What do you want Jesus to do for you? Do you want him to make you great? Greatness is not demanding loyalty and service from others. Greatness is serving, to the point of giving your life.
10:32And they were on the road, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking ahead of them. And they were amazed, and those who followed were afraid. And taking the twelve again, he began to tell them what was to happen to him, 33saying, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death and deliver him over to the Gentiles. 34And they will mock him and spit on him, and flog him and kill him. And after three days he will rise.” – Mark 10:32-34
- These events take place near the end of Jesus’ earthly life.
- The crowd was probably pilgrims on the way to the Passover feast in Jerusalem.
- Prophets were rarely warmly received in Jerusalem and the disciples are afraid of going there.
- Understanding their fear, Jesus draws the twelve aside and, for a third and final time (Mark 8:31; Mark 9:30-31; Mark 10:32-34), explicitly tells them what awaits him in Jerusalem.
- The term “Son of Man” comes from Daniel 7:13-14. The Son of Man in Daniel is an Israelite who will do battle with the pagan kingdoms of the world (depicted as ferocious animals). Having won the battle, he is depicted as “one like the son of man” coming on the clouds to be enthroned in heaven at YHWH’s right hand to establish an everlasting kingdom.
- Yet, this Son of Man is not described as conquering his enemies but as being conquered by them.
10:35And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came up to him and said to him, “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?” 37And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.” 38Jesus 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?” 39And they said to him, “We are able.” And Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you will drink, and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized, 40but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.” – Mark 10:35-40
- With the memory of the transfiguration still fresh in their minds (Mark 9) and Jerusalem looming on the horizon, James and John see a window of opportunity to position themselves favorably.
- Jesus responds that they have no idea what they are asking for or the way one achieves greatness.
- The symbol of the cup often evokes the terrible image of God’s wrath, which was handed (e.g. Psalm 75:8).
- Jesus is teaching them that to be great they must drink the bitter cup of suffering and persecution.
10:41And when the ten heard it, they began to be indignant at James and John. 42And Jesus called them to him and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. 43But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, 44and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. 45For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” – Mark 10:41-45
- Again, Jesus does not condemn what they asked for; he corrects their understanding.
- Gentiles (unbelievers) measure greatness by their ability to command and control.
- In the kingdom of God, greatness is measured by service and sacrifice.
- Even the Messiah did not come to earth to be served, but to serve others.
- What do you want Jesus to do for you? Make you great as the world measures greatness? Or give you saving faith?
For more detail and explanation, please listen to the podcast.