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Mark’s first-century biography – page 30

And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came up to him (Jesus of Nazareth, c. AD 30) and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we may ask of you.” And he said to them, “What do you want me to do for you?” And they said to him, “Give to us that we may sit, one on your right and one on your left, in your glory.” 
 
James and John start by asking for a blank cheque. Then they come clean. They want prime positions when Jesus becomes glorious.

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?” But they said to him, “We are able.”

 
They hadn’t realised that Jesus would become glorious by rejection, suffering and death – for others. Were they prepared to be baptised like him? They thought that whatever “baptism” was, if Jesus received it, they’d enjoy it too. 

‘What kind of greatness can this be/ That chose to be made small?’ (Graham Kendrick, songwriter) 
But 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. But to sit on my right or on my left is not mine to give, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.” 
 
The first of these two statements can be tested against history. Whilst James was executed by King Herod in Jerusalem, John died of old age in the Greek island of Patmos. It may well be that, by this statement, Jesus was stating that these two brothers would participate in his “baptism” and “cup” by being amongst the many in whose place Jesus would shortly suffer and die. Who would be the worthiest amongst those ‘many’? That now needed to be taught to all the disciples.
 
And when the ten heard it, they began to be indignant at James and John. And Jesus called them near to him and stated to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and the great ones among them exercise authority over them."

The remaining disciples were miffed. They too wanted prime positions. Jesus describes the hierarchies which still dominate our world today.

"But it shall not be so among you. Instead whoever may wish to become great among you will be your servant, and whoever may wish to be first among you will be slave of all. Because even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom in exchange for many.” 

Those hierarchies which we know so well are reversed for Jesus’ true followers. The greatest among them will serve others the most – because their leader had come to earth so as to serve and so as to give his life as a ransom to pay the price for others to be released.

And they came to Jericho. And going outside of Jericho - he and his disciples and a worthwhile crowd - Bartimaeus, a blind beggar, the son of Timaeus, was sitting down by the roadway. And hearing that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout and to state, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 

No sooner have the disciples received this teaching than a clear example arises to aid their understanding. 

And many rebuked him so that he might be silent. But he shouted out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” And Jesus, stopping, said, “Call him.” And they called the blind man, stating to him, “Take heart. Rise up; he is calling you.” 

A “worthwhile crowd” is with Jesus. But none wanted him to serve a poor blind beggar. Three times the verb ‘to call’ is used: “Call him!”; “They called the blind man. “; He is calling you.” That’s what Jesus does - call people.

 
But throwing away his cloak, springing up he came to Jesus. 

That’s what blind beggars do – when they know who to turn to….

‘O what else can I do/ But kneel and worship you/ And come just as I am/ My whole life an offering.’ (Graham Kendrick, songwriter)
And Jesus answering said to him, “What do you wish that I may do for you?” Then the blind man said to him, “Rabbi, that I may see clearly.” And Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he saw clearly and followed him on the roadway.

He saw clearly. He followed Jesus “in the way”. To his cross – and his also.

 
Sinner Syvret

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