“And taking the twelve aside He said to them, ‘Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and all things having been written through the prophets on the Son of Man will be fulfilled. For He will be handed over to the Gentiles, and will be ridiculed and scoffed at and spat upon, and scourging Him, they will kill Him; and the third day He will arise’. And they understood none of these things, and this rhema having also been hidden from them, they were not comprehending that which was being said” (Luke 18:31-34).
On the face of it, Jesus is inviting His disciples to witness His death, which to them, would seem to be a catastrophic event. Their Messiah, the One in whom they believed and to whom they were devoted, was to be taken by the gentiles, tortured and killed. This was the word that came from their Lord; but note that this word – the rhema – was hidden, or concealed, from them so that they could not really know what was going to take place.
The rhema, you see was hidden from them because they had not yet received the Spirit so that they might understand the spiritual word; they could receive the logos but not yet the rhema.
But Jesus understood. This was the task for which He had come, “….to offer His life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). A ransom is the price of release and that release, from the bondage to Satan and sin in which we are born, could only be accomplished by the blood of a spotless lamb. This, the scriptures of the Jews stated plainly enough. Yet, the fulfillment of their scriptures was hidden from them until, as Jesus told them after His resurrection, they should receive the power of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8); that power was a power to understand that which was written, to see what had been unseen, to know what had been unknown. From the logos, they could obtain a rhema.
“Going up to Jerusalem” was the call of God to Jesus Christ; only He could undertake the task; only He could fulfill it. So, He said to the disciples, “let us go up to Jerusalem”. He alone knew what lay ahead and “He resolutely set His face to go to Jerusalem” (Luke 9:51). He knew the Father’s desire and He did it; that was the sacrifice of His life, day in and day out. It makes no sense to the natural man that such a thing should happen; it hardly seems to be victory to man. But what seems to mankind to be failure – ridicule, scoffing and humiliation – was, to God, a mighty triumph.
God calls those whom He chooses to call; how and why He calls those He calls is a baffling thing; we can all say “Why me?” But the calling is His business and the answering of that call is ours. Many, hearing the call, charge off onto the battlefield, becoming “activists” in the cause of Christ, only to find frustration, disappointment and exhaustion. That is because His call is not to employ our natural abilities in Christian activism, but through fellowship with Him, to become intimate with God and to learn to hear His voice.
The call is to find God’s purpose, not our own. On being born again, we really have no idea why God has called us and chosen us. But, like Jesus, our task is to surrender to the Divine wish so that we might be emptied of the last vestige of self and be filled instead, with Christ Jesus by means of the Holy Spirit. If that seems vague, remember that God can only fill what is empty; and we are of no use to Him as long as the natural man remains. The natural man will have his own ambitions and these will drive him in a direction he chooses. The faithful man should have no ambitions but, like Jesus, should “set his face steadfastly to Jerusalem”.
If we are in intimate fellowship with God, we will know that He is drawing us into His purposes; what those purposes are is His business, not ours. If we have this attitude, our life is vastly simplified.