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January 31, 2021 12:01 am
No sooner did Jesus speak of His impending death than two of His disciples requested positions of greatness in His kingdom. Today, R.C. Sproul continues his series in the gospel of Mark to remind us what true greatness looks like for those who follow the suffering Savior.
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Ungodly rulers have something in common. All I want to do is rule and exercise power and exercise authority. There's no humility.
There is no willingness to serve, but shall not be among you Jesus say that may be the way of the world, but I am not gonna put up with it in my house and with my followers when the disciples started following in the footsteps of worldly leaders. Jesus didn't mince words. It's easy for us to think of those foolish disciples. But as we listen to Dr. RC Sproul today on Renewing Your Mind. We will see that is so easy to fall into the same trap will get started today in Mark chapter 10 verse 32 sermon titled kingdom climbers. Now they were on the road going up to Jerusalem, I always spoke going up to Jerusalem, whether they were going south or north because of its elevation, but in any case, we have this detail that Jesus was going before them and they were amazed while that amazed after all Jesus was a rabbi and we've seen in the past.
In our study of Mark that it was the custom of the students of rabbis in that day to walk behind the rabbi as he would teach orally, and they would listen and remember his teachings through memorization and that was the way of the peripatetic teacher who walked round about, as he instructed his disciples want to be amazed that Jesus went ahead of them. I think the reason for that detail that Mark gives us here is that what amazed them was the resolute determination that they saw in Jesus to go to his destiny.
His face was set like a flint, and he knew that he was called to give himself over to his enemies there in Jerusalem and he had been teaching his disciples that on more than one occasion, and now as they set out for that point of destiny. Jesus does not linger, he moves quickly, keeping pace ahead of his disciples going to his death.
With a firm step they could get over it. Most of us if we knew we were going to our deaths would be in the survival shuffle dragging our feet, reluctant with every step that we took to advance any further in such a journey, but not Jesus. He was prepared to obey the father and so he led them in as they followed in their fear. He took them aside and began to tell them the things that would happen to him. Now this almost sounds like just bear repetition because we've heard this before.
This is the third time now in Mark's gospel that Jesus tells his disciples what will await him in Jerusalem, but the difference of this third time from the other two is that it's much more specific. Before the spoke generally about being betrayed and being delivered unto death, but now he gets specific.
In fact, he so specific about what will occur in Jerusalem that the liberal critics who tear apart the pages of the New Testament are clear that this must obviously be what they call about a sodium X event you. That is an account that was written after the fact.
They are so allergic to anything supernatural, and so opposed to any idea of predictive prophecy that they assume a certain fraud in the writing of the gospel by St. Mark that despite the fact that many of the prophecies that are recorded in these Gospels are not taking place until years after Jesus dies, and even after the gospel was written, but nevermind they are so and aesthetically opposed to the gospel that they say. While the details here are so accurate that Jesus couldn't possibly have known them while there are several ways he could have known. In the first instance, if he knew that he was going to be taken to Jerusalem and betrayed into the hands of his enemies. He knew what the way of execution would be. Being familiar with the Roman system. Not only that Jesus was not just a student of the Old Testament Scriptures. He was the actual subject of the Old Testament Scriptures, that he was aware intimately of Psalm 22, which he quoted on the cross and also aware of all of those passages in the latter portion of the prophet Isaiah, particularly Isaiah 50 and Isaiah 53 it which reads almost like an eyewitness account of the crucifixion, but remember that the Jews did not associate the suffering servant passages of Isaiah in the Old Testament with their hope of the coming Messiah. But Jesus knew that those texts applied to him.
So even without any direct revelation from the father, he would know that he would be treated with scorn that he would be scourged that he would be spat upon, but perhaps most important in this text is his announcement on this occasion that he would be delivered into the hands of the Gentiles. Let's look at that for just a second, where he says behold we're going up to Jerusalem and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and to the scribes. The first betrayal will be when Jesus is delivered into the hands of his enemies among the Jewish hierarchy to the chief priests and to the scribes and then he goes on and they will condemn him to death and deliver him to the Gentiles. And that's exactly what happened.
