Mark 10:32-45, Some Thoughts and Questions

32They were on the road going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking on ahead of them; and they were amazed, and those who followed were fearful. And again He took the twelve aside and began to tell them what was going to happen to Him, 33saying, “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered to the chief priests and the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death and will hand Him over to the Gentiles. 34They will mock Him and spit on Him, and scourge Him and kill Him, and three days later He will rise again.”

35James and John, the two sons of Zebedee, came up to Jesus, saying, “Teacher, we want You to do for us whatever we ask of You.” 36 And He said to them, “What do you want Me to do for you?” 37 They said to Him, “Grant that we may sit, one on Your right and one on Your left, in Your glory.” 38 But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?” 39 They said to Him, “We are able.” And Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you shall drink; and you shall be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized. 40 But to sit on My right or on My left, this is not Mine to give; but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.”

41 Hearing this, the ten began to feel indignant with James and John. 42 Calling them to Himself, Jesus said to them, “You know that those who are recognized as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them; and their great men exercise authority over them. 43 But it is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant; 44 and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all. 45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

-Mark 10:32-45 (NASB)

The first thing that the Sons of Thunder do after Jesus describes (in excruciating detail) his own crucifixion to them is to demand (the “impudence” in this case is not to be recommended, methinks!) a seat at Jesus’ right and left hand in glory. They are seeking after glory when Jesus is showing them His humiliation.

It is interesting to note that Jesus is glorified on the cross in His baptism/humiliation, and he has one thief/insurrectionist on his left and one on his right (Mark 15:24). This really was the judgment of the world (John 12:31) and a humanity, rebellious insurrectionists against God who considered their sonship in Adam robbery and rebelled against their Maker, is divided by the cross of Christ, some on the left and others on the right (cf. Matthew 25:33), some to condemnation and others to renewed sonship in Christ.

The Sons of Thunder (or their mother on another occasion) thought that they could bear the cup of the Father’s wrath. This sort of misunderstanding is just what one would come to expect reading the Gospels’ account of the Twelve. The real puzzling part is Jesus’ answer. These Thunder-children will drink of that cup. They will be baptized with this same baptism. I assume that this is Jesus saying that they will suffer many things and then receive hundredfold what they lost (Mark 10:28-31). God sacrificed Israel (the faithful of Israel, that is to say, Jesus, Isaiah 53’s Suffering Servant) in order to receive the nations as his inheritance. Psalm 2 and Daniel 7:13 give us a picture of this inheritance reception. This may have some implications for our understanding of Paul’s baptismal theology in terms of union with Christ in His death (cf Rom 6:3 et al.) in order to be raised in justification and new life by faith.

Here begin full-bodied questions:

1. In what sense is the faithful suffering of the saints similar to Christ’s suffering?

2. How does Jesus’ teaching about serving apply to Christian civil magistrates? In what sense must/can the civil magistrate “lay his life down as a ransom for many”? One must be careful here!

If you disagree with anything, be gentle, for I am still learning precision in the written medium!

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