So says Mark 10:32 (NET).
Jesus wasn’t the scary type, at least, in appearance. Normal guy, so normal his hometown folk couldn’t believe he was anything special.
But what scared his followers was his demeanor.
From what they could tell, he was walking toward Jerusalem straight into disaster.
But he was totally focused, fixed on his objective, unbending, unwilling to hear out options or consider other possibilities.
He had just tightened the noose around those who looked for reasons to get out of marriage (Mark 10:1-12).
He turned apostolic decisions on their heads, from prohibiting a lone disciple from preaching, to keeping the kids away (Mark 9:38-42; 10:13-16).
HeÂ switch values on them, by negating the easy connection between riches and righteouness — making wealth an impediment to heaven, rather than a sign of divine approval (Mark 10:17-31).
And when Peter piped up about the apostles’ sacrifices, Jesus guaranteed reward — with persecution (Mark 10:28-31).
Yes, there is something about Jesus, as friendly, as approachable, as welcoming as he is, that sometimes causes us to keep our distance from him. Not the distance of an unbeliever. Nor the distance of a disgusted or frustrated follower. But the distance that senses a challenge to our faith, a stretching of our souls, a danger and a darkness that lie ahead into which the Lord charges, not blindly, but with the certainty of destiny, the sureness of decision.
And we aren’t yet we sure want to go there.
So we hang back, while still following. The fear rises in our throats, because we have forgotten the walking on the water, the feeding of the 5,000, the raising of the dead.
Jesus will teach and encourage, instruct and upbraid, chide and invite. And we will come closer again, bind ourselves to him, skeptical or no of his goal.
And at some point, perhaps after stumbles and scrapes, we’ll discover that he has injected in us that same look in the eye, he has infected us with the singleness of purpose, the zeal for God’s house, the consuming desire for the will of the Father.
Suddenly, not from a distance, but in lockstep with the Savior, we march forward to the suffering of the Cross.