We've talked about this before
Wasn’t Last Sunday great? It was awesome. If you weren’t here, or if you have forgotten, let me get you caught up.
This lent we are going through some key passages in the book of Mark. Our main theme for this lent is this that although we are walking toward the suffering of the cross in the present, we are looking forward to the joy of the resurrection.
We began by talking about Jesus’s temptation in the wilderness, and I invited you to take some time to refocus. Then we read mark chapter 8, and in it Jesus predicted his death. Then Jesus called us to be prepared to give up everything-Even our life if need be-to follow him. As difficult as that message is in that Jesus still pointed us to the glory that is yet to come. Jesus reminded the disciples that they will get a glimpse of the kingdom.That was in Mark chapter 9.
After that, Jesus took His disciples up on a mountaintop to pray. There, Jesus is transformed into his glorious body. Three disciples get to see a quick glimpse of Jesus in his glory. He becomes like he will be in heaven. His clothes are a dazzling white and they see his glory.
Perhaps, Jesus gave them this glimpse to encourage them on their journey to the cross. It is as if Jesus was saying to his disciples, “Yes, I am asking you to take up your cross, I am asking you to follow me all the way to death. This will be hard, incredibly hard, but to get you there, I will show some glory. I will show you just a bit, it may help you continue if you can see a little something.
Each of us is in a different spot in our faith. Each of us has our own unique struggles. Some of us may be in a spiritually dry place and God seems far away. Others are clinging tightly to Jesus as relying on him as we struggle to put one foot in front of the other. Others are enjoying the fruit of the spirit, and are in the best spiritual place of their lives. It really doesn’t matter where you are, seeing a little glimpse of the glory of God helps. Seeing that Jesus does change lives, hearing people tell stories of how they met Jesus, like we heard last week, helps us no matter where we are spiritually, it gives us a glimpse of the glory.
Picture yourself walking through the desert. You are tired, the heat of the sun is beating down on you, and you meet a traveler coming from the other direction. They look refreshed. They are not thirsty, the have a spring in their step. They tell you up ahead is water, their is an oasis. You would be able to go on wouldn’t you? That would be encouraging.
That happened last week. We met people who have just met Jesus. They have just come from a life changing encounter with the gospel. There lives are changing. And that gives us hope to carry on. It is enough of a glimpse of the glory of Christ, that we can hang unto that, and have hope. So even if we are in a rough spot, we can see Jesus is still there. We know we don’t have to walk alone. We have a reminder of what Jesus has done for us, and that helps us to continue walking the road.
Now, suppose as you continued walking, heading for the oasis, you started discussing with you traveling companions, where you were gonna sit when you go to the oasis. What if you went up to your leader and said, when we get to that oasis, I would really like to get the good shade. Maybe not the same tree as you, but at least the second best tree. Could I do that would that be ok?
That is kind of what is happening in Mark chapter 10. Please open your Bibles to Mark chapter 10, and I will pray before reading God’s word.
Today We are in Mark chapter 10.
They were on their way up to Jerusalem, with Jesus leading the way, and the disciples were astonished, while those who followed were afraid. Again he took the Twelve aside and told them what was going to happen to him. “We are going up to Jerusalem,” he said, “and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will hand him over to the Gentiles, who will mock him and spit on him, flog him and kill him. Three days later he will rise.” Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to him. “Teacher,” they said, “we want you to do for us whatever we ask.” “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked. They replied, “Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory.” “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?” “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, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared.” When the ten heard about this, they became indignant with James and John. Jesus 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. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Today as we look at Mark 10, we are going to look at three P’s today.
They were on their way up to Jerusalem, with Jesus leading the way, and the disciples were astonished, while those who followed were afraid. Again he took the Twelve aside and told them what was going to happen to him.
Mark here in the second half of the gospel keeps reminding us that Jesus is on the way. Jesus has one clear purpose, he is on the way-to Jerusalem. He is on the way to the cross.He is on the way to His death. The walk isn’t easy. Mark makes a point to say that they were on their way up to Jerusalem.
