[June 8]--Service With A Smile

Mark 10:35-45

The sources I’ve been using say that today’s passage is probably meant to be pivotal, perhaps one of the most important in this book. Remember that each of the four Gospels present a different aspect of Jesus: To Matthew he’s the King of the Jews, to Luke he’s the Son of Man who came for the entire world (including Gentiles), and to John he’s the Son of God. Mark seems to want to present him as the Servant.

I think I mentioned this last year, but it seems that the disciples continually were trying to “one-up” each other in status. They'd just been caught arguing before as to which of them was the greatest. And at the end of three years of intensive teaching, training, and modeling behind them, they finally made a lot of progress in this, right? At the Last Supper, while Jesus was in his last hours before dying a horrible death in our place, they were arguing once again about which of them was the greatest.

So James and John thought they could. . .what, call “dibs” on the top spots before the other guys took them? They asked Jesus to get them into the “right hand” and “left hand” of Jesus, in other words to be his main lieutenants when he returns in power and glory.

Notice that his first line of attack is not against their selfishness, as bad as that was. His first line of attack is against ignorance: “You don’t know what you’re asking.” When he’s referring to his “baptism,” he’s definitely not talking about the one at the beginning of his ministry. In case you’re unaware, the word “baptize” is a transliteration of a Greek word baptizo. It literally means “to immerse.” When you dip an Oreo cookie all the way into a glass of milk (Ummmmm, Oreos and milk. . . sorry, got distracted for a second there), you’ve “baptized” it.

What the Master was referring to was his Passion—his arrest, trials, torture, and crucifixion. He was about to be “swallowed up” by pain and death. And every one of his followers, to a much lesser degree, has to count himself as a dead man. That’s what he meant when he told us to “take up [our] cross” and follow him. A man who’s taken up his cross was a dead man walking. And Jesus wanted his disciples to know what was in store for them.

The disciples blithely responded “Oh sure. We can die with you. Not a problem.” Again, do you get the impression that they didn’t really know what they were talking about? How many times do we make commitments without really considering what that means? Boy, it sure would be nice if there was a section of God’s word that warns against things like that. Oh wait. . .

Jesus assured them that they certainly would experience what he would (to a much lesser degree), but then gave them even more bad news. We might make promises built on fragile foundations, but Christ never makes promises which he can’t or won’t keep. He doesn’t hem and haw about it—Again he tells them the bad news so that there’s no confusion in the future. The places of authority which they’re requesting are not his to give. He’s in complete submission to the Father’s will in all things, and those positions are the Father’s prerogative.

I’m going to split up this lesson in two parts, because the rest of this section deserves a full day’s attention. But in the meantime, let’s get what we can from this. Have you, have I, really thought about what it means to follow Christ? It might not necessarily mean I have to give up all my possessions, my family, my friends, my health, and/or my life. But once I surrendered to my Savior, I died to my old life. Like the inmates in The Green Mile, I’m a dead man walking. If you go up to a corpse and pick its pockets, he’s not going to care. He’s dead to this world. I’m supposed to react the same way when something I “own” is threatened. So why don’t I act like that?

So tell me, why do I fight and struggle like a starving dog over a fresh kill when my possessions are threatened, or even my comfort level? Whatever needs to change, Lord Jesus, let’s do it.

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