"I WANT TO SEE!"
As we continue our study in Mark chapter 10, Jesus continues to make His way down from the northern parts of Israel to Jerusalem, to the cross. And He is going to cross over from the east side of the Jordan River, the area of Perea, to the west side of the Jordan River, heading towards Jericho and then towards Jerusalem.
1. As Jesus is leading the way, His face is set upon Jerusalem, He is determined to get there, nothing is going to stop Him. It is as Isaiah 50:7 says, "For the Lord GOD will help Me; therefore I will not be disgraced; therefore I have set My face like a flint, and I know that I will not be ashamed." You see, Jesus was longing to save us and He knew that this would occur on the cross of Calvary. Now the disciples of Jesus were "afraid," they were paralyzed with fear. Why? Because they knew there was only trouble in Jerusalem, the religious leaders wanted Jesus dead, and they also might come after them!
1. The very thing they were afraid was going to happen Jesus tells them was going to happen. In Jerusalem the religious leaders, the Sanhedrin, would arrest Him, they would condemn Him to death, but since they had lost the right of capitol punishment, they would hand Jesus over to the Romans, the gentiles, and they would mock Him, beat Him and then put Him to death. But, on the third day Jesus was going to rise from the dead, but they didnt hear that part. Jesus said in John 12:27, "Now My Soul is troubled and distressed, and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour [of trial and agony]? But it was for this very purpose that I have come to this hour [that I might undergo it]." (The Amplified Bible). Jesus was trying to comfort them, take away their fear by telling them ahead of time what was going to take place.
2. Also, in Luke 18:31, we read "Then He took the twelve aside and said to them, Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of Man will be accomplished." In other words, check out what the prophets said of the Messiah and you will see that Jesus has fulfilled all they said, even His death and resurrection! Again, He is trying to encourage them.
1. As they are coming upon Jericho, maybe some 15 to 20 miles from Jerusalem, James and John pulled Jesus aside and asked if He would grant them whatever they wanted. A broad request and I guess the positive side to this is at least they realized Jesus could do it.
1. Now here is wisdom. Jesus didnt give them a blank check but He wanted more information. He wanted to know their request.
1. Jesus just got done talking about going to Jerusalem and being put to death and they are asking, James and John, if they could be co-rulers in the kingdom. In fact, it is worse than that. Matthew tells us that they brought up their mama, Salome, the wife of Zebedee. So mama Zebedee asks Jesus if her boys could have a place of prominence in the kingdom. Now understand this, Salome was the sister of Mary, the mother of Jesus. That means that James and John were first cousins to Jesus. (Matthew 27:56, Mark 15:40, John 19:25). So they not only felt the kingdom was coming, but since they were family, they though they had an in, they would get a special place in the kingdom. Cant you hear them, "Cos right hand, left hand, what do you think? Mom is here, she thinks we can handle it? So what is it? Which one of us gets the better side?" Also, they had a successful fishing business with their dad, and mama Zebedee could testify to that fact. You see, in the kingdom you would need bright men who had a good business sense, like James and John had. But that is not what Jesus was trying to teach them. They missed the lessons, so He will repeat them once again, as we shall see.
2. Understand this, for the last 6 months Jesus has been focusing on His death in Jerusalem. He has been teaching His men for the last 3 ½ years of being a servant, and they just did not get it. Imagine a person going to church for 3 ½ years, every Sunday and every Thursday. And I would ask them, "What have you learned?" And they responded by saying, "AHHH! I dont know!" That is what was going on here!
1. They had no idea what it meant to follow in the footsteps of Jesus. Remember verses 33 and 34, DEATH! The cup is a reference to Gods judgment being poured out upon sin. Thus, Christ was going to lay upon Himself the sins of the world, and receive the judgment or penalty for those sins. We cant do that. Also, to be baptized speaks of immersing. Jesus was totally given over to do the Fathers will, the mission He was on, moving towards the cross. And Jesus is asking James and John if they could do these things?
1. These guys had no clue to what Jesus was asking of them. They saw themselves as "Manly men!" But Jesus does tell them that as followers of Christ you will endure persecution just as Jesus did. It is as Jesus said in John 15:19, "If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you." So dont be surprised when the world comes against you or tries to bring you down. You will pay the price for being a follower of Jesus. Salvation is a free gift of God, but we do pay the price for following Him, as Paul said in Romans 8:16-18, "The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs-- heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us." Dont forget that and dont lose that perspective, that these things are only for a season when compared with eternity with the Lord.
1. The other 10 apostles, upon seeing what James and John had done, became angry. They too wanted those positions of great honor and these guys beat them to the punch, even getting their mom to ask for them, what a great touch! They could have even mocked them, "I cant believe you got your mama to come and ask Jesus if you could be co-ruler in the kingdom. You babies!" These were the ones Jesus picked to carry on the work after He was gone! I dont know about you, but it does give me great hope that God can use me!
2. All of them were focusing on the greatness of authority, and thus, Jesus is going to correct them by giving them a proper perspective of the situation.
1. Jesus is now dealing with 10 angry men and 2 disappointed men. And He shows them that in the world there is great emphasis placed on power, authority, positions, domination, but that is totally worldly. Thus, this is how they need to be...
1. If you want to be great in Gods kingdom, learn to be the servant of all! As the song goes. The word "servant" in verse 43 is the Greek word DIAKONOS and it means hired servant. And it came to mean in the church a deacon or someone who cared for the physical needs of people. Then in verse 44 Mark speaks of a "slave" or in the Greek a DOULOS. A slave or bondslave was someone who freely gave up all his rights to serve others. Thus, true greatness, true power in the eyes of Jesus is serving others while dying to self. Is that fair! Look at verse 45!
1. Jesus is our ultimate example of what it means to be a servant. The word "ransom" is the Greek word LYTRON which means "the price of release" and it refers to a payment for the release of a slave or captive. It also carries with it the idea of a substitution. In other words, Jesus exchanged His life, He took my place, so that I may live. And the lesson that Jesus is trying to teach these guys who were so interested in power and positions, is you need to give your life to others if you want to be great in Gods kingdom!
1. Jericho is some 15 miles from Jerusalem, and is 1,000 feet below sea level, while Jerusalem is some 2,500 feet above sea level. So even though they were heading south, they were still going up to Jerusalem.
2. Now Jericho was a beautiful oasis in the desert. Keep in mind that this was the time of the Passover, and thus, with this feast approaching, the roads were filled with people making their pilgrimage to Jerusalem for this feast. And this was a refreshing stop, and probably filled with many people at this time. Now here and in Matthew we are told He was leaving Jericho while Luke tells us He was entering Jericho. Is that a contradiction? Not at all! You see, the old city of Jericho was about 1 ½ miles away from the new city of Jericho which Herod the Great built as a winter resort for himself. So as Jesus left one city of Jericho, He was also entering the next city of Jericho!
3. Also, in Matthew it speaks of two blind men and in Mark only one! Why? Because Mark is going to focus on the one that was the loudest, and that was Bartimaeus. Now Bartimaeus must have thought he would do good with the crowds, as he begged for money to help support himself. But, as we are going to see, he is going to get much more than he thought!
1. There must have been a lot of noise, more so than normal, and this blind man inquires the reason for it. And they tell him that Jesus is in town! Now he must have heard of Jesus, but because of his condition, he was never able to meet Him. But now here was a golden opportunity for him. And so, at the top of his lungs, he begins to cry out to Jesus, wanting to get His attention. The interesting thing to me is this blind man calls Jesus the "Son of David," which was a Messianic title. He recognized who Jesus was and yet many of his day were blind to this fact! And so he screams at the top of his lungs to get Jesus attention, and he is doing this for awhile.
1. This is sad. The crowds were telling him to shut up. He was embarrassing them. Maybe they didnt believe Jesus was the Messiah. Maybe they didnt want this poor, dirty, blind man to bother Jesus! But this guy didnt care! Why? Because he knew he was blind and that Jesus could heal him. And it was not just the physical blindness, but spiritually he was empty and he wanted to drink from the living water that only Jesus could give to him. He didnt care what the crowds were saying, what his friends thought, he wanted to see Jesus!
1. I love this about Jesus. Through all the other noise, He heard the cry of someone in need and responded to it. Despite all that He faced, He met the needs of others. What an example for us. And the crowds that were telling him to shut up were now telling this blind man to get up and go!
1. This garment was a cloth that was used to collect the money that people would give to him. Why did he throw it away? He wasnt going to need it anymore! What faith!
1. Jesus didnt need this information, but it was for this man to speak of what was on his heart, to stretch his faith and to ask the impossible from God. He desired to see again.
1. Literally Jesus is telling this man that he is saved! Not only was he physically healed of his blindness, but his spiritual eyes were also opened. And then he followed after Jesus. Where was Jesus going? To the cross, and this man was there with Him, following after Him. It is as Jesus said in Mark 8:34, "...Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me." This is the last healing that Mark speaks of, as Jesus is now going to Jerusalem, and as we shall see next time, riding into town on a donkey as Messiah the King!