So, the video doesn’t show right in the draft and edit mode, I tried to preview to see if you could see the appropriate opening screen…no can do. So, I’m flying blind today, folks. I hope this works and that God speaks to you as you go through this.
35. And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, come unto him, saying, Master, we would that thou shouldest do for us whatsoever we shall desire. 36. And he said unto them, What would ye that I should do for you?
As we look at these next few verses, it’s important to remember that Jesus has just told them about His upcoming crucifixion and resurrection. Perhaps this question was asked in light of the promised resurrection, but I doubt it. I believe that James and John heard what Jesus said, but refused to acknowledge His words. Were we to include the thoughts behind the words, and, again, this is my speculation, it would sound something like, “Sure Jesus, not going to happen. We know what’s really going on and we want you to do whatever we ask.” Notice the wisdom in Jesus’s response. Most of us, when someone asks for a favor respond with “Sure, what do you want?” Jesus answered by asking, “And what is it you want?” He refused to commit Himself until He knew the question. We would do well to respond in a similar manner. When we don’t, we’re either locked into an action we don’t want, or we’re pressured into doing something we don’t necessarily want to do. The rule to remember is clarify expectations before committing to action.
37. They said unto him, Grant unto us that we may sit, one on thy right hand, and the other on thy left hand, in thy glory. 38. But Jesus said unto them, Ye know not what ye ask: can ye drink of the cup that I drink of? and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? 39. And they said unto him, We can. And Jesus said unto them, Ye shall indeed drink of the cup that I drink of; and with the baptism that I am baptized withal shall ye be baptized: 40. But to sit on my right hand and on my left hand is not mine to give; but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared.
James and John didn’t know what they were asking for. They thought they were asking for the two favored seats of power when Jesus, as Messiah kicked the Romans out of Israel and became King of Israel. They still thought the glory of Jesus was to be found as king of a small backwater country. Jesus knew that they didn’t know what they were asking for and that the decision was out of His hands. James and John saw these places as seats of glory, in truth, the earthly seats on the right and left hand of Jesus in His glory were actually occupied by the two thieves who were crucified with Jesus. As to Jesus’s heavenly realm, we have no earthly idea who will be in those seats, if those seats even exist. Jesus seemed to set standards for those who might occupy those seats: drinking the cup He drank and being baptized like He was. Remember that this is the cup that Jesus prayed about in the Garden of Gethsemane. He prayed for it to be taken away, but it wasn’t. His “baptism” for this answer was His death on the cross. Jesus knew that He would experience the cup of God’s wrath and the cruel death on the cross, James and John had no idea what was coming for Jesus when they let Him know that of course they could endure His cup and baptism. As we read the words that tell James and John that they would endure that cup and that baptism, it should remind those of us who follow Jesus shouldn’t expect an easy life, but that in the midst of dealing with the evil of this world our hope is in Jesus Christ.
41. And when the ten heard it, they began to be much displeased with James and John.
The other ten weren’t happy with James and John. I wonder if they were displeased because they hadn’t thought to ask Jesus for those honors earlier. From the outside, it looks like they were just unhappy with James and John trying to influence Jesus by asking that question. I think their inner thoughts were displeased that James and John had asked for the seats that they felt like they deserved.
42, But Jesus called them to him, and saith unto them, Ye know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon them. 43. But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister: 44. And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all.
Jesus understood that the indignation of the other ten disciples dealt more with their thirst for honor and power than with concern for the sake of the kingdom, and He gave them an example they could understand from real life. When Jesus talked about the Gentiles here, I have no doubt that He and the disciples knew He was talking about the Romans who exercised their power according to their position on the political pecking order. It seems to be the same today, whether it be found in politics, business, or any other social organization – and I would include the church in that description. Those higher up will exercise their authority, and the power flows down with people exercising as much power as their position allows to show how important they are. Those who would go beyond the bounds of their power often run into problems with their “superiors.” Jesus taught them to stop thinking about and playing those power games, instead, those who want to be great in God’s Kingdom will find ways to serve others. Those who want the positions of power in God’s kingdom will only get them as they recognize that they’re called to serve. True power is found in God’s Kingdom when we forget about power and find ways to serve others.
45. For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.
Jesus finished this teaching by giving them the example of His own life. They knew that He was the Messiah, although they had different expectations of Jesus once He owned that title than He exhibited. He pointed out that His ministry, His service showed His power and that His coming death would free people from their sins.
46. And they came to Jericho: and as he went out of Jericho with his disciples and a great number of people, blind Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, sat by the highway side begging. 47. And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out, and say, Jesus, thou son of David, have mercy on me.
As Jesus continued His journey, He left Jericho. On the road out of town, He and the crowd that followed Him ran into Bartimaeus who was begging by the side of the road. Bartimaeus was blind and begging was an honorable profession for those with disabilities back in those days. It gave the Jews a chance to give alms and thus practice their religious beliefs. When Bartimaeus heart that Jesus was walking by, he made the decision to call out and get His attention. He cried out for mercy, which could have many different meanings to someone begging.
48. And many charged him that he should hold his peace: but he cried the more a great deal, Thou son of David, have mercy on me.
The crowd reacted by telling him to shut up and stop making a fool of himself. I imagine they tried to remind him that Jesus was a busy person and He wouldn’t have time to talk to a blind beggar by the side of the road. