Sometimes Christians fantasize about what it would have been like to walk the roads of Israel with Jesus. What would it have been like to hear him teach? to witness the miraculous healings? to hand out the loaves and the fish to the crowd of 5,000 plus? What would it have been like to walk with Jesus? In Mark 10, we get a glimpse into what it was like to walk with Jesus on the road to Jerusalem.
In Mark 10, Jesus is making his last trip to Jerusalem. What awaited him in Jerusalem? Was it a Triumphal Entry of the King? Or would the King of the Jews be nailed to a cross? Both would happen. Jesus makes this final voyage to Jerusalem in the shadow of the cross. We read in…
Mark 10:32 NLT They were now on the way up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking ahead of them. The disciples were filled with awe, and the people following behind were overwhelmed with fear…
Opposition against Jesus had been building. From the beginning of his ministry, the religious authorities had increasingly opposed him…
- They opposed him when he forgave sins (Mk. 2:7).
- They opposed him when he ate with sinners and tax collectors (Mk. 2:16).
- They opposed him because his disciples did not fast (Mk. 2:18).
- They opposed him because his disciples plucked grain on the Sabbath (Mk. 2:24).
- They opposed him when he healed on the Sabbath (Mk. 3:2).
- They accused him of using the power of Satan to cast out demons (Mk. 3:22).
- They opposed him because his disciples did not follow the tradition of the elders (Mk. 7:5).
The opposition had become so intense that for a while, Jesus went into Gentile territory. There he healed the daughter of the Syrophoenician woman, unstopped the ears and loosened the tongue of a deaf mute, opened the eyes of a blind man, and fed a crowd of 4,000 plus. The gospel was for the Jew first, but not for the Jews alone.
But now, Jesus had left Gentile territory. He had returned to Jewish territory and was, in fact…
1. On the Road Again… to Jerusalem
Mark 10:32 ESV …they were on the road, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking ahead of them. And they were amazed, and those who followed were afraid…
Jesus is walking head on to Jerusalem, the seat of the opposition. Jerusalem was the not only the seat of opposition; it was also the seat of political power. And Jesus is walking ahead of them, leading the way.
Luke 9:51 ESV …he set his face to go to Jerusalem.
He set his “face like a flint” to fulfill the purpose for which he came (Isaiah 50:7).
The Third Announcement of His Death
Mark 10:32-34 ESV …And taking the twelve again, he began to tell them what was to happen to him…”
This is the third time that Jesus has told the Twelve that he would be killed and after three days, rise from the dead.
1.1. The death of Christ was not an accident.
Jesus’ foreknowledge of his death shows that it was no accident. The death of Christ on the cross was not a tragedy. It was not a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Jesus tells his disciples in detail exactly what is going to happen to him:
Mark 10:33-34 ESV saying, “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 that Jesus tells his disciples about his imminent death, but it is the first time that Jesus announces the place of his death. It would take place in Jerusalem.
He calls himself the Son of Man: “the Son of Man will be delivered…” “Son of Man” is Jesus’ favorite title. It refers to his incarnation and his mission. He is the Word that became flesh. He is the God in the flesh. He is the God-man.
Hebrews 10 tells us that the Son of God became a man in order to offer his own blood as a sacrifice for our sin.
1.2. The Son of Man will be delivered.
Several times in the Gospels, the religious authorities tried to arrest him. They even tried to kill him, but it was not his time. On one hand, he would give his life:
John 10:17-18 ESV For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”
On the other hand, he would be delivered: “the Son of Man will be delivered.” He would be delivered by God the Father. On the Day of Pentecost, Peter preached
Acts 2:23 ESV this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.
This is what we mean when we quote John 3:16,
John 3:16 ESV “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
God gave his only Son. He delivered him up for us.
Romans 4:25 ESV who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.
Romans 8:32 ESV He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?
The Father gave his Son, and the Son gave himself.
1.3. Jesus has exact knowledge of what awaits him.
This third announcement of his death is the most detailed. Jesus announces that two groups of people will be involved in his death: the Jewish authorities and the Roman authorities:
- 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.
- And they will mock him and
- spit on him, and
- flog him and
- kill him.
- And after three days he will rise
“Jesus’s prophecy concerning ‘the things [that] were about to happen to him’… is not portrayed by Mark as coming via a revelation from God.” No, Jesus has direct and precise knowledge of the various details of his death. Mark wants us to know that…
Jesus’s death was neither a tragedy nor an unfortunate turn of events. Jesus went to Jerusalem knowing full well that he would be put to death. He knew the precise details of what would be involved, but he nevertheless went because this was a divine necessity (8:31; cf. 14:21a), and he desired to fulfill his Father’s will (14:36).