See, Jerusalem is 20 miles, and uphill all the way. 3,500 feet uphill from Jericho. 3,500 feet is a climb. There is not even anywhere in Minnesota you can even do that. The highest point in MN is Eagle Mountain it is at an elevation of 2301. The lowest point is the shore of Lake Superior at 603 feet above sea level. The highest you can climb in MN is only 1700, roughly half.
Not only are they heading to great suffering, but they are going uphill to get there. Picture this for a minute. 12 men at least-probably more, there is women as well. Walking along a rocky stone gravel road. They are not in walking shoes, or hiking shorts. But they are wearing long robes, and sandals. Hot, and dirty, stumbling, toe stubbing uphill 20 miles, to death. Out front, with a purpose is the leader. There is Jesus out front leading the way! The rest are following, astonished, and afraid.
Astonished-look at what has been happening, miracles, and yet here he is leading the way to his death. What is going on? And afraid. Afraid of what is going to happen when they get there? Will their be a Battle? A Violent revolt? What is going to happen?
Jesus stops for a second and talks to just the apostles, not everyone. This message is only for the few.
“We are going up to Jerusalem,” he said, “and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will hand him over to the Gentiles, who will mock him and spit on him, flog him and kill him. Three days later he will rise.”
This is third and final prediction Jesus has made concerning his death. It is also the most detailed.
Jesus talks about being delivered over to the chief priests, and the teachers of the law. This is recorded in Mark 14:53 He says he will be condemned to death, Mark 14:64. Jesus says he will be handed over to the Gentiles Mark 15:1 who spit on him Mark 14:65, and 15:19. They will mock him Mark 15:29-30, flog him, Mark 15:15 and kill him 15:37.
This prediction of his death also closely corresponds to the prophecy of the suffering servant found in the book of Isaiah. We read from some of it as our scripture reading.But even as detailed as Isaiah 53 is, the disciples it seems, and most of Israel seem to have pre-conceived ideas about who the Messiah is and who the Messiah is supposed to be. And because of their pre-conceived ideas, they don’t believe that Isaiah 53, applies to the Messiah.
Pre-conceived ideas happen when we bring our previous knowledge or experience to the text, and we read the text through our own experiences rather than through an objective point of view. Pre-conceived ideas are quite common. People aren’t even aware of them. Stereotyping, and racism are pre-conceived ideas about how people will behave based on our previous belief, rather than objective evidence.Our experiences and previous knowledge influence how we interpret the text. Israel has a pre-conceived idea about what God, and the Messiah look like.
Mark Twain said, when all you have is a hammer-everything looks like a nail.
The whole Nation of Israel has vision that the physical kingdom will be restored to them. They have a vision that the Romans will be out and the Messiah will come to the throne. Understandably they are tired of the suffering, and tired of the oppression. They have been praying for a day when a Messiah would come and liberate them. They have been pleading with God for the day when a ruler would rise up and free them from their bondage on this earth.
In this prediction Jesus refers to himself as the Son of Man. This is Jesus’s most common title for himself. He uses it far more than any other. It serves two purposes. It seems to emphasizes that Jesus is part of humanity while at the same time it calls to mind his divinity. This title the son of man is found in Dan chapter 7, verse 13
“In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence.
Jesus, calling himself the son of man, combining with the disciples pre-conceived ideas about the Messiah causes then to gloss over the suffering part. Perhaps, in the mind of the disciples, they are thinking, that three days after his death, when he rises, that will be when he will establish this kingdom on earth.
If that is the case. If the kingdom is going to be on the earth, they better reserve their spots.
Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to him. “Teacher,” they said, “we want you to do for us whatever we ask.”
When we read it sounds bold doesn’t it? I mean we would not even think of coming up to some one and saying I want you do to for me whatever I ask. Try that on your husband or wife after church. Honey, I want you do for me whatever I ask. MMMhmmm you are gonna get the side eye?
But is that what we do with Jesus? Is it? I think sometimes it is. Sometimes, when we pray we come with our pre-conceived ideas about how God should answer our prayers. We think we know what God should do and we say Jesus, I want you do for me whatever I ask. But oddly Jesus does not reprimand them for that request.
