Friday, February 18, 2011

An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday February 20, 2011

(With HIS OWN life, JESUS teaches about serving others)
(Mark 10:35-45)

To ask for a place of honor in JESUS’ glory is a requisite to requesting to share also, in HIS suffering. Inherently, you can’t have one without the other. For JESUS, the only way to glory was through the cross, and so it must be, for those who choose to follow HIM. In the Gospel according to John Mark, in chapter 10 taking up at verse 35, two of JESUS’ original disciples, James and John, unwittingly evoke a lesson in “Servant Leadership” from the SON of GOD.
In the biblical Greek the word used for “servant” is “diakonos” (dee-ak-on-os), and it describes “one who serves in a menial capacity”. In JESUS’ response to the request by James and John to be given seats of honor in HIS coming Kingdom (Mark 10:35-37), JESUS replies in summation that, “Whoever wishes to become great among you, shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you, shall be servant to all”.
Here in this passage, John Mark exposes something very human about the disciples of JESUS, after all, they were just simple and ordinary men with no theological training. But when JESUS set out to overcome the death and sins of this world, it was with just such men that HE chose to do it. This passage not only gives us a peek at James’ and John’s ambitiousness, but it also reveals their selfishness and pride. It shows us that they had not, at least to this point, understood JESUS’ living earthly examples, over the past 2 ½ years, of what servant leadership was all about.
However, one good thing does seem to stand out in this passage, and that is, as confused as the two men were about how they could obtain honor from GOD in the coming kingdom, they were sure that there would be a coming kingdom, and so we see from that point of view, that their hearts, at least, were in the right place.
This story also tells us a lot about JESUS’ standard of what greatness is. In verse 38, JESUS uses two well-known biblical metaphors. First HE asks James and John, “Are you able to drink the cup that I drink?”, and then HE asks them, Are you able to be baptized with the baptism, with which I AM baptized with?”
“Drink the cup” is the Jewish expression that means, “sharing one’s fate or destiny”. The “cup” can be used as a symbol of both “joy” and “suffering”. In the Old Testament, it often symbolized GOD’s wrath against sin. The term “baptism”, here in this passage, symbolizes someone deeply immersed in pain and troubles.
Ultimately, as we now know, both James and John did “drink the cup”, and, were “baptized with the baptism” of CHRIST. Acts 12:2 tells us that James went on to become the first of the original disciples to be martyred, as he was ordered to be slain with the sword, by King Herod Agrippa I, the son of Herod the Great, circa A.D. 43.
And as for John, he lived a long life of persecution and suffering before, and after, being exiled to the Greek island of Patmos by the Roman Emperor, Domitian, where he later penned the Book of Revelations according to the visions he received from CHRIST JESUS very late in the first century A.D.
In the biblical Greek, the word used for “ransom” is “lutron” (loo-tron), and it describes something that is used to “set free” something else, and it is also “the cost, or price to redeem”. The use of this word in verse 45, perhaps, makes it the key verse in John Mark’s whole Gospel account, because it clearly states the reason for which JESUS came into the world, and that reason, of course, is to redeem us from sin and death.
The book of Mark was written explicitly to make men see and understand, through JESUS’ miracles, that HE truly is the SON of the LIVING GOD. HE came to serve us by dying as the vicarious sacrifice for our lives on the cross by Roman method, when no one else, and nothing else, would do. And by doing so, HE became the ultimate “SERVANT LEADER”, and the ULTIMATE ROLE MODEL for all who wish to “serve” in a leadership capacity, especially within the Christian Faith.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander

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