Sunday

“The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.” (v. 45)

Mark 10:35-45 Sunday 18 October 2015

Psalm: Psalm 91


Background

The shadow of the cross stretches across even the early chaptersof Mark's Gospel. It is especially sharp here. Mark tells us thatJesus is "going up to Jerusalem" (Mark10:32) on his final journey, and on the road Jesus once againforetells his forthcoming death and resurrection to the disciples(Mark 10:33-34, cf Mark8:31-33). Yet James and John approach Jesus almost as though hewere a fairy-tale genie, able to grant three wishes, and theirquestion remains at that level - make us princes, basking in yourglory. The other disciples seem to share this view (verse 41),becoming angry with the two brothers because they have stolen amarch on the others and grabbed the best seats first. Mark'sversion of the story is blunter than Matthew's (Matthew 20:20-23), in which it is the mother ofJames and John who makes the request. Elsewhere too, Mark is moredirect about the shortcomings of the disciples than other Gospelwriters - which many find an encouragement to their own imperfectdiscipleship.

Jesus' answers (verses 38, 42) highlight the distance betweenhis world view and that of the disciples. Psychological theoryhelps us recognise this cognitive gap, and to understand somethingof the stress that it will cause all the disciples when realitybreaks in and they face Jesus crucified. For the reader, withhindsight, there is a terrible irony, a sense of foreboding, as werealise the implications of James' and John's words "we are able"(v. 39): James's death is described at Acts12:2, John faced prison along with Peter (Acts4:3).

It might seem ironic, even cruel, to reflect on this story ofapproaching disaster in light of this week's theme 'Fullness ofLife'. Yet life holds sorrow and trauma, as well as moments ofutter joy. A holistic approach to life demands that we namedarkness as well as light, and recognise that both are caught up inthe life of God, and that God can transcend both through lovingservice, freely given - for this is what makes Jesus' life a"ransom for many".


To Ponder

  • Imagine that Jesus is saying to you 'What is it you want me todo for you?' What would your answer be?
  • Where is God calling you to be a servant, and to whom?

 

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