Mark 10: 32 – 52 NLT
Jesus Again Predicts His Death
32 They were now on the way up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking ahead of them. The disciples were filled with awe, and the people following behind were overwhelmed with fear. Taking the twelve disciples aside, Jesus once more began to describe everything that was about to happen to him. 33 “Listen,” he said, “we’re going up to Jerusalem, where the Son of Man will be betrayed to the leading priests and the teachers of religious law. They will sentence him to die and hand him over to the Romans. 34 They will mock him, spit on him, flog him with a whip, and kill him, but after three days he will rise again.”
This is the third time Jesus has spoken about his death to the disciples. The first was in 8: 31 just after Peter stated that Jesus was the Messiah, the Christ. The second time was in 9: 31 when the disciples were asking Jesus why they couldn’t throw the demon out of the young boy. Each of those two times, the disciples were upset and really didn’t want to talk about it. This time Jesus gives them more details. He is going to be initially betrayed by the Jewish religious leaders who will request the death sentence, but then he will end up being tortured and sentenced to die by the Romans, the Gentile rulers of Israel for the past 100 years. All people, both Jews and Gentiles will play a part in Jesus’ death, and it is for all people that Jesus intends to die.
“Jesus Teaches about Serving Others
35 Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came over and spoke to him. “Teacher,” they said, “we want you to do us a favor.”
36 “What is your request?” he asked.
37 They replied, “When you sit on your glorious throne, we want to sit in places of honor next to you, one on your right and the other on your left.”
38 But Jesus said to them, “You don’t know what you are asking! Are you able to drink from the bitter cup of suffering I am about to drink? Are you able to be baptized with the baptism of suffering I must be baptized with?”
39 “Oh yes,” they replied, “we are able!”
Then Jesus told them, “You will indeed drink from my bitter cup and be baptized with my baptism of suffering. 40 But I have no right to say who will sit on my right or my left. God has prepared those places for the ones he has chosen.”
41 When the ten other disciples heard what James and John had asked, they were indignant. 42 So Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. 43 But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever wants to be first among you must be the slave of everyone else. 45 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Can you believe that James and John had the nerve to ask Jesus for positions of honour/authority right after Jesus talked about his death? Hadn’t they just talked about how you needed to be willing to give up everything to follow Jesus when the young rich man had left because he was unwilling to give up his wealth? I don’t know what they were thinking. Maybe they thought when Jesus talked about his death and rising again, that Jesus was really talking about some mystical Heavenly event that would result in Israel’s return as God’s chosen people and their sovereign independence. We know from many of the stories told in the gospels, that the disciples really didn’t have a clear picture of who Jesus really was and the purpose of his life on earth.
Jesus tells them that they don’t know what they are asking.
They don’t realize that high important positions mean suffering and serving. Jesus is our example. He is God! Colossians 1: 15 – 17 tells us who he really is:
“Christ is the visible image of the invisible God.
He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation,
16 for through him God created everything
in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see
and the things we can’t see—
such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world.
Everything was created through him and for him.
17 He existed before anything else,
and he holds all creation together.”
Yet he was willing to take on a human body with all its physical limitations and come to a world that would reject him and treat him horrendously. Philippians 2: 5 – 8 tells us:
“You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. 6 Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. 7 Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, 8 he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.”
This is an attitude that we in 2020 don’t really understand. We are more like James and John who see important positions as evidence of true leadership and ability. Let’s reread how Jesus defines leadership:
“So Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. 43 But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever wants to be first among you must be the slave of everyone else. 45 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (v 42 – 45)
If by any chance, as Christ followers, we are given leadership positions at work or at church, we need to look at those positions as places where we serve. Places where we work hard for others, places where we are willing to do the ‘dirty work’, places where life may not be that easy, places where we may be misunderstood. It’s not a place where we pat ourselves on the back for how good we are, to make sure we have everything and everybody under our control. That’s not the definition of leadership that Jesus gives us. It’s really something to think about as we examine our own life. Am I following Jesus’ example?
“Jesus Heals Blind Bartimaeus
46 Then they reached Jericho, and as Jesus and his disciples left town, a large crowd followed him. A blind beggar named Bartimaeus (son of Timaeus) was sitting beside the road. 47 When Bartimaeus heard that Jesus of Nazareth was nearby, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”
48 “Be quiet!” many of the people yelled at him.
But he only shouted louder, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”
49 When Jesus heard him, he stopped and said, “Tell him to come here.”
So they called the blind man. “Cheer up,” they said. “Come on, he’s calling you!” 50 Bartimaeus threw aside his coat, jumped up, and came to Jesus.
51 “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked. “My Rabbi,” the blind man said, “I want to see!”
52 And Jesus said to him, “Go, for your faith has healed you.” Instantly the man could see, and he followed Jesus down the road.”
Steve Wilmhurst in his commentary, A Ransom for Many, talks about the scene in these verses:
“The scene Mark paints for us in v.46 is of a noisy, bustling throng leaving the ancient city of
Jericho: Jesus himself, the twelve disciples, and a large crowd. Jesus has been on this journey for some time now. By this point he has re-crossed the River Jordan: Jericho is five miles west of the
river and just eighteen miles, one day’s walk, short of Jerusalem. Most of this crowd will be
pilgrims on their way up to the great city. The Passover festival is probably only a couple of
weeks away and thousands of people are converging on the capital: Jews from all over Israel and
beyond. This cavalcade in Jericho is just one component of that great movement of people. But
some of them undoubtedly are also keeping a very close eye on Jesus. He has done so many
amazing deeds, spoken so many startling words; and the rumours about him have flown far and
wide. They know he is heading up to Jerusalem; they have realised there is something special
about him; and now they will make sure they are travelling along with him, just to see what he is
going to do next.”
This would be a good place for a blind man to be begging for money so he can survive. It’s a road with lots of travelers at this time of year. He is likely all ears for what is happening since he can’t see, and appears to have heard that Jesus is coming sometime soon. The people around tell him to shut up. They see him as a nuisance and not worthy of Jesus’ attention, (hopefully, it was not the disciples this time again) but Jesus hears his call and asks him to come closer.
It’s interesting that the question Jesus asks Bartimaeus is the same one as he asked James and John. “What is your request?” or “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus listens to our requests. For James and John, Jesus tells them they don’t know what they are asking for, because he knows that they really don’t understand what is required for a high position in God’s kingdom. Later, James will die at the hands of King Herod Antipas. John will live to old age, but he will spend many years exiled on the Island of Patmos. After Jesus’ resurrection ascension, and the start of the church, they did understand what true leadership meant. Bartimaeus asked to be able to see, a simple request – asked of the Son of David, Rabbi. I don’t know if he really understood who Jesus was. Jesus was in the genetic line of David. He was a ‘rabbi’, a person who connected the average man with God.
Jesus listens to our prayers. Sometimes we really don’t know what we are asking for. But, Jesus does. We can trust him with the answer, whatever it is.
Steve Wilmhurst, A Ransom for Many: the Gospel of Mark Simply Explained, Welwyn Commentary Series, Evangelical Press, 2011 – Chapter 16