Thoughts for the Day

Wednesday, 29th May 2024: Suffering and Servanthood

Mark 10 Servant Suffering Disciples Jesus

Reading : Verses from Mark, Chapter 10


They were on the road, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking ahead of them; they were amazed, and those who followed were afraid. He took the twelve aside again and began to tell them what was to happen to him, saying, ‘See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death; then they will hand him over to the Gentiles; they will mock him, and spit upon him, and flog him, and kill him; and after three days he will rise again.’

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.’ And he said to them, ‘What is it you want me to do for you?’ And they said to him, ‘Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.’ But Jesus said to them, ‘You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?’ They replied, ‘We are able.’ Then 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 at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.’

When the ten heard this, they began to be angry with James and John. So Jesus called them and said to them, ‘You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all..’

(Lectionary, New Revised Standard Version)


We have lived through the Good Friday and Easter story experiences, the weeks of Jesus' resurrection appearances and finally through to Pentecost and the coming of the Holy Spirit, so we may find this passage from Mark's Gospel somewhat shocking. Jesus has set his face towards Jerusalem, and he begins to teach his disciples that he is going to his death. Notice his courage, how he strides out ahead of them on the road to face his future, while they are afraid and lag behind him. Having heard the worst of what awaits them, however, James and John make their bid for power, and for position and authority in this new Kingdom. If Peter frequently gets it wrong, that is nothing to the mistake these two sons of Zebedee have made.

So Jesus explains that the way to greatness is not as the world imagines, it is likely to be a path of suffering. He uses the word "baptism" in the way we say something is a "baptism of fire", that is, an overwhelming ordeal. As the Messiah is called to give up everything to live and die in obedience to the Father, for the sake of humanity, then they too may face similar experiences:- the shame of rejection by their people; the ignominy of being handed over to gentiles; the agony of death for their belief in him.

Secondly, Jesus speaks to them of greatness through service. During his life with them they have seen this as he healed the sick, ministered to the weak, welcomed the outcast, and fed the hungry. Supremely we saw this in the other gospels when he took off his outer robe, wrapped a towel around his waist, and washed his disciples' feet (John 13.3-5).


Lord Jesus Christ,
'Suffering Servant',
and 'Saviour' of us all
may we never forget
what You gave up for us
in coming to earth as a man,
and Your courage in facing
those who were to reject
and ultimately kill You.
Help us to pick up Your mantle
of service for others,
and to endure any rejection
or hardship with grace.

Follow Up Thoughts

You might like to play this hymn:

Or this old hymn:

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