HOUSMAIL HM#059 - CORONATION DAY IN "PARADISE".(Mark 10:35-45) 20 July 2000
When Jesus spoke of the Kingdom of God, there can be no doubt at all that He was referring to the establishment of the Kingdom described by the Old Testament prophets. This is to happen when Jesus returns from Heaven, raises the dead, judges the world, and grants immortality to the righteous.
However we should not fail to notice that, essential as it is to BELIEVE the Good News about this future Kingdom, the message of Jesus is FAR MORE concerned with the calling and training of a PEOPLE who will be ready to inherit and inhabit the Kingdom, when it is established!
Thus it soon becomes obvious that on a number of occasions Jesus spoke of an altogether different aspect of the Kingdom, in which we shall miss His meaning completely, if we try to relate His words only to the future.
Mark 10:35-45, is one of those occasions.
It appears that there was a certain amount of tension between the apostles, arising from jealousy over who was to get the "top jobs" in the Kingdom!
These "political ambitions" led to a premature attempt by James and John to steal a march on the "competition", and secure the two most important positions for themselves. Matthew tells us that they even enlisted their mother to help them! Mark tells us that when the other ten heard about this attempt to forestall their own identical "political ambitions", they were indignant. Luke tells us that the ensuing argument about who was to be regarded as the greatest, was still going on at the Last Supper!
(Those of us who have spent time with those near the top of the "corporate ladder" in "big business", or dealing first hand with politicians, know what was going on! Come to think of it, if our eyes are open, we see exactly the same thing happening in a lot of CHURCHES today! Don't we?)
John's version of it leaves out the details of the dispute, but tells us that Jesus reinforced His lesson about "spiritual leadership" by laying aside his own "authority", in order to take upon Himself the role of a slave and wash the disciple's feet. There will be no dictators, or despots, or autocrats, in the Kingdom of God. Only those who know the true meaning of humble service are qualified to exercise leadership there.
"The Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many".
In any case, James and John had got it all WRONG when they asked for those two places in "glory"!
There can be no doubt THEY were referring to their own mistaken and carnal perception of the "glory" of the future earthly Kingdom.
But there should be even less doubt that the answer from Jesus points us, NOT to the future, but to the CRUCIFIXION! "Are you able to drink the cup that I drink?"
WHAT CUP? For the answer to that, refer to Psalm 116:13; Mark 14:36.
"Are you able to be baptised with the baptism with which I am baptised?"
WHAT BAPTISM? For the answer to that, refer to Luke 12:50.
WHAT GLORY? There can be little doubt that the cross was what Jesus had in mind when He prayed that prayer of surrender to His Father, to receive the glory which had been the plan of God for Him since "before the world was made". (John 17:5)
HOW DID JESUS BECOME THE "GREATEST" AMONGST US? HOW DID JESUS BECOME
"FIRST OF ALL" AMONGST US? HOW WAS JESUS "GLORIFIED"?
The answer is that Jesus became all of that by going to the cross to "drink the cup of salvation"; and by undergoing a "baptism" of suffering and death and burial and resurrection, for our redemption. (Romans 6:3-4)
When James and John spoke of "Glory", THEY were looking for pomp and ceremony, and power to lord it over others. They sought only the fulfillment of CARNAL ambition.
But when Jesus replied, He turned the discussion to the "here and now" of THE CROSS. HE meant the events of that rapidly approaching day in Jerusalem, when although they certainly would not understand what they did, the representatives of ROME would publicly declare HIM to be King of the Jews!
Think about it! Matthew tells us that:
Who else could it be, but those two thieves for whom their places had been reserved long ago, when Isaiah wrote - "They made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death." (Isaiah 3:9)
If we will receive it, there is a deeply spiritual sense in which the events at Golgotha were the FIRST DAY of PARADISE! In the same deeply spiritual sense, for Jesus, it was the beginning of His Kingdom, which established for all time, His right to rule.
James and John didn't understand, until after His resurrection, what Jesus was trying to tell them. May it not be so with us. May we all be quicker to set aside all carnal lust for power and prestige. May we instead learn the lessons of the true humility and service that Mark has preserved for us, to help us prepare for our inheritance in the future kingdom!
And may we reaffirm those lessons with LOVE and GRATITUDE, when in our own "here and now", we humble ourselves to bow OUR knee to Jesus and confess that He is OUR LORD, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:10-11)