God-Soaked World Bible Guide – Day 27
April 1, 2017
Saturday, April 1 – Mark 10:35-52
35 James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came forward to him and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” 36 And he said to them, “What is it you want me to do for you?” 37 And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.” 38 But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” 39 They replied, “We are able.” Then 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; 40 but 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.”
41 When the ten heard this, they began to be angry with James and John. 42 So Jesus called them and said to them, “You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. 43 But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. 45 For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.”
46 They came to Jericho. As he and his disciples and a large crowd were leaving Jericho, Bartimaeus son of Timaeus, a blind beggar, was sitting by the roadside. 47 When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 48 Many sternly ordered him to be quiet, but he cried out even more loudly, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” 49 Jesus stood still and said, “Call him here.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart; get up, he is calling you.” 50 So throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. 51 Then Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” The blind man said to him, “My teacher, let me see again.” 52 Jesus said to him, “Go; your faith has made you well.” Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the way.
Points of Interest:
- Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem, where he’ll be betrayed by one of his students, arrested, and killed. According to Mark, he’s just said this to his students. Meanwhile, though, two of them are busy asking him ridiculous questions. Perhaps this is what Jesus gets for including two brothers in his mobile classroom, sibling rivalry being a pretty old and potent force.
- Jesus also has told his friends that after he’s killed, God will restore his life and give him greater power. Seizing on this hope, James and John want to come along for the ride – at least the power and glory side of things. In asking for seats at his right hand and left hand, they’re looking for chief cabinet posts – vice-president, secretary of state-level appointments.
- Jesus says the way to that kind of leadership is immersion in suffering. Drinking the cup here is an allusion to drinking a bitter cup of suffering, and the immersion of baptism a metaphor this time not for being soaked in God’s love but being drenched in the suffering of death. In their zeal for power, James and John are like, “Whatever. Fine.” But they clearly don’t get it.
- Jesus lightly shames his students, telling them they’re thinking just like the rest of the world that they look down upon. Jesus says it’s not that way with me, so it’s not that way with you if you follow me. Greatness comes through service, not power.
- Jesus lives by this rule himself. The Son of Man is a nickname Jesus has applied to himself as a title. It means “everyman” like it sounds, but it’s also a reference to an Old Testament title for God’s chosen human authority on earth. Jesus says that his authority is there to serve others, to – like a ransom – be a vehicle for the freedom and redemption of other people.
- In the next town, Jesus’ students get to see this live. A blind, roadside beggar is making a ruckus, looking for help. The instinct of some is to quiet him, to stop him from disturbing an important person like Jesus. They want to shut him up, to get him away. Jesus, though, says, “Call him here.” Jesus wants to serve him.
- As with any good servant, Jesus asks Bartimaeus (as he did the two brothers), “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus recognizes the power of naming our desires and asks Bartimaeus to do this, to express just what type of mercy he’s looking for. This is a model for what we are doing in the 40 Days of Faith – telling Jesus what mercy from God would look like for us, naming what we would like God to do for us. Some of us will get what we ask for, as Bartimaeus did. Some won’t, as James and John appear not to, at least for now. Jesus asks all of us, though, what we want.
- When Bartimaeus can suddenly see again, Jesus says that his faith – his trust in God expressed through his ask – has made him well. Naming the desire, making the ask of Jesus, did the work. May it be true for us as well!
Prayer for your six – What do your six most want? Pray for each of them, that they will know what they most desire and that their desire will be heard and responded to by Jesus as well.
Spiritual Exercise – This week our spiritual exercise will be listening to and meditating on the words of Jesus, letting God speak to us through them. In today’s passage, Jesus asks, “What do you want me to do for you?” Sit quietly and imagine Jesus speaking these words to you. What is your reaction to these words? How are they easy or hard to receive? How do they encourage or inspire you?