24th May 2023
Read - Mark 10:35-40
Message Alan Burke
I’m going to ask you a question today as we begin, perchance are you slow on the uptake? Of course I know that you are wonderful and I do not mean in any way to offend you but I know from my own person experience and I am speaking of myself of course that I am often slow on the uptake. You’re likely one of those individuals who has a photographic memory, who can turn your hands to anything and you just breeze through life never getting anything wrong, I am not like that and neither were the disciples. These fellas were slow on the uptake, I just marvel at their failure to grasp simple teachings of Jesus but then again I find that a comfort for I am no different. Here we pick up just after Jesus had predicted his death for the second time to his disciples how he would be betrayed, sentenced to death, mocked, spat on, and flogged and only after facing all of this would he be executed. But his death would not be the end, instead he would be resurrected.
As the scene moves on look to the question that comes, from James and John (35). Firstly it is like the question of a child when they want something and they don’t think that they will get it so they try to ask in a way that they can twist your arm, they ask Jesus to ‘do for us whatever we ask’. These are grown men, these are adults who have heard Jesus say he is going to face death and all they can think of is ‘me’, ‘me’, ‘me’.
These two men are aspiring to their own greatness and are assuming that Jesus is going to inaugurate a new earthly kingdom, a new Davidic age, and they are seeking to get ahead of the rest of the disciples, although Jesus had already challenged their pre conceived ideas of what greatness is, how greatness is different in his kingdom, that the least must be served like the greatest, the penny hadn’t dropped with them. They look for a seat at the right and left of Jesus. They are looking for positions of power, in proximity to Jesus, if they had heard and understood any of what he had just said as he predicted his death, it may have been the hope of the resurrection that caused them to ask this, thinking that what Jesus faced would be only temporary.
Jesus to their request v38 makes it clear that they do not what they are asking off. The symbolism that is used here of the drinking of the cup and baptised with the baptism that Jesus would be baptised with. Both symbols of what Jesus would face on the cross, he would drink of the cup of the rash of God, he would be baptised with the baptism of the wrath of God and when Jesus asks them can they also drink and be baptised in this way they answer we can. What we miss in translation is that Jesus question to them ‘can you’, is not one that allows for a positive answer, it expects a negative answer. Like if I said “Can you scale the walls of the meetinghouse with only your little finger”. No of course you can’t.
There answer, ‘we can’ shows yet again they did not understand the fullness of what Jesus had come to to, they thought they could do it, and in to them Jesus said they will indeed drink of the cup, be baptised with the baptism Jesus was baptised with. Not in the sense that they offered themselves for the forgiveness of sin, nor that they would experience the wrath of a Holy God against sinners, rather they would experience suffering, while John we suspect died of old age after being exiled he still suffered much in his life time for the cause of Christ, whereas James was killed for his faith (Acts 12:1). James and John didn’t understand what they were asking, and we know that there were indeed two others who were one on his right the other on his left in Mark’s gospel and that is at the cross, the only other time that these words are used in Mark (15:27).
James and John were slow on the uptake, their question may seem ridiculous to us, but none of us are immune to when it comes to the word of God even with that photographic memory of yours and how you can turn your hands to anything and you just breeze through life never getting anything wrong, we are often slow on the uptake. And I wonder what our own prayer life says about us, how different are we to these two disciples who were looking for their own greatness, how much of our time is spent looking to our own greatness in prayer, our own wants and needs rather than thankful acknowledgement of his mercies to us?
Q54 What is required in the third commandment?
The third commandment requireth the holy and reverent use of God’ s names, (Matt. 6:9, Deut. 28:58) titles, (Ps. 68:4) attributes, (Rev. 15:3–4) ordinances, (Mal. 1:11,14) Word, (Ps. 138:1–2) and works. (Job 36:24)