One of the themes of the Messiah as foretold in the Old Testament is that of the Suffering Servant. Isaiah in particular explores the motif of the Servant of the Lord who would "justify the many" and "bear their iniquities" (Isaiah 53:11). This Servant would be....
mChosen by God from the womb (Isaiah 49:5).
mA recipient of the Spirit of God (Isaiah 42:1
mUnimpressive in the eyes of men (Isaiah 52:14).
mA bringer of justice to the earth (Isaiah 42:4).
mA light to the Gentiles (Isaiah 49:6).
mHigh and lifted up and greatly exalted (Isaiah 52:13).
As we come to this section of the Gospel of Mark, we see this same motif coming to the forefront as Jesus sets forth His teaching concerning servanthood in the Kingdom.
Jesus had the heart of a servant. He did not come on the scene demanding that men worship Him. He did not build a palace for Himself or sit on a royal throne. He did not enjoy all of the comforts that this world has to offer. He could have done that. But He did not. He did not because He came to serve.
A. A PROPHETIC PORTRAYAL.
32They were on the road going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking on ahead of them; and they were amazed, and those who followed were fearful. And again He took the twelve aside and began to tell them what was going to happen to Him, 33 saying, "Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered to the chief priests and the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death and will hand Him over to the Gentiles.
34"They will mock Him and spit on Him, and scourge Him and kill Him, and three days later He will rise again." (Mark 10:32-34).
This is not the first time that Jesus had predicted His own death. Twice before, we have seen Jesus give a detailed prophecy of His impending death, burial and resurrection.
The Son of Man will...
The Son of Man will be...
The Son of Man will be...
With each prediction, a little more information has been given. First there was the message that the Son of Man would be killed and rise again. Then it is told that He would suffer at the hands of men. Finally, the disciples are told about the mocking and the scourging that would accompany His death.
There is a principle here. It is that God’s revelation is never given merely to satisfy curiosity. It is always given in terms of need and capacity. This means that God will only tell you what you need to know and what you are able to bear.
This means that you can take your prophecy chart down and burn it. God isn’t telling you things that you don’t need to know. As a result, you can begin to trust Him on a day by day basis.
Jesus is doing that. He is going to Jerusalem. Jerusalem has been foretold as the place of betrayal and arrest. There is a cross awaiting Him in Jerusalem. Jerusalem is that place of scourging and beating and mocking. Messiahs are put to death in Jerusalem. And Jesus is going there.
I would have been headed in the other direction. But Jesus continued on His route to Jerusalem. Not only that, but He was up ahead of the disciples. While they were lagging behind, He took the lead. He was out in front, setting an ever-quickening pace to arrive there. Why? Because He loved us.
Verse 34 mentioned three groups of people that would be involved in putting Jesus to death.
mThe Chief Priests
That was just about everybody. It included religious leaders and it included theologians and it included the pagans. The world was universal in its rejection of Jesus.
Are you surprised at the growing hostility to Christianity? Are you surprised when you see our faith mocked and ridiculed by the media? Are you surprised when you see legislature outlawing prayer in the schools and legalizing abortion and the IRS closing down churches? You shouldn’t be. You have been warned. The world is out to get Christ and, if you are one of His, then the world is out to get you, too.
There is a battle going on. It is a battle between good and evil. Bad things happen in a battle. People get hurt and Messiahs get crucified. But we also have good news. Our King has won the battle.
On Friday evil won. But on Sunday evil died. And you are on the side that came out victorious.
B. AN AMBITIOUS REQUEST.
35James and John, the two sons of Zebedee, came up to Jesus, saying, "Teacher, we want You to do for us whatever we ask of You."
36And He said to them, "What do you want Me to do for you?"
37They said to Him, "Grant that we may sit, one on Your right and one on Your left, in Your glory." (Mark 10:35-37).
James and John come to Jesus with a request. It is a request that shows that they had not been listening to the prophecy of Jesus. It looks as though they actually attempt to get a carte blanch agreement from Jesus: "...we want You to do for us whatever we ask of You." But He does not fall for it. Instead, He asks them for the specifics of their request. It is that they might have the positions of honor on His left and on His right when He would come in His glory.
The other disciples did not ask for this. I think that they would have if they had thought of it. But they did not even think of asking.
Matthew’s account indicates that they also involved their mother in this request (Matthew 20:20).