Mark 8:31 ESV …the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again.
Mark 14:21 ESV For the Son of Man goes as it is written of him…
He will pray in the garden,
Mark 14:36 ESV …”Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”
The prophet Isaiah had said of Christ, 700 years before,
Isaiah 53:10 ESV Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.
2. The Jesus Holdup: Give Us What We Want!
The disciples still understand none of this. On the one hand, they follow Jesus with great fear and trepidation, not understanding what he is talking about. They are blinded by their own misunderstanding of what they expect and hope the Messiah to do, and by their own ambitions. They are blinded by their lust for power.
In Mark 9:31, when Jesus teaches the disciples a second time about his death and resurrection,
Mark 9:32 ESV But they did not understand the saying, and were afraid to ask him.
Then Jesus asked them what they had been discussing on the way,
Mark 9:34 ESV But they kept silent, for on the way they had argued with one another about who was the greatest.
Arguing about who was the greatest? They are not arguing about theology or the best methods of healing. They are arguing about who is number one!
Who is the greatest? The answer is obvious. Jesus is the greatest. Now he must show them true greatness.
Mark 9:35 ESV And he sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them, “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.”
What do they know about greatness?
We fast-forward back to chapter 10 where Jesus has just told his disciples that he will be delivered in Jerusalem to be killed.
Mark 10:35 ESV 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.”
That’s quite a request! They want a guarantee from Jesus that he will give them whatever they ask. They are asking Jesus for a blank check.
Mark 10:36-37 ESV 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.”
James and John are asking for positions of power along side Jesus in his coming kingdom. They want to be number two and number three in the line of authority. They are asking for the best seats in the house.
Where was Peter in all this? You will remember that Peter and James and John were the closest of the 12 disciples. Those three disciples had accompanied Jesus when he raised from the dead the daughter of Jairus. Jesus had taken Peter and James and John with him on the Mount of Transfiguration. But Peter is not mentioned in their request. Where they trying to shut him out? Where they afraid that he might get in line before them?
It is no wonder that we fail to understand suffering and rejection and the cross when we are carried along by blind ambition, trying to be number one. We want to get ahead of everyone else in line. We want first place. Jesus’ determination to go to the cross is totally incomprehensible to us, and yet, he said,
Mark 8:34 ESV … “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”
Jesus told James and John,
Mark 10:38 ESV … ”You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?”
2.1. Leadership involves suffering.
“Are you able to drink the cup?” Jesus is not asking if they will become his wine-tasters. “Nor is the cup the cup of victory (Pss 23:5; 116:13), though the disciples might hope that it were so. They will not be drinking from a silver chalice.”
In Scripture, the “cup” almost always refers to suffering. Jesus prayed, “Let this cup pass from me, nevertheless, not my will, but yours be done.”
Closeness to Jesus means sharing his suffering and death, just as he has said that anyone who follows him must deny himself and take up his cross.
James and John gave a quick and easy response:
Mark 10:39 ESV And they said to him, “We are able.” And 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,
Suffer, they would. James would be beheaded (Acts 12:2), and John would be exiled.
Leadership involves suffering.
2.2. Leadership involves a divine assignment.
Mark 10:40 ESV 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.”
We do not choose our positions or the conditions of our service. We deny ourselves and submit to the will of God.
We can and should prepare ourselves and offer ourselves for service.
Abraham Lincoln was the sixteen president of the United States of America. Over 150 years ago, before Lincoln became president, slavery was lawful in the United States.
Long before Abraham Lincoln was in public life, he saw a slave being traded at a public market in New Orleans. The sight, he said, went like “steel into my soul,” and he told himself that if he ever had a chance to do something about it he would. “I will prepare myself,” he resolved, “and some day my change will come.” And his time did come.
It is one thing to prepare for service; it is another thing to seek for promotion.
Mark 10:41 NET Now when the other ten heard this, they became angry with James and John.
Who did James and John think they were? Did they think that they were better than the other disciples? Self-promotion breeds division. When people begin to grab power for themselves, trouble begins. But the reaction of the other 10 disciples was no better. They were upset “because James and John thought of the idea and got to Jesus first!” They are “still clinging to the same values of the world in terms of power-seeking and self-assertion.”
It is interesting to note that Jesus said that it was not his place to assign those positions. Though he was God, he was not the Father. He distinguishes between his position as Son and his Father’s position. The Scriptures everywhere affirm three things about God:
- There is only one God.
- The Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God.
- The Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit are distinct persons within the one true God.
It is mystery, but it is not contradictory.
2.3. Leadership involves servanthood.
Mark 10:42-44 ESV 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. 43 But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all.