First, Jesus was taken to the Jewish authorities, who then because they didn't have the authority to set a death sentence under Roman occupation. They in turn delivered him to Pilate. So Jesus understood that and what was significant about this was that in the Old Testament in the whole structure of sacrifice we recall that on the day of atonement. Not only was the animal killed whose blood was spread upon the mercy seat in the holy of holies for atonement but also the sins of the people were symbolically transferred to the back of the scapegoat and the scapegoat was then driven out into the wilderness outside the camp out into the outer darkness. And that's what it would mean to the Jew to be delivered to the Gentiles to be placed in the hands of the Gentiles would be to be sent outside the covenant community outside the camp outside where the presence of God was concentrated and focused and so the disciples would be cast when Jesus would say that you betray me. The Son of Man, not only to the scribes and the chief priests, but they in turn will deliver me to the Gentiles.
They will mock him, scourged him, spit upon him and kill him, and on the third day he will rise again so as I mentioned, this is the third time that Jesus has delivered to the disciples. What Luther would later call the tail, okay, yeah, process the theology of the cross, which is the theology of the New Testament which is the theology of Jesus himself. It is the theology of the apostle Paul who says I know nothing except Christ and him crucified a Christian religion without the cross is not Christianity, but no sooner does Jesus give this message for the third time so emphatically about the theology of the cross with two of his inner circle come up to him with the tail of your Gloria with the theology of glory. Even still, they're not getting the message and even still there hanging around waiting for Jesus to assert his kingly reign to bring in the kingdom of God with all of its glory and that they may not only participate in it, but that they may have a high position in it, listen to them. Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, the Sons of thunder came in saying teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask this of the origin of that terrible theology that we call name and claimant were we look at God as a celestial bellhop who is there to fill our orders and we tell them whatever we want and we don't just expect that he will do it but we demand that he will do it. This is the way these two disciples come to Jesus what we want you to do whatever we ask you to do.
Every little bit like that sometime. Gimme gimme gimme gimme gimme Lord. Here's what we want. Please do this please do that.
Please give me this, please give me that what they're asking for here is something extraordinary. Let's contend treasonable.
What is it you want me to do for you and they said to him, grant us that we may sit, one on your right hand and the other on your left in your glory for asking Jesus is that when you come into your kingdom. When you are enthroned as the King of the kings choose one of us will humbly allow you to make the selection which one but choose one of us to sit at your right hand, which is the penultimate place of authority in a kingdom, and the other to sit on your left hand, which is the next highest run on the political ladder what they wanted from Jesus was status what they wanted for Jesus was to be placed in a position of power that happens in every organization, and it happens in the first church of Christ and his disciples. Two of them want to be exalted over everybody else. All are asking Jesus to let me sit at your right hand and my brother at your left-hand fact you pick which one goes where Jesus looks at these disciples that he loves shaking his head and he sent you guys have no idea what you're ask you have a clue what it means to sit in the chair that I sit you don't know what the burden of my leadership is and then he uses to famous metaphors from Scripture to explain this to them when he says, are you able to drink the cup that I drink this is before Gethsemane. This is before they watch him in his agony begging the father to let that cup pass from him. But Jesus knew that cup was waiting for him in Jerusalem and in the Old Testament's language of the prophets drinking the cup meant drinking the dregs of the wrath of God's judgment and the supreme judgment of God is filling the cup the Jesus will drink and he says them.
You will be in my right hand you want to be my left and you want to share in my glory. There is no detail of your Gloria without first the tail of your cruises. There is no glory without the cross, and you can't come where I am going unless you can drink the cup that I have to drink can you be baptized with the baptism with which I am not talking about the baptism of John on the river Jordan he's talking about being flooded of being buried of being in undated in the fury of God's wrath suffocated by the father's judgment.
Are you prepared to do that you prepared to take that. He says to them must know what they say we are able, piece of cake past the cup were ready to use the relevant certain sense there to get more that cup than you know and you will participate in my baptism, no one of us. Thank God has ever been asked by God to drink the cup that Jesus drank, or to be baptized with the baptism that Jesus was baptized with however we have been called to identify with that cup and to identify with that baptism and even our water baptism which is the sign of the new covenant which signifies many things among which is included the signification that we are united with Christ in his death and his resurrection life told you on many occasion.
The apostle Paul repeatedly says, unless you're willing to identify with Jesus and his disgrace in his humiliation.
You will never participate in his exultation and in his glory but he promised to all who are his, that those who identify with him in his suffering that they will indeed participate with him in his glory that is the Christian hope that he is prepared a place he says not, James, John, besides the fact that you can't drink the cup that I have to drink besides the fact that you get baptized with the baptism with which I baptized. You also have to understand that it's not mine to give the father will determine who will sit at my right hand and who will sit at my left hand and besides that, if you're asking for that appointment today. You're too late that was settled in eternity. It is for those for whom it is prepared when the 10 heard it. Sometimes I love the understatement of sacred Scripture and when the 10 heard, they began to be greatly displeased with James and Scott.
