“We are going up to Jerusalem,” [Jesus] said, “and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will hand him over to the Gentiles, who will mock him and spit on him, flog him and kill him. Three days later he will rise.”
Mark 10:33-34 (NIV)
Much of my life has been spent hurrying. Not in the micro sense (though, I confess, my record is dotted with speeding tickets), but in the macro sense. As a kid I was overly anxious to grow up and get to the next stage. I was always looking for the fast-track. I couldn’t wait to get to do what others were allowed to do. Before I had my driver’s license I had friends who loaned me their cars. I graduated from high school early because I could. I wanted to get through college quickly, too. I was driven to find “the one” I would marry and was married before I graduated from college. I was equally driven to start my career, start a family, and make my mark on the world.
What was the rush?
In retrospect, I think being the youngest child positioned me to envy my older siblings. That was part of it. I think my personality also played a part. No matter, my fast-track mentality shaped many of my life decisions with consequences that range from benign to tragic. As I meditate on it in the quiet this morning, I’m not sure I could argue that anything good came of it. I don’t know. I might have to talk that through with a good friend over a pint and a cigar on the back patio.
Here’s what I have learned, however: There are no short-cuts on the spiritual journey except those I try to forge myself, and as Frodo and the lads discovered in the forest “short-cuts make for long delays.”
Perhaps my wealth of experiences at trying to forge short-cuts in life give me greater clarity to see it in others. In today’s chapter, I saw it everywhere.
The institutional religious leaders ask Jesus a direct question about his views on divorce. Jesus is in Herod Antipas’ realm. Herod just had John the Baptist imprisoned for preaching against his unlawful divorce and remarriage to his brother’s wife. Jesus’ enemies saw an opportunity to fast-track Jesus to the same fate.
The rich young man who asked Jesus how to earn eternal life was looking for the fast-track to heaven.
James and John were looking for the fast-track to positions of honor in Jesus’ “glory.”
On the heels of these three events, Jesus points His followers to the place He is heading:
Delivered into the hands of those who hate Him.
Condemned to death.
Delivered into the hands of the Empire.
He then tells His followers: this is the path.
No get-spiritually-rich-quick schemes.
In God’s Kingdom, one does not get moved up to the next grade until the lessons of the current level are effectively learned.
Short-cuts only make for long delays in the spiritual journey.
In the quiet this morning, I look back at my own path and review the results of my attempts at forging spiritual short-cuts. “Benign to tragic.”
It is ironic that today’s chapter ends with a poor blind man who keeps shouting to Jesus: “Have mercy on me!”
The attitude and posture of the poor blind man’s spirit led to his eyes being opened.
There’s a lesson for me in that.
If you know anyone who might be encouraged by today’s post, please share.