Last Leg: Mark 10:32-45

Day 26
March 15, 2018
“Last Leg to Jerusalem”
Mark 10:32-45

We’re closing in on the city and on the passion. Jesus leads, and the lads hang back and drag their feet. The next ranks were amazed. The back ranks were scared. Who, ‘marches off to Armageddon’?

Here’s another prediction, third and last, privately, to the 12, of the script for the passion. Compared to the first two, in chapters 8 and 9, it’s a bit more detailed. Jesus fingers the religious leaders for the betrayal, and Gentile power for assault and murder. There’s no attribution of who does the resurrecting – nor a ‘Messianic secret’.

So James and John, in the echoes of the prediction, ask a favour. ‘Godfather, please grant me this favour.’ It’s also an echo of the daughter of Herodias, and Herod offering here ‘whatever she wants, up to half his kingdom’. We’re wincing already, at the presumption. They just don’t get it – yet. Do we?

Jesus invites them to name their desire, and they put it on the table: right and left hand in glory – thus ‘right hand man’. Like John’s gospel, Mark redefines glory in the mouth of Jesus: drink the cup I drink, be baptized with the baptism I get. He’s going to drink the cup and be baptized by the baptism of humiliating death. 

No problem, they blithely, glibly say, ‘yes, we can’ (as Obama used to say). Wryly, ruefully, I think, Jesus says, yep, ‘yes, you will’. They too will suffer. Time enough for that. But the payoff is not his to deliver – it’s a given – is that predestinarian, or fatalistic, or saying God is in charge, and not Jesus?

The 10 get wind of the 2 ambitious brothers – and get mad at them. Jesus chastises all 12:  that’s how Gentiles lead – not so among us. Remember Monday’s stuff on ministers? Remember yesterday’s stuff on last and first? How dense can they be? How slow can we remain?

Need a role model on this sacrificial, self-giving thing? Look no further than this Jesus. Give as a ransom for many – must it be blood atonement, the great credit card in the sky? I don’t think so… self-giving hostage volunteer?  Perhaps just the kenosis of God restraining Godself to make room for us to respond –and Jesus’ passion simply re-presenting God’s own risk and results.

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, 

‘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,

 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.

For the Son of Man came
not to be served
 but to serve,
and to give his life
 a ransom for many.’