Explore the Bible
with Becky Brown
Sunday, April 28
All four Gospel accounts mark a stunning turning point in the story of Jesus. For approximately three years, His ministry has moved from village to village, touching lives, healing folks, teaching truth. There comes a time in each Gospel when His steps become even more resolute. His face is set.
In this tenth chapter of Mark, we find two of those mile markers. One is Mark 10:17 which records that Jesus was “setting out on a journey.” The other one is Mark 10:32. In this verse, His destination is revealed. His GPS (God’s Positioning System) was leading Him to Jerusalem. Passover is at hand and on this trip up the mountain of God, Jesus is well aware that He will be The Lamb.
In Mark 8:31, Mark 9:31, and Mark 10:33-34, Jesus gently outlines the Jerusalem itinerary. These reservations had been confirmed from before the foundation of the world. He would suffer many things. He would be rejected by His own people. He would be delivered into the hands of men. He would be condemned to death. He would be mocked, spit upon, and scourged. He would be killed. After three days, He would rise again.
With each conversation, Jesus would add another tidbit of information about what was to happen to Him in Jerusalem. I have wondered if He was sharing it in that manner—a little at the time—for their benefit or basically coming to grips with it all Himself, humanly and personally. He knew full well what was ahead. Mark 10:32 gives us a major clue. As they were walking on the road headed through Jericho, “going up to” Jerusalem, this verse tells us all we need to know: “Jesus was walking on ahead of them.” It was as though He couldn’t wait to get there!
Their response to His determination was a mixture of amazement and fear. Jesus slowed down for a moment and drew them aside to explain once again. Of all the responses He expected as a result of this news, this one was not on the list…
James and John, the two sons of Zebedee came up to Jesus saying, “We want You to answer this question in the affirmative. Grant that we may sit in Your glory, one on Your right and one on Your left.” In Matthew’s account of this moment, their mother came and brought them to Jesus. She was the one doing the asking for favored seating arrangements for her sons in glory. In both situations, the answer Jesus gave was the same.
The “cup” He was about to drink and the “baptism” He was about to undergo were reserved for Him and Him alone. These Sons of Thunder had no idea what they were asking. Jesus was about to drink the cup of our sinfulness all the way to the dregs in the bottom of the cup. Jesus was about to be baptized into full identity with humankind as He willingly took upon Himself the sins of the whole world.
“We are able,” they replied. They were looking for a silver goblet, rather than the bitter cup of suffering. According to Acts 12, within a very short time period, James would be martyred. Toward the end of his life, John would be forced into exile on the island of Patmos.
A few days later in the Upper Room, these two and the other ten would realize that this work they had been called to do had nothing to do with their position AT the table. It had everything to do with their willingness to wash feet. Jesus came to show them how to serve others.
The word “servant” in verse 43 is translated “deacon” in the book of Acts. A deacon is one who “raises dust by hurrying to serve another.” The word “slave” in verse 44 describes a bondservant, one who serves his master not under compulsion but because of his love for his master. Both words are needed to fully capture the heart of Jesus. He came to serve others. He wanted the disciples to desire to do the same.
At that moment, I believe Jesus certainly turned His face again to Jerusalem to continue walking toward His appointment with Calvary. He stopped in Jericho to heal another “physically” blind man. Wonder if the disciples readjusted their own vision of servanthood… spiritually speaking?
Brown is staff evangelist at First Church, Richland.