Read: Mark 10:35-45
The way John Mark collected these stories, Jesus just told the disciples He would be arrested, tortured, crucified, and rise again — then two of His closest disciples ask about being seated on his left and right.
They replied, “Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory.” Mark 10:37
I get the impression that Jesus talked about His death and resurrection on several occasions, perhaps to the point that the disciples stopped listening to the details. After all, none of these things happened…yet.
Jesus is consistently kind to their rather arrogant request:
“You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said. Mark 10:38
We know John Mark is not afraid to use expressive adjectives to describe emotions to help us understand what’s happening. Here he merely reports, “Jesus said.” There is nothing to suggest Jesus is angry, upset, shaking His head, or any such demeanor. He simply has a conversation with His chosen few.
The rest of the crew is not so pleased with the line of discussion.
When the ten heard about this, they became indignant with James and John. Mark 10:41
Jesus takes it all in stride while the other ten are losing it! He poses the question about drinking the cup that He is about to take or go through the baptism He must endure. Their response, “Sure! Bring it on!” Obviously, they don’t quite get it. I completely understand.
From their experience, Jesus has done miracle after miracle, gradually making His way around the region, calmly walking from place to place. In the typical Master/Disciple model of their day, this is a lifetime approach to learning. They have no idea that Jesus’s days with them are so few in number. Nor do they have any reference to a leader being tortured and killed; certainly not resurrection. In short: they don’t get it at all.
This is a critical lesson as we seek to disciple others to become disciple makers. We must not get ahead of ourselves in thinking this all just makes sense. For those of us raised in the church, we have all kinds of insider language and expectations. These notes are merely reminders and course corrections to help us get better. For those who lack the experience, i.e., the chosen twelve in this case, it’s all news and not so clear.
Jesus calls them together and calmly explains how the hierarchy of His kingdom works and sets the stage for yet another discipleship training moment. In the world, there are those who lord over you, but this is not how it works with God:
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.” Mark 10:43-45
I quote this during the spiritual gifts class when inviting participants to find a place to serve in the church body. We tend to pick these kinds of verses to remind people that trash needs to get picked up and babies need to be changed, but it’s so much more than tending to the details in our sacred halls.
True discipleship, and therefore disciple making, is an attitude of the heart.
Lord, help us to appreciate the depth of your love for all people, even to the point of giving our lives in service to the least, the lost and the lonely. Change our hearts. Help us to love and serve everyone we meet the way You did. Grant us patience and kindness in the process.