With the exception of Peter, they hadn’t seen the glory of God. But James and John had. They had been with Jesus up on the mountain when He was transfigured. And that had set them to thinking. For the first time, they had their minds set on the future. They realized that Jesus was more than He appeared. And they realized that there was coming a day when the real Jesus would be unveiled. They had seen some of that unveiling. And now they wanted to make the most of it.
C. A RESERVED REFUSAL.
38But Jesus said to them, "You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?"
39They said to Him, "We are able." And Jesus said to them, "The cup that I drink you shall drink; and you shall be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized.
40"But to sit on My right or on My left, this is not Mine to give; but it is for those for whom it has been prepared." (Mark 10:38-40).
Jesus points out a lack of understanding on the part of the Zebedee brothers. What they are asking is a good thing, but they do not realize the scope of that which they are requesting. And so Jesus asks them about their willingness...
To drink of the cup.
To be baptized with the baptism.
What are the cup and the baptism of which Jesus speaks? I believe that both the cup and the baptism refer to the death which Jesus faces.
1. The Cup.
Jesus will have His disciples drink from a cup at the Last Supper. This cup will signify the blood which Jesus will shed upon the cross. The Scriptures teach that it is the blood of Jesus which is the price of our redemption. Therefore, the cup signifies the death of Jesus through which we are redeemed.
When Jesus comes to the garden of Gethsemane, He will pray that this cup might pass from Him (Mark 14:36).
2. The Baptism.
The word "baptism" always carries with it the idea of "identification." When one is baptized into a religion, that act of baptism identifies the one who is being baptized with that religion.
When Jesus went to the cross, He was identified with our sin and our guilt. God judged Him as though He were a guilty sinner. All of the wrath of God against sinful humanity was poured out upon Him.
D. A CALL TO SERVANTHOOD.
41Hearing this, the ten began to feel indignant with James and John.
42Calling them to Himself, Jesus said to them, "You know that those who are recognized as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them; and their great men exercise authority over them.
43"But it is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant; 44 and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all.
45"For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many." (Mark 10:41-45).
When the other ten disciples heard of the request of James and John, they became angry. They were angry with James and John. And perhaps they were a little angry at themselves over not having thought of asking the same question first.
James & John
Reply of Jesus
Reply of Jesus
Jealousy is poison to a church. It can split a church faster than anything. The disciples were ready to split off and start their own denomination. And so, Jesus called them together.
The church was never called to model the world. They are to have two separate and opposing styles of leadership. The world looks at leadership as the exercising of authority. But leadership in the church is identified as servanthood.
Francis of Assisi is said to have visited St Peter’s Cathedral in Rome where his guide showed him the wondrous architecture and the priceless treasures, noting, "The church can no longer say, ‘Silver and gold have I none.’"
Francis agreed, adding, "The church is also unable to say, ‘In the name of Jesus, rise up and walk.’"
Our church leaders should never allow themselves to forget that they are to consider themselves as servants of God and of His church. It is notable how often Paul described himself as a "slave of God."
Jesus is the leader who leads. He never called His disciples to do anything that He was not willing to do Himself. He was the Servant of God. And He calls His followers to be servants, too.
Jesus came to serve. But that is not all. He also came to give His life as a ransom for many.
The Greek text is worthy of notice. The word "ransom" is the Greek word lutron. It is one of three words used in the New Testament to describe "redemption."
a. Agorazo: "To purchase."
When we think of making a purchase, we think of buying groceries or a car or a house or some other inanimate object. We don’t talk about purchasing people - that went out with slavery over a hundred years ago. But slavery was commonplace in Paul’s day. And you would commonly go into the marketplace - the Agora - to purchase a slave.
b. Exagorazo: "To purchase out."
This is the same word with a prefix placed in front of it meaning "out." The picture is that you go into the slave market and you purchase a slave and then you bring him OUT of the market.
c. Lutroo: "To release or set free."
This is the word used here. It takes the picture one step further as you bring the slave out of the slave market and then set him free.
This is what Christ has done for us. He came into this world of sin. And He paid the ultimate price for us - His own blood shed on our behalf. He became our ransom - our releasing price.
The preposition used here is also significant. Verse 45 says that Jesus came to "give His life a ransom FOR many." The preposition is the Greek word anti. It is the language of substitution. It tells us that Jesus came to "give His life a ransom IN THE PLACE of many."
Finally, notice that while Jesus called His disciples to a LIFE of service, He Himself had resolved to go much further - to a DEATH of service. Jesus came to die. And He came to die that we might live.