You bet they were greatly displeased. What did they ask you who they think they are. This was great teamwork here among the disciples of Jesus uses this occasion to teach them a lesson that we need to learn call them to himself and said we understand that those who are considered rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. What is he do this you know, I hope you noticed the time after time after time when I'm preaching at St. Andrews I set before you, a stark contrast between the way of the secular culture in which we live in the way we are called to behave by the word of God. Why do I do that because I understand that we are bombarded every day with influences of what we are expected to do and how were expected to behave by a pagan society and it eats away at sit if it breaks down our resolve. That's what we have to keep coming back to the word of God for our marching orders. We don't get them from the culture and what Jesus is saying to his disciples the same thing you say you fellas think that leadership is like the pagan Gentiles have where those who are in authority lorded over all of their subordinates. They don't feel any sense of responsibility. There is no abilities. No glass in the mentality of the Gentile pagans. All they want to do is rule in exercise power and exercise authority.
There's no humility. There is no willingness to serve, but shall not be among you Jesus say that may be the way of the world, but I'm not gonna put up with it in my house and with my followers.
It shall not be that way among you, dear Lord, while those guys are crawling in the sand by now because Jesus really hammers like this text.
I like the Gentile way is he says whoever desires to be great among you shall be your servant going be great, yet small unit exalted the gotta be based you want to rule you have to serve that's the ethic of Jesus. And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all.
Finally come to the last verse, and here's where my guilt overwhelms me, because this last verse is worthy of several sermons for even the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life a ransom for many.
Pay attention to that first because you know we look at the life of Jesus we been following it here in Mark's portrait of him in the times we scratch our heads and we wonder why Jesus says what he says why he does what he does on a given occasion. What makes them tick. What is he about anytime Jesus gives you the reason for what he does, we need to listen carefully, and now he's telling us why he came. You know I'm going to Jerusalem you want to know I was born in Bethlehem you want to know. I went to the Jordan River to get baptized by John Aydin come to be served. I came to serve and I didn't come to have my life taken away from me by ruthless thugs in Jerusalem came to give it. Nobody takes it from me.
I let down and I give it as a ransom for many.
Jesus understands his death in terms of the concept of ransom in the early church. One of the terrible distortions of the early church was the theory that was called the ransom theory of the atonement which came to the conclusion on the basis of this tax that what Jesus did when he was crucified when he made an atonement was that he was making a payment to the devil like we might make a ransom payment to a kidnapper wise. That will because the Bible says that the devil is the Prince and part of the year that he holds us in captivity. And so Jesus pays this price to the devil so that the devil will set us free. No no no no, Jesus doesn't pay ransom to Satan. He crushes Satan's head. Ransom is paid to the father when Christ gives himself as a propitiation to satisfy the demands of God's justice just as the kinsman redeemer in the Old Testament would ransom one of his relatives who was in indentured servitude by paying what the relative owed to the master he would purchase his freedom. So Christ purchases his bride with his blood toward the apostle says you're not your own. You were bought and paid for with the highest price ever paid for anything by the blood of Christ, you were bought and you were purchased and you will redeem.
That's what redemption is because the father has been paid and we who were debtors who cannot pay our debt or never again required to pay that that because it is been paid for us by the suffering servant of his.
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. When a convicting message. It is so easy to fall into that trap to seek positions of power and influence for our own fame and honor Dr. RC Sproul is helped us think through this important issue today on Renewing Your Mind from a biblical perspective. Each Sunday we continue this verse by verse look at Mark's gospel and I were glad you joined us for today's message. This is an ongoing study and as you join us each week.
I think our resource offer would be a great help to which Dr. scrolls commentary on the Gospel of Mark.
You'll find easy to read explanations of every verse in this nearly 400 page hardbound volume. You can go online and request it with your gift of any amount our web address is Renewing Your Mind.Ward an article in later ministries monthly magazine table talk. It examines the request James and John made of Jesus. It's titled true greatness. You can find it when you go to table talk magazine.com and when use that search block, you'll find nearly 30 articles on this topic as you deepen your study of Scripture, we hope that you'll use the thousands of articles available to you online there and you can begin your subscription when you go to table talk magazine.com Jesus had some strong words for the Sons of thunder. Today, recommending them for their pursuit of power.
Next week Jesus will teach further on the subject. Join us for the message titled Son of Man a servant. I hope you make plans to join us again next Sunday for Renewing Your Mind