“What do you want me to do for you?” he asked.
He doesn’t silence them. He just says what? What is it? Although that request sounds bold and outrageous, Jesus is ok with it.
Two weeks ago, we read about Peter considering Jesus without the cross, and Jesus said “get behind me Satan”. But today, even though the disciples have a request for whatever they want-Jesus allows them to ask. “What do you want me to do for you?
They replied, “Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory.”
Ask whatever you want in prayer. It’s ok. Jesus wants us to come to him. He wants us to come to him with our prayer requests. We can ask whatever, and it is ok. But we have realize something. Most of the time-when we make those requests, we have no idea what we are asking.
When Jesus is lifted up in glory, there will be people at his left, and at his right. But they won’t be James and John, they will be rebels. One will mock, and one will believe, but this is not the place for the disciples. And this is not what they are thinking.
The idea of sitting at the right and left is a place of closeness to the throne. They are places of power, and authority. They are thinking that a new kingdom is coming and with Jesus as the reigning king. They want a good spot in the kingdom.
Keep in mind- they have left everything to follow Jesus. Jesus has previously talked about rewards. He even mentioned that those who have left family and home and career for following him will be rewarded.
We will get heavenly rewards. That will happen when this life is done, yet much as we would like to scoff at these two, they are not that far out there. When you are suffering here, in this world we are encouraged to look to the future reward in heaven to make it through. However what the disciples are thinking, is that this reward will occur now. Here in this life. And that is not the way this is going to happen.
“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?”
Sometimes we don’t know what we re asking. Think about the young child who doesn’t like the discipline of their parent’s house. They wish they could just be on their own. Can you pay the bills? Can you work and support yourself? Are you able to manage life on your own? You kids don’t know what you are asking.
That is the disciples. Jesus says Can you drink the cup? or be baptized with the baptism I am being baptised with?
This is a Jewish saying. To Drink the cup refers to the cup of God’s wrath. Being baptized is referring not to a water baptism but being submerged in the suffering of God’s wrath. It is imagery derived from the book of Jeremiah chapter 25.
This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, said to me: “Take from my hand this cup filled with the wine of my wrath and make all the nations to whom I send you drink it.
The answer to that rhetorical question Jesus poses would be no. No you can’t drink the cup. The cup Jesus will drink is the cup meant for sinful mankind. It is the cup of God’s anger for sin.
But Jesus, because Jesus is the God-man, He is without sin. When God pours out the cup of his wrath-meant for sinners-justly and rightly meant for me, and you, when God pours out that cup Jesus steps in. Jesus steps into our place, and drinks the cup of God’s wrath, for us. And since Jesus is without sin, not deserving of the wrath-Jesus then can be a substitution for us.
God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
The answer would be no you cannot drink the same cup or the same baptism that Jesus will undergo, but there will be a cup for you to drink, just not the cup of God’s wrath.
“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, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared.”
They are committing to following Jesus even unto death. Jesus lets them know that they will be required to die for following Jesus. They will be martyred for the sake of the gospel, but the heavenly rewards- those are given out as God the Father deems.
Don’t think of this as God is somehow smiting them. Like you asked for wrong thing EHHHHH! Now you shall die! No the martyrs death that disciples will die, is the cost of following Christ, not the result of a selfish prayer mistake.
We are free to request whatever we like in prayer, but God alone determines the how they will be answered.
When the ten heard about this, they became indignant with James and John. Jesus 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.
James and John’s selfish ambition has spread through the whole group. Their desire to be at the position of honor, and power is spreading through the entire group. When this happens, there is division.
Jesus reminds them that the kingdom of God is not like the kingdom of the world. In the kingdom of the world rulers rule with authority and power. The kingdom of God has different values.
Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all.
Each one of us, instead of looking for a position of power, should be looking for ways to serve one another. According to the world, this is odd. That does not mean that there is no place for strong leadership? It does not mean we all roll over and never make decision.
We still need strong leaders, but we need leaders who are seeking to serve the people they lead, rather than leading people to serve them and their desires. We need leaders who lead with respect to the needs of the people they lead.
The business world is beginning to recognize this. A large corporation I was vey once operated with military like authority for many years. During that time the company struggled with profits. The board decided leadership needed a change. A new Christian leader was brought in. He did a study to pinpoint the a source of problems in the organization. The study determined that the culture of leadership was causing division in the team. Leaders ruled with an iron fist mentality, and the entire organization suffered for it.
The top leaders decided to promote a new style of leadership. They called it servant leadership. Everyone in a position of leadership was trained in this ‘new style’. People who were Christians immediately recognized this “new” style, as imitating Christ. Although the organization kept it secular in it’s training, Christians recognized the teaching was from Jesus. Actually, the entire company began to turn around since this new leadership style has been implemented.
For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Jesus led as a servant. He did not defer or roll over No! quite the opposite. Remember the first verse of the text today? They were on their way to Jerusalem with Jesus leading the way, while they followed behind, astonished and afraid. Left to their own ways the disciples would have preferred a Christ without a Cross. Left to their own way they more concerned about their reward, then the rest of the group. Left to their way they would have preferred an overthrow of the Roman government, yet remained in their sin.
Jesus did not defer to the ways of the world Jesus led. Jesus led us into the kingdom of God, by his willingness to pay the price at the cross, for us. Jesus led us into a relationship with God our Father, by serving us by becoming our sin so that we could become the righteousness of God.
What is your position in the kingdom?
How does that walk to Jerusalem impact us? What could we take from their conversation to help us?
Think through your answers to these questions. What is your position in the kingdom? Let me start with the path. Are you at least on the road? Are you following Jesus? Are you trying to live your life following Jesus? Or are you not even there? If you are not following Jesus you need to consider, Jesus identified himself as the God-man. The Bible says he is the king and the judge You must consider if what he said is true. If so He also calls you to follow him. That requires an action on your part. You need to start to try and follow him. It will be costly, but you will then be in a relationship with God, rather than subject to His wrath.
If you are at least walking the road are you following at a distance in fear? Are you ready, and willing to sacrifice all. Including your life for Jesus Christ and the gospel. That is hard. That will take some thought. It is ok to think twice about this. The disciples were afraid, and they were with Jesus for two years. I get it, it is hard.
But know this. Jesus Christ-The King of the universe, loved you so much he was willing to die for us, we ought to be able die for for him. Jesus Christ faced the wrath of God on our behalf so that we did not have to face that wrath. Jesus Christ brought us into a right relationship with God our Father. Jesus Christ promised that God will not leave us or abandon us no matter how hard things get. Nothing will be able to separate us from the Love of God. Even to the point of death.
When we have placed our Faith in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of our sins, our eternal life begins at that moment. And this portion of it, this portion of it that we are asked to be ready to give away is tiny and small when put in the perspective of being a child of God.
Lastly-are you focused on following Jesus becasue of what you will get out of it? Are you focused only on the rewards?
For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Because Jesus served-we ought to serve-We are servant leaders BEcausE Jesus was. We are not looking to our rewards but we are to be looking to Jesus. We are doing what Jesus did because that is what he did, and that is what a follower does, not to get a reward.
Is it wrong to marry someone who is rich? No, but It is wrong to marry someone BECAUE they are rich. You marry someone because you are in a relationship with that person. You marry someone because they love you and care about you. You are in a relationship with that person because they share their life with you. Our relationship with Jesus is the same thing. We are rewarded, sure, but more importantly we are in a relationship with the King.
What if you are not at that point. How do you get there? Love is work. You have to spend time with that person, you have to get to know them. You have to talk with them, you have to trust them.
So Pray, talk to Jesus. Spend time with Jesus. Show him your affection through love, by worship. Spend time in his word and get to know him. Remember the good times. Remember when Jesus saved you. Remember when prayers were answered. Remember when he carried you through those problems in your life. Count your blessings.
Then go and do likewise-In Jesus name, and for His Glory,