How would you answer if Jesus asked, “What would you like me to do for you?” In our text two different people are asked that question. Jesus uses this as a teaching moment, and we must listen!
Mark’s gospel is a gospel ‘on the move’ – and our text has Jesus on the go – he is headed to Jerusalem. Mark tells us that Jesus is walking ahead of the disciples. He tells them what is going to happen (Mark 10:33-34 “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death and deliver him over to the Gentiles. 34 And they will mock him and spit on him, and flog him and kill him. And after three days he will rise.”). This is the third time Jesus has told them about his death and resurrection. He includes new details: mock, spit, and scourge. Now if you were there in that moment, and Jesus asked, “What would you like me to do for you?” What would be your answer?
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.”Mark 10:35-37, CSB
Stedman says they asked for 3 things: Preeminence – to sit on the thrones of honor. Proximity – to sit near the Lord. Power – that is what a throne represents. We might think badly of them, except for two reasons: (1) Jesus does not seem to be offended by question – he does not rebuke them. (2) We have sometimes followed Jesus for what He can give to us. What do we want Jesus to do for us?
Why We Misunderstand What Jesus Offers
-He will make my life awesome and trouble free.
-He will take away all consequences fo our sin.
-He will fix all of my relationship problems
-He will take away my struggles.
Jesus does not promise to make every life worry-free!
Misunderstood Blessings. What we receive from Jesus…
– Love – but not always approval for our actions.
– Healing – but not always total.
– Forgiveness – but not permission to continue.
– Ministry opportunities – not comfortable membership
– Truth – not appeasement
He meets our greatest Needs – and loves us enough not to give us all that we want.
Comparisons to others
This conversation resulted in the other disciples being indignant with James and John. (10:41 And when the ten heard it, they began to be indignant at James and John. )
They wanted to sit on the thrones by Jesus too! When Jesus asked James and John what they wanted him to do for them, they responded with requests that were self-serving. He points out that the Gentile leaders seek to have authority over others and serve themselves. (Mark 10:42 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. ) What Jesus teaches them next is the kingdom life he wants to give them. Instead of thrones, position, and power – hear the calling to the Jesus life.
GUIDELINES TO THE JESUS LIFE (10:43-45)
To be great, be a servant. To be first, be last To receive, give. (10:43-44)
But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”Mark 10:43-45
These teachings go against the grain. They remind us that seeking our own will, living in our own expectations, and focused on ourselves is not the way of the Kingdom. This is another moment for the “I” Test – a look in the mirror. Are we willing to follow Jesus’ teachings?
Pivotal THEME of Mark’s Gospel:
“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45)
THE DEMONSTRATION OF DISCIPLESHIP (Mark 10:46-52)
A beggar named Bartimaeus calls out to Jesus.
And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 48 And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” 49 And Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart. Get up; he is calling you.” 50 And throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus.Mark 10:47-50
Notice how Jesus puts into practice what he has just taught his disciples about following him:
To be great, be a servant.
The crowds, disciples, all shush the beggar. Jesus is on a mission, he is important, he is Savior. He hears Bartimaeus and calls him.
To be first, be last.
What do you want me to do for you? (10:51) Bartimaeus doesn’t ask for a throne next to Jesus. Jesus heals Bartimaeus – placing his own agenda and importance on hold for a blind outcast beggar.
To receive, give.
Jesus gave Bartimaeus his sight. Bartimaeus gave himself to Jesus. “Immediately he could see and began to follow Jesus on the road.” Early church traditions say that he followed Jesus all the way to the cross and later became a major figure in the church at Jerusalem. Not hard to believe!
Who are we hearing that we can serve? Who are we serving without anything in return? Who are we putting before ourselves? To whom are we giving our time, love, and care?
To receive from Jesus the greatest of His gifts (Akin, Daniel – Christ-Centered Exposition series Mark):
-See the One who needs our help – loving and helping one person at a time.
-Never be too busy to stop and help if you are able. Jesus stopped on his death march to help a nobody.
-Hear the cries of the hurting and respond as you are able.
-Rejoice when the hurting are healed and the lost are saved!
When his disciple argued about who should be first, powerful, and by his side, he gave them a mission statement: I came to serve and to give my life as a ransom for many. How would that change things in your family? Workplace? Neighborhood? Marketplace? World?
What do you want Jesus to do for you? He will save you today. He will receive you back today. He will model Kingdom living every day.
- How does the request of James and John seem inappropriate in light of Mark 10:32-34?
- What does it mean to sit at Jesus’ right and left hand (Mark 10:37)
- How might someone express a similar attitude to Jesus today?
- How does Jesus challenge and clarify their request (Mark 10:38-40)?
- What does he mean by his “cup” and his “baptism” (see Matthew 26:39; Romans 6:3-4)?
- Why do you think the other disciples were so indignant (Mark 10:41)?
- How does Jesus stand the world’s concept of greatness on its head—both in his teaching and example (Mark 10:42-45)?
- What opportunities for greatness do you have at home, at work or in your church?
- Does it just happen that the story of the blind beggar follows next—or are the two stories related? Explain.
- Contrast the attitude “many” had toward Bartimaeus with Jesus’ attitude (Mark 10:46-52).
- What attracts you to a leader like Jesus?
Questions: Leighton Ford (2013). LifeGuide Topical Bible Studies. InterVarsity Press.