Mark 10:32-45

(A Bible Study Led by Dr. Larry Reynolds)

October 18, 2012

 

 

Verses 32-34The fourth prediction in Mark’s Gospel of Jesus’ suffering and death (see Mark 8:31; 9:12; 9:31)

“…they…” – Probably a reference to more than just Jesus and the twelve.  The last part of this verse seems to speak of two groups—Jesus and the twelve plus some others who were following along, perhaps pilgrims going to Jerusalem for the Passover celebration.

 

“…on the road…” – Were traveling from Galilee to Judea…taking the normal path to the east of Samaria following the Jordan River Valley…this event occurred before they reach Jericho (see Mark 10:46)

 

“…Jesus was walking ahead…” – Typical of a 1st century rabbi being followed by his students…

 

“going up to Jerusalem” – When we speak of going up, we generally mean going north or up on the map.  However, no matter what direction from which they may be coming, Jewish people always speak of going up to Jerusalem.  Probably two reasons—the elevation of the city is about 2500 feet above sea level and it was a holy destination so it was a spiritual high to visit there.

 

“…amazed…fearful…” – Seems rather strange when first read these words…what were they amazed about and fearful of?...Does this relate back to what Jesus said in the previous paragraph about His followers experiencing persecution?  Or does it relate to the previous statements Jesus made about His suffering and death in Jerusalem.  The latter seems more likely.

 

“…delivered to the chief priests and the scribes…condemn Him to death…deliver Him to the Gentiles…mock Him…spit upon Him…scourge Him…kill Him…three days later He will rise again…” – Most detailed description in Mark of His coming suffering…reference to the Jewish Sanhedrin…the Roman authorities…the treatment he would receive from the Roman soldiers…

 

Verses 35-37 – The request of James and John

It is not surprising that James and John asked for places of special recognition in Jesus' kingdom...that's just human nature...there's something in most of us that cries out for recognition and praise...it's not surprising that they asked, but it is surprising when they asked... Jesus had just told the disciples what was going to happen to Him in Jerusalem... would be arrested, mistreated, mocked, beaten, and killed...no sooner had said that than James and John came making their selfish request...words had just come from His lips, but was as if James and John didn't even hear or at least didn't comprehend what He said...

 

Verse 38 – Jesus’ response to James and John

Basically said two things...first made a statement, then asked a question ...

·         Statement was "You do not know what you are asking for." ...(there's important lesson in that for us...sometimes we ask God for wrong things...sometimes God does not grant our request because to do so would be bad for us)...if Jesus would have done for James and John what they had asked, given them the places on His right and left in Jerusalem, they would have been hanging on the crosses on either side of Him instead of the two criminals!...

·         Question Jesus asked was, "Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?"...some people try to read into that statement a reference to the church ordinances -- baptism and the Lord's Supper...not what Jesus is saying...phrase "drink the cup" means to experience what I am going to experience...what Jesus was saying was, "You say you want places of honor in my kingdom.  But are you able to experience with me my sufferings, even to the point of being baptized or immersed in them?  You want to share my glory, but do you have the commitment to share my suffering as well?"

 

Verses 39-40James’ and John’s response to Jesus

James and John glibly and thoughtlessly answered, "Yes, Lord, we are able.  We can do it.  We'll make that kind of commitment."...but events that followed indicate that Jesus was right when He told them they didn't know what they were asking...for example when Jesus was--

·         Agonizing in the Garden of Gethsemane, facing most difficult hour of His life, what were James and John doing? ...kneeling beside Him in prayer? ...not hardly!...they were sleeping!...three times Lord had to awaken them...yet they were able to drink of His cup!

·         Being tried and falsely accused before the Jewish and Roman courts, where were James and John? ...were they demanding to be heard, to say a positive word on His behalf?...no way!...were hiding because they were afraid... yet they were able to drink of His cup!

·         Hanging on cross, giving life for sins of the world, who occupied places on His right and left? ....not James and John, but two common criminals...yet they were able to drink of His cup!

 

And while it is easy for us to be critical of James and John, truth is, more often than not we are just like they were… As one person put it, we want--

·         Throne of Christ without the thorns...

·         Crown of Christ without the cross...

