Brothers James and John

35 Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to him. “Teacher,” they said, “we want you to do for us whatever we ask.”

36 “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked.

37 They replied, “Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory.”

38 “You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said. “Can you drink the cup I drink or be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with?”

39 “We can,” they answered.

Jesus said to them, “You will drink the cup I drink and be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with, 40 but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared.” Mark 10:35-40

James and John wanted the best seats in the house! Just after Jesus had taught them about eternal spiritual things, the brothers asked for their own place in heaven. It’s a pretty bold request, and tremendously selfish.

The time was getting short for the brothers to make a request like this. I mean, you have the Son of God standing before you, so why not ask? Why did they presuppose that they should take a rightful seat in glory? Perhaps they had an overinflated view of themselves. None of them had been battle tested and hardened.

As time went on, I suspect the brothers would be highly embarrassed that they even considered asking for a special place in glory.

As usual, Jesus was gracious about it. Jesus didn’t rebuke them for it, nor did He grant the request. He knew what they would be facing soon so He might have just been giving them a bit of slack.

Continue Reading Brothers James and John

Three Days Later He Will Rise

32 They were on their way up to Jerusalem, with Jesus leading the way, and the disciples were astonished, while those who followed were afraid. Again he took the Twelve aside and told them what was going to happen to him. 33 “We are going up to Jerusalem,” he said, “and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will hand him over to the Gentiles, 34 who will mock him and spit on him, flog him and kill him. Three days later he will rise.” Mark 10:32-34

Two groups of people had different reactions when they went to Jerusalem. Twelve disciples were astonished He was leading them there, while the rest were terrified. And then Jesus explained to His disciples for the third time what was about to go down. It was happening even as He spoke the words. Reality was setting in and there was no stopping it.

It’s hard to know if the other followers were afraid for Jesus or for themselves. Perhaps they too had an inkling of what was going to happen in Jerusalem so their alarm bells sounded.

It must been a surreal and sobering time for His disciples. Did they understand what it meant for them? Did they understand the baton was about to be passed on to them?

As I’ve said elsewhere in this book, they were getting it but it was slow. It was taking them time to process the reality.

Still, though, “three days later he will rise” must have been a complete puzzle to them.

“What then? What then, Jesus?” You can hear the wheels turning in their heads. No one’s done that before. You did it with Lazarus but now you’re saying it about yourself. How is it possible?

As you know, I like to put myself in the disciples’ shoes as best as I can to partially grasp the gravity of each situation. This one would have been no different. It was significantly more serious but no less puzzling for men trying to understand the Son of God.

As lights began clicking on in their heads, they more confident they’d become.

That’s the way it is with God’s grace and love as well. We don’t quite understand what He’s doing when he’s doing it, but often after the passage of time, lights begin to go off in our heads. Fortunately, the Word of God is full of riches that we merely need to mine.

Continue Reading Three Days Later He Will Rise

Rejoice Even More

28 Then Peter spoke up, “We have left everything to follow you!”

29 “Truly I tell you,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel 30 will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life. 31 But many who are first will be last, and the last first.” Mark 10:28-31

While the disciples seemingly bemoaned their present plight, Jesus let them know that there were certain rewards and hazards for their faithfulness and convictions. Of course it wouldn’t be easy. In fact, no one ever said it was. There’s a subtle teaching in the church that once you become a believer that your problems will disappear.

Experience has shown that’s when the troubles begin!

Now, you will have the Holy Spirit of God guiding you every step of the way, not to mention the Son of God interceding on your behalf, and who doesn’t want that kind of help in times of trouble?

Rejoice, Brothers and Sisters, that you have left everything to follow Christ. Rejoice even more of the rewards – and hazards – of this life in Christ.

Continue Reading Rejoice Even More

Nothing But Christ

26 The disciples were even more amazed, and said to each other, “Who then can be saved?”

27 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.” Mark 10:26-27

This is a continuation to the previous post. It enhances the idea that salvation clearly comes from God. What could we possibly do to earn it? What would we have to offer for such a wonderful gift? Well, of course, the answer is nothing.

But there are millions who believe they can do it. They believe that what they have to offer in the way of services is valuable and useful to God. They believe the good they’ve done outweighs the bad. It’s arrogant and laughable if you think about it.

Even as believers, though, we get into a trap of semi-believing this. We know our salvation is through faith in Christ alone but it certainly couldn’t hurt to do more works and help out wherever we can. What we have done, then, is to negate the sovereign work of Christ for salvation.

Christ alone means just that, Christ alone. No services. No works. No money. No good deeds. No good social justice or environmental works. Nothing but Christ.

Continue Reading Nothing But Christ

Christ Alone

23 Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!”

24 The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” Mark 10:23-25

Jesus’ point is clear here: rich man cannot buy their way into heaven. Now, they may be rich on earth and accept Christ, but they don’t get to heaven with their riches.

Contrast to that, the poor man also cannot get to heaven because of his poverty.

Nor do the famous get to heaven because they’re famous.

Nor do the middle class because they’re middle class.

Nor do the intellectuals because they think they’re smarter than everyone else.

Salvation is found in Jesus Christ and Jesus Christ alone.

Scripture couldn’t be clearer on this point. (John 14:6)

And I for one am thankful about that. What a variable standard it would be otherwise.

Continue Reading Christ Alone