“Yet, after I am raised up, I will go ahead of you to Galilee.”
(Matthew 26:32; Mark 14:28)
Though most of our English Bibles do not reflect such (even my own translation does not reflect such), there is actually a one word difference between Matthew and Mark’s account. In Matthew’s account, he uses the simple transition, de/ (de), which is a simply transition that binds two statements together; Mark uses the conjunction, ajlla/ (alla), which indicates a contrast between what is being said and what has been said before. The first can either indicate a parallel or a contrasting statement; the second can only indicate a contrast. The value of this is simply that in the variation between Matthew and Mark’s choice of language, clarity is added and we see better what Christ is saying. The scandal will be a bad and depressing thing, but Jesus’ going ahead of the disciples to Galilee is a good and encouraging thing.
Galilee, of course, was home territory for the disciples, and a place for them to be able to regroup away from the influence of the murderous priests and Jewish leaders. It is most likely in Galilee that Jesus would spend 40 days teaching the disciples as we find in Acts 1. Note, too, the language of Jesus going up ahead of his disciples. How significant it is that our Lord leads and does not expect his own to stumble around ahead of him. Such is the language of Hebrews 2:10—Christ, through his suffering and death, led the way for us to follow into salvation. At the same time, note what must come first—the raising up. Before Jesus can gloriously lead us to salvation and toward the celebration of the mighty Kingdom of God in its fullness, a sacrifice must be made to atone for our sins. One must go through the valley before one will appreciate the peaks that surround it.
Of course, along with the idea of Jesus leading implies not only our responsibility to follow (for it is only the most impudent of children that will not follow the road down which their parents lead—and what would we call a soldier that refuses to follow his commander down a given path), but the implication is that we must follow down the path that our Lord has traveled. Often, we act as if we are comfortable with the idea of Jesus facing trial and persecution in his sacrifice and death and then are surprised when we face trial and persecution ourselves. As Isaac Watts said, “Why do we think we will enter heaven on a bed of roses when our Lord entered with a crown of thorns?” Jesus did not simply say, “follow me,” he said, “take up your cross and follow me.” Understanding that life principle (or death principle as we ought die to this world) makes all the difference.