·         Self-indulgence but not self-sacrifice... 

·         Benefits of being a Christian without making serious commitment to Christ...

But that's not way is in kingdom of God...to participate in His kingdom must be willing to drink of His cup....to commit ourselves wholly and completely to Jesus...

 

Enrico Caruso was one of greatest opera tenors of all time...in 1911 signed a lucrative contract with what was then known as the Victor Talking Machine company...contract was very simple...in exchange for the check, Caruso wrote this statement on a piece of his own stationery:  "For the rest of his life Caruso sings only for you."  That is precisely the kind of commitment Jesus requires of those who would follow after Him.

 

Verses 41 – The reaction of the other disciples to James’ and John’s request

When other disciples heard request of James and John, became angry...Mark says in v.41 they "began to feel indignant"... but Mark does not tell us why they felt that way...don't think was so much because of the request James and John made of Jesus...more than likely were indignant because James and John beat them to the punch and made the request before they did!...suspect James and John merely verbalized what they all were thinking...

 

Verses 42-44 – A teachable moment

Jesus called this band of angry, feuding men together and once again tried to teach them an important kingdom principle ...pointed out that in eyes of world greatness is measured in terms of authority and power, whether it be economic, military, political, or whatever...but Jesus said in realm of God's kingdom not that way...in God's kingdom greatness is measure in terms of servant-hood...

·         Verse 43 - "...whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant..."...and word for servant there is diakonos which literally means one who waits on tables...

·         Verse 44 - "...whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all..."...and word for slave there is doulos which was used to describe those on very bottom rung of social order...lowest of the slaves...

Jesus introduced this concept to them back in Mark 9:35 and on this occasion He expands on it…it is an amazing thought that the way to become great in God’s eyes is to become a servant…

 

In 1935 Albert Schweitzer, the great missionary to Africa, was addressing the graduating class of an exclusive English boys' school...Schweitzer looked out at those young men, many of whom came from the most prominent, powerful families in England and made the following statement:  "I do not know what your destiny will be.  Some of you will perhaps occupy remarkable positions...But I know one thing:  the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve."

 

And that principle is true for every person who ever lived... the key, secret to fulfillment in life is learning to serve...it is a basic law of life that the more we serve, the more we give ourselves to others, the more we get in return...that's what Jesus meant when He said "...whoever loses his life for My sake shall find..." (Matthew 16:25)

 

If you feel distressed or depressed or dejected, go out and find someone you can serve...give yourself away...put others first...become a diakonos (servant), a doulos (slave) and you'll be amazed at what that will do for you...as strange as it may sound to those of us who live in a culture which says the smart people are the ones who get others to serve them, Jesus was exactly right when He taught the way to true greatness and real fulfillment in life is putting ones-self last and others first...

 

Verse 45 – A perfect model

Jesus never asked His followers to do anything He did not do first...for example…

·         He asks us to love each other and He demonstrated His love by dying on the cross for our sins...("Greater love has not man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.")

·         He asks us to forgive one another and He demonstrated His willingness to forgive by saying of those who were crucifying Him "Father forgive them for that know not what they do."...

And He asks that we serve one another, and His entire life was characterized by service to others...

 

"For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many" is an amazing statement...imagine that!...the most powerful One in all the universe laying aside that power to become a servant...and that is the kind of life to which He calls us...

“ to give His life” - This is the summary verse of Mark’s Gospel. Jesus always refers to His death as His gift or His glory. It denotes the vicarious, substitutionary atonement (i.e. sin offering, cf. II Cor. 5:21) of Christ (cf. Gen. 3:15; Isa. 52:13–53:12).

“ransom” This is literally “to buy back” or “to pay a price” (cf. Matt. 20:28; Titus 2:14; I Pet. 1:18). It reflects the OT term used of slaves and prisoners of war being bought back, often by a near kin (go’el). Jesus unites in Himself the love and justice of God the Father. Sin costs a life—God provided one![1]

 



[1] Utley, R. J. D. (2000). Vol. Volume 2: The Gospel According to Peter: Mark and I & II Peter. Study Guide Commentary Series (122–123). Marshall, Texas: Bible Lessons International.

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