Bible Study October 8 for Worship October 21Posted: October 5, 2012
Bible Study October 8 for Worship October 21
Mark 10:35 And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came forward to him, and said to him, “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 And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at 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 And they said to him, “We are able.” And Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you will drink; and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized;
40 but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.”
41 And when the ten heard it, they began to be indignant at James and John.
42 And Jesus called them to him and said to them, “You know that those who are supposed to rule over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them.
43 But it shall not be so among you; but whoever would be great among you must be your servant,
44 and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all.
45 For the Son of man also came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
The disciples still didn’t get it. The first will be last the last will be first, if you would lead you must become as a servant. They still didn’t get it. Maybe we have a hard time getting it too. James and John were part of the inner most circle of the disciples. When they approached Jesus in this passage they sounded like children: “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” Whenever my kids tried that one on me, I knew I was in for a wild ride.
Jesus was consistent. He answered their question with a question: “What do you want me to do for you?”
James and John were seeking preferment in Jesus’ Kingdom, to sit at his left and right hand was to be made his chief lieutenants. They were anticipating personal glory and status. As it turned out, when Jesus entered into his glory there was a thief on his right hand, and a bandit on his left, and rather than mounting a royal throne, he was hanging from a cross.
In this passage Jesus seemed to anticipate his fate. So again he answered James and John with a question: “Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?”
Truly not knowing what they were asking, James and John responded in ignorance: “We are able.” Of course barely a few weeks later both James and John would abandon Jesus and go into hiding, when Jesus was arrested and executed.
In the second half of verse 39, we are unsure whether this was genuine Jesus or the early church reading subsequent events like the Lord’s Supper back into passage. Whether genuine or not it provides a challenge for all subsequent followers of Jesus. Do we accept the baptism of Jesus, his drowning in death, and his cup of suffering, or are we along for the ride so long as everything is smooth and easy, and we are being promised eternal life?
Verse 40 brings up another topic that suggests that at least the earthly Jesus is not synonymous with God: but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.” The Jesus of this passage does not control everything. He is a servant of God not God himself.
When the other disciples discovered that James and John were seeking preferment over them, they were upset. Who did these guys think they were anyway? But the other ten still didn’t get it. Following Jesus was not going to be a power struggle over who was going to achieve power, wealth and status, no following Jesus meant serving others – servant leadership. “Whoever would be first among you must be slave of all.” How many times does Jesus repeat the first will be last and the last will be first, and still in our churches we have status seeking, power plays, and narcissism. We want to be like the gentiles. We want to Lord it over those whom we profess to serve. Following the way of Jesus means embracing a level of sacrifice most of us would rather avoid. We feel pretty comfortable God, don’t call us, we’ll call you.
The last thought in the passage is summarized by the words, “give his life as a ransom for many.” This phrase can either mean “substitutionary atonement,” because Jesus died we don’t have to do anything, or it can mean following the way of Jesus will probably lead us into situations where we will have to make some sacrifices for others too. Thank God most of us will not be asked to be tortured to death. But all of us will be challenged to give of ourselves more than we might want to give. Only when we go beyond our limit of what we want to give do we discover the true joy of discipleship.
LET’S ASK SOME QUESTIONS OF THE TEXT
1. When James and John approach Jesus, what is their first question?
2. How does Jesus respond?
3. What is James and John’s second question?
4. What is Jesus’ response?
5. When the other disciples find out what James and John asked what is their reaction?
6. How does Jesus describe the leadership of the Gentiles?
7. How does the leadership style differ in the Commonwealth of God?
8. According to Jesus the person who follows him best will do what?
9. What kind of sacrifice does Jesus indicate may be required of his followers?
LET’S ALLOW THE TEXT TO ASK QUESTIONS OF US
1. If you could ask Jesus anything, what would you ask?
2. How do you imagine Jesus responding to you?
3. What do you think are the meanings of the baptism and the cup Jesus mentions?
4. What do you think it means that permission to sit at his right hand and his left is not Jesus’ to grant?
5. Do you think there are privileged positions in the Commonwealth of God? And if so who would be in those positions?
6. Are people in the church today ever jealous of other people who serve in leadership positions?
7. Have you known someone who really was a servant leader?
8. What kind of sacrifice do you think God might ask of you?
9. Has anyone ever sacrificed something for you? With what result?
Week of October 15 – October 21: Twenty-first Sunday After Pentecost – Mark 10::35-45 – Great Service – Job 38:1-7, (34-41), Psalm 104:1-9, 24, 35c, Isaiah 53:4-12, Psalm 91:9-16, Hebrews 5:1-10.