by Robert M. Solomon

Day 38

Read Mark 10:32-45

After watching the rich young man walk away and hearing Jesus' disturbing words, the disciples were ″astonished″ and ″afraid″ (v. 32). It is not clear why they were astonished and afraid, but perhaps they suspected trouble ahead, in view of some things that Jesus had said earlier. Yet Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem with His disciples. He told the Twelve about how He would suffer and die (vv. 33-34)-the third such revelation (cf. Mark 8:31-32; 9:31). This time Jesus gave seven terrifying details about His death: He would be betrayed, condemned, handed over to the Romans, mocked, spat upon, flogged, and killed. The disciples did not understand how their Master could end up being treated this way. Unbelievable! Was Jesus referring to some deeper spiritual truth? He went on to say that He would rise from the dead.

Worldly people want power and authority to lord over others, but in the kingdom, greatness is measured by humility of service

In the ensuing conversation, we can clearly see that the disciples did not understand Jesus (cf. Mark 9:32). James and John, the sons of Zebedee, made a bold request: ″we want you to do for us whatever we ask″ (v. 35). They wanted special seats, immediately to the right and left of Jesus in His glorious kingdom (v. 37). Jesus must have shaken His head at their ignorant and presumptuous request. They were thinking only of earthly power and glory. Like many of us when we ask blessings from God, they did not know what they were asking (v. 37). Jesus then turned their thoughts again to the cross by referring to the cup He had to drink and a baptism (of fire) He had to undergo (v. 38). Jesus refused to grant their selfish request but told them that they would in fact have a share in His sufferings. But they did not understand.

Meanwhile, the other disciples displayed similar ignorance when they got upset with the two brothers (v. 41). Jesus pointed out how foolish and worldly they were. Worldly people want power and authority to lord over others, but in the kingdom, greatness is measured by humility of service. The one who ″wants to be first must be slave of all″ (v. 44). They must learn from the Son of Man himself. Again, Jesus pointed to the cross when He said He would ″give his life as a ransom for many″.

Later, when John saw the two thieves crucified on the right and left of Jesus (Luke 23:33; for John's presence at the crucifixion, see John 19:26-27), he may have remembered his foolish request and how Jesus had answered him and his brother. Now he finally understood.

Think through:

Why does God not grant many of our prayer requests? Consider some of your requests made to God that on hindsight you now consider to have been made foolishly and ignorantly?

What implications do Jesus' teachings on true greatness and service have on your life and the many relationships you have-at home, the workplace, and church, and around the neighbourhood?




About Author

Robert Solomon served as Bishop of The Methodist Church in Singapore from 2002-2012. He has an active itinerant preaching and teaching ministry in Singapore and abroad. He is the author of more than 25 books, including The Race, The Conscience, The Sermon of Jesus, and Faithful to the End.

Author of Journey Through Series:

Our Daily Bread Journey Through® Series is a publication of Our Daily Bread Ministries.

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