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Graceful Discipleship

SUFFERING KING: THE BOOK OF MARK:
Graceful Discipleship: Mark 10:34-45
Pastor John Weathersby
Sunday November 22, 2020

Jesus walk to Jerusalem, now His ministry’s final days marks His passion for the mission. We noted last week that he lead the group from the front – as fearful confused followers in an almost desperate to not be left following, …followed.

Today we see Jesus deal with a confusion among the disciples, something that could look like a power grab in need of immediate swift decisive and effective correction. But we see Jesus do something else, and it demonstrates His graceful discipleship, at a time of great tension.

Working at home in COVID is interesting – because lots of the separation of duties that we would have had before are gone. That time “standing by the water cooler” talking to people at work is gone, maybe, some people are isolated alone, living, working, eating alone. Others, are in houses where two people are both working parallel jobs in the same place, still others where kids are learning while two or one other are working – lines are crossed and blurred and tensions are high.

People are getting snippy and testy, that happens when tensions are high. I don’t know about you, but I don’t like to be interrupted when I’m working. It takes a lot for me to concentrate – and when I’m not concentrating I don’t do as well. Even being on a phone call; people will try to have a parallel conversation with you – what seems like a simple question like “where are the crackers” while you’re on a work call can seem like justification for murder.

I want you place yourself in the life and ministry of Jesus for these next few minutes as we dive into the text before us. How bothered I am on a phone call when someone asks about crackers verses Jesus dealing with disciples He chose to be apostles upon which to create His lasting institution of the Church while marching with purpose towards His death that would bring about salvation of the world, His day was vastly more important than mine, yet His tone and tenor was different, His patience greater, and His purpose in discipleship, honed.

Mark 10:35–45 (ESV)
The Request of James and John
35 And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came up to him and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.”

Who are these “sons of Zebedee”?

Zebedee we met in Matthew 4:21

21 And going on from there he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets, and he called them.

Jesus is gathering together his disciples – Zebedee and his sons are working, mending nets when Jesus calls. The sons leave, immediately. No haste, no conversation with Zebedee, they’re just out and by faith ready to follow Jesus. Zebedee who undoubtedly could have used their hands isn’t recorded has chasing, intercepting or being angry – they just go.

Late we’ll see their mother, Salmoe in a few places, but compellingly she’s in Mark 15:40 and Luke 23:49 – having followed Jesus up-to, and through the crucifixion events. Her faith and her following was rare among Jesus’ followers. So let’s keep that frame of mind as we read these events and I think they’ll help us to understand the story.

Mark 15:40 (ESV)
40 There were also women looking on from a distance, among whom were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome.

Luke 23:49 (ESV)
49 And all his acquaintances and the women who had followed him from Galilee stood at a distance watching these things.

Let me start here; I think young men are full of zeal, often energetic to take big-bold moves to take sweeping and decisive action on perceived confusion and injustice. So quickly we can be ready to sacrifice people without any patience or room for those people to grow. I think there is a balance to be found between correction and discipleship and we’ll see that in Jesus here. This is a perfect example of servant leadership – and if you can imagine a relay race, where baton is passed from runnier to runner completing subsequent legs – here a baton passes from Jesus, if we see it. The passing Mark draws us too, is graceful, not hard, discipleship.

The Request of James and John
35 And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came up 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.”

Now this is where zealous young derisive action taking leadership takes a back seat to the realities of the situation. A few things of note:

Jesus has determined to disciple these men
These men are confused on the details
These men are following from faith, and faith matters

I believe Jesus took these factors into consideration as He answers them.

These are men He called from their vocation to follow Him; not because he needed some buds for the journey. But because they’d be His disciples, and more than that they’d be apostles to establish the foundation of His Church (Eph 2:20). They, in cahoots with their Mother (Matthew 20:20) – Mark tells the story from their intentions, Matthew from the presence of their mother, (all agreed mom and the boys – that this was the plan and the right thing to be doing) in this conversation.

Ephesians 2:20 (ESV)
20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone,

Matthew 20:20 (ESV)
A Mother’s Request
20 Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came up to him with her sons, and kneeling before him she asked him for something.

38 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,

We were following Jesus through the question, through the end of v. 38, but we got through part a of v. 29 and things got murky. How’s that, Jesus? They’ll drink and be baptized with you? Perhaps you (rightly) here Jesus use the concept of “baptism” and “drinking from the cup” and baptism conjures up thoughts of death, burial and resurrection to life, washing away of sins – and the cup, the fullness of God’s wrath being poured out against the deserving offenders and thing; oh foolish sons of Zebedee, ya’ll are about to get voted off of Survivor Jerusalem.

But remember these points of note:

Jesus has determined to disciple these men
These men are confused on the details
These men are following from faith, and faith matters

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.”

That was it, that was the hammer statement with all the power of this passage. Read it again, to the Christian, to the believing follower found in Christ, over time this very passage Mark 10:40 will become balm to your soul. You’ll look at it and laugh, and increasingly get it over time. You’ll learn to know the grace, and mercy, and love of God here.

This is where zealous quick to action “leaders” would perhaps squash the life out of someone, and this is where we need to learn about discipleship. From Jesus, where be take the baton – in grace Jesus gives the truth of the matter – and corrects gently. The Zealous crowd was ready for Jesus to squash them out look at the next passage:

41 And when the ten heard it, they began to be indignant at James and John.

Maybe you’ve seen that play-out in churches before. Maybe not. So and so did this, or did that; you need to call them out. They cannot get a way with it. They want hard correction. Immediate blood letting.

Matthew 7:1–3 (ESV)
Judging Others
1 “Judge not, that you be not judged.
2 For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.
3 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?

So often Jesus would teach on humble living among one another. Why?

BECAUSE WE NEED TO HEAR IT! Why?

BECAUSE WE’RE SICK WITH PRIDE AND DRAWN TOWARDS IT.

Watch Jesus’ reaction:

42 And Jesus called them to him and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones 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 even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

“it shall not be so among you” – what? What shall not be so? The “rules” of the gentiles, what do they do with power and authority? They “lord it over them”.

It’s like the Hunger Games and the capital district is I think the best lampoon of that sort of thing. The ruling class take positional authority over the “others” who are to follow. Where as we, Jesus is saying as members of God’s kingdom should desire not elevation and pomp, rather we should desire a kind of Kingdom, that is God’s not ours to rule.

Knowing that for a time, while it’s in the order of time subjected to human rule it will look different. That different look is part of what make people curious about God’s kingdom, to blend in too much to the authoritarian political system of our day is to fail to reach Jesus’ aim for His church.

Jesus’ gave His life as a ransom for many.

1 Peter 1:18–19 (ESV)
18 knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold,
19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.

Jesus gave His life – that was His purpose that He’s telling his disciples now “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” To serve others with His perfect life and make payment for slaves to death (us) to being them to life – not with money, but His very blood.

How bothered I am on a phone call when someone asks about crackers verses Jesus dealing with disciples He chose to be apostles upon which to create His lasting institution of the Church while marching with purpose towards His death that would bring about salvation of the world, His day was vastly more important than mine, yet His tone and tenor was different, His patience greater, and His purpose in discipleship, honed.

Jesus’ is graceful, not hard, discipleship. There is our baton to take. Our purpose is creating a loving Church where humility is displayed as pinnacle, not positional authority. Not to the lack of order and discipline, but under open subjection to God’s word and will.

This is the Church.

It’s different and feels odd, it’s purposes aren’t tainted by the worlds sick quest for power, rather it seeks for others in the faith Romans 12:9–12 (ESV)

Marks of the True Christian
9 Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.
10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.
11 Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.
12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.

Isn’t this interesting – I said zealous young leaders squash, but here we see zealousness as good, which is it, the answer is, yes. IN our reading as a leadership team through “Knowing God” on the jealousness of God, Packer notes how could jealousy be a virtue in God and a vice in humans. – there in lies the answer; it’s not jealously it’s not zealously it’s our position before God.

1 Corinthians 10:23 – All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up.

1 Corinthians 10:23 (ESV)
Do All to the Glory of God
23 “All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up.

This is the baton passed to you, through Christs example; be a humble servant, loving all – gentile in spirit, scripturally informed and directed, passionate for God looking forward to the fullness of God’s glory in the next life.

Pray, Observe, Apply.

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