Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Mark Chapter 10, Part 2

Everyone knows what it is like when they bite off more than they can chew. We think we can do everything, but sometimes we can take on too much at once and it becomes overwhelming no matter how gung-ho we are. We see an example of this in the second part of Mark 10 today, as James and John think that they can receive an honor that is really too much for them and not even Jesus’ to give. As a result, they face the anger of their peers as well as a subtle rebuke from Jesus Himself.

35Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to him. "Teacher," they said, "we want you to do for us whatever we ask."
36"What do you want me to do for you?" he asked.
37They replied, "Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory."
38"You don't know what you are asking," Jesus said. "Can you drink the cup I drink or be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with?"
39"We can," they answered. Jesus said to them, "You will drink the cup I drink and be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with, 40but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared." – Mark 10:35-40

I don’t think that James and John really understood what they were asking for her. They did not understand that by the cup and baptism, Jesus meant that he was going to suffer and die a martyr's death for all of humanity. James and John were accepting a very hard life, and even then, Jesus could not guarantee the reward they were asking for. Mark goes further on the subject when the rest of the disciples find out, causing Jesus to allay a potentially dangerous and disintegrating situation.

41When the ten heard about this, they became indignant with James and John. 42Jesus called them together and said, "You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 43Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 44and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. 45For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. – Mark 10:41-45

We saw this as part of Jesus’s message previously, but it is really one of the central themes in His preaching. For all of His power, Jesus came to serve, not to rule. Think about that for a moment. Imagine having all of the power of God at your fingertips. You can literally do anything. How tempting would it be to rule over others, even benevolently? Jesus had this power, yet He continually reiterated that His mission was one of servitude. One does not truly become great by exalting themselves. Instead, we must learn to serve others. This is the prime example set by Jesus that we must follow.

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