I attended seminary with Buford Easley, who pastored the Williams Boulevard Baptist Church in Kenner Louisiana, a suburb of New Orleans.
Buford founded the church in the late 1960’s and was the pastor until his death from cancer in 2000. The title of today’s article comes from a chapel message that I heard Buford preach.
Buford took his audience to three different occasions when Jesus told the disciples of his crucifixion and resurrection. Then, he asked us to consider the response of Jesus’ closest followers to this announcement.
Jesus Predicts His Death
The first two of three predictions of Jesus’ rejection, crucifixion and resurrection are in Luke 9.
— Luke 9.21-22 – He sternly ordered and commanded them not to tell anyone,
Saying, “The Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.”
— Luke 9.44 – “Let these words sink into your ears: The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into human hands.”
First century Jews expected the Son of Man to resemble Daniel’s vision.
As I watched in the night visions,
I saw one like a human being
coming with the clouds of heaven.
And he came to the Ancient One
and was presented before him.
To him was given dominion
and glory and kingship,
that all peoples, nations, and languages
should serve him.
His dominion is an everlasting dominion
that shall not pass away,
and his kingship is one
that shall never be destroyed. (Daniel 7.13-14).
Jesus reinterpreted the work of the Son of Man or Messiah to resemble the Suffering Servant of Isaiah 53.
The work of the Suffering Servant will eventually produce the glorious picture of Daniel 7, but first there must be suffering.
The Disciples’ Response
The disciples were unable to understand what Jesus was telling them.
— Luke 9.45 – But they did not understand this saying; its meaning was concealed from them, so that they could not perceive it. And they were afraid to ask him about this saying.
In today’s YouTube video, Rudy Ross traces the partial hardening of Jewish people to the work of Jesus. I believe his explanation is worth considering. Please take a few minutes and listen to our video on the Bob Spradling YouTube channel.
We really don’t know why the closest followers to Jesus could not understand his words, but here is my guess.
The entire Jewish culture looked for a Messiah who looked like the description of Daniel 7.
Add to this belief the profound love and appreciation that the disciples had for Jesus.
They may have thought, “How could someone who raises the dead, defeats demons, and cures illness end up crucified?”
Whether my understanding of the disciples is correct or not, I know that I miss some of what Jesus says to me because he has to overcome my preconceived ideas.
God does not conform himself to the “box” of my ideas. I am comfortable living with the “box” of my understanding of God.
There are times when God has challenged my beliefs and I had to accept his truth over my thoughts. Possibly, that is true for you, too.
Where are today’s preachers?
When Buford Easley preached his chapel sermon, he matched Jesus’ message of the cross with the response of the disciples.
— Luke 9.46 – An argument arose among them as to which one of them was the greatest.
Buford’s message was to an audience of preachers. I still remember his message, even though it was 50 years ago. He made me wrestle with these issues.
— Is my self-image based on the respect I receive from other people?
— Should I use the church I pastor to help with career advancement?
— Am I envious or jealous over very successful pastors?
— Am I willing to serve where God places me?
I may be the only preacher to read my blog and my issues are different from yours. Please take a second to apply this message to your own life.
Who is the Greatest?
Jesus corrected his close friends and followers with an object lesson.
— Luke 9.47-48 – But Jesus, aware of their inner thoughts, took a little child and put it by his side,
And said to them, “Whoever welcomes this child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me; for the least among all of you is the greatest.”
Frank Laubach is one of my spiritual heroes. He was a missionary to the Philippine Islands from 1915 through the time of the Great Depression.
Laubach had a PhD from a major seminary, knew President Teddy Roosevelt, but found himself teaching literacy to Filipino children.
As he was teaching a child one day, he began to question his value to society. Some of the self-esteem questions that trouble us worried him.
Laubach continued to work with children, women and villagers. Later in his ministry, he had the opportunity to convince Mahatma Gandhi to allow literacy to come to India.
Laubach is credited for bringing literacy and a witness to God’s love to India, the Philippines, and South America. His literacy method continues today throughout many areas of the world.
Jesus addresses our desire for greatness and notoriety with his model of self-sacrifice and service.
Let’s leave the “box” of our self-centered desires and striving for success and follow him.
If you view the Bob Spradling YouTube channel, you can listen to Rudy Ross’ understanding of this passage. I will also talk about the impact of Buford Easley and Frank Laubach on my life.
Please email your prayer request to firstname.lastname@example.org or private message me on Facebook. The Maywood prayer team will pray for you.