Jesus describes leadership principles according to the world’s standards. The rulers of this world use power and authority to lord it over others. The so-called “great ones exercise authority over” others.
We do not force our views upon others. We do not force or coerce faith. That is actually impossible, for faith comes from the heart. We do not take up the sword to convince people to convert. When Peter took up his sword to defend Jesus, Jesus rebuked him, told him to put up his sword, warned him that those who take up the sword will die by the sword, and then Jesus healed the man that Peter had injured.
Sinful man exalts himself to the place of God. The serpent in the Garden of Eden promised that we could be like God. Man has displaced God and wants to be his own god and to lord it over others. We have turned everything upside down, so Jesus has come to turn things right side up.
There are great problems when we bring worldly methods into the church, when we run the church following the methods of the world. But when that happens, we are no longer the church! Jesus said, “But it shall not be so among you.” Jesus is not encouraging us to behave in a certain way. He is not telling us that his kingdom does not operate according to the world’s methods of leadership. Those who operate according to the world’s methods are not part of his kingdom; they are not following Jesus: “It shall not be so among you.”
Now, there are many who claim to follow Jesus but who lord it over others and exercise authority over others. The Apostle Peter tells us that pastors are not to lord it over the people assigned to their care but to lead them be their own good example (1 Peter 5:3).
James Edwards comments on this verse,
Thus, to fail in being a servant is not simply to fall short of an ideal condition but to stand outside of an existing condition that corresponds to the kingdom of God.
The highest virtue in God’s kingdom is not power. It is not even freedom. The highest virtue in the kingdom of God is service. “Greatness belongs to the one who is not great.” Greatness belongs to the one who serves.
This is not about me, and it is not about you. It’s about Christ in us serving others through us. “Service is love made tangible.” Service is love in action.
The church does not exist for the benefit of the ministers and leaders. Pastors and congregational leaders exist for the sake of the people. The Christian leader is not above the congregation; he is part of it. “The congregation does not belong to him; rather he belongs to it.”
3. Why Jesus Came
Jesus has now told the disciples for the third time that he must die. Now, for the first time, he tells them why he must die.
Mark 10:45 ESV For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
First, Jesus came to serve. Those who follow Christ will not be driven by lust for power and authority. Rather, they will follow him to the cross, as Jesus explains: “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve…”
The Apostle Paul explains…
Philippians 2:5-8 NLT You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. 6 Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. 7 Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, 8 he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.
2 Corinthians 8:9 ESV For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.
Those who follow Christ will seek to serve.
Second, Jesus explains that he came to give his life as a ransom for man. He did not come to grab power. He came to give his life.
John 10:11 ESV I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
Romans 8:3-4 NLT The law of Moses was unable to save us because of the weakness of our sinful nature. So God did what the law could not do. He sent his own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have. And in that body God declared an end to sin’s control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins. 4 He did this so that the just requirement of the law would be fully satisfied for us, who no longer follow our sinful nature but instead follow the Spirit.
Jesus offered his life as the ransom price for all.
As God’s own delegate, and through his suffering, death, and resurrection, Jesus freely and obediently offers his life as a substitute in behalf of humanity. Jesus is supremely conscious of offering a payment to God that can be offered by no one else… The death of the Son of Man on behalf of “the many” is a sacrifice of obedience to God’s will, a full expression of his love, and a full satisfaction of God’s justice.
The Justice of God
God is a God of justice. As the Judge of all the earth, he cannot finally allow sin to go unpunished. There is a penalty for sin. A great price was paid for you to be set free from sin. God himself bore the penalty and paid the price for your freedom. Will you not walk with Him on the road to the cross?
 Stein, Robert H. (2008-11-01). Mark (Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament) (Kindle Locations 12427). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
 Stein, Robert H. (2008-11-01). Mark (Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament) (Kindle Locations 12427-12433). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
 Ford, Leighton. Transforming Leadership. 145.
 Garland, David E.. A Theology of Mark’s Gospel. Zondervan Publishing House: 2015, p. 424.
 Ford, Leighton. Transforming Leadership. 150.
 Op. cit.
 Garland, David E. quoting Lee-Pollard in A Theology of Mark’s Gospel. Zondervan Publishing House: 2015, p. 424
 Edwards Jr., James R. (2009-10-05). The Gospel according to Mark (Pillar New Testament Commentary) (Kindle Locations 5973-5974). Eerdmans Publishing Co – A. Kindle Edition.
 Edwards Jr., James R. (2009-10-05). Mark (Kindle Locations 5976-5981).
 Op. cit.
 Op. cit.
 Edwards Jr., James R. (2009-10-05). Mark (Kindle Locations 6008-6015).
See also “Gospel of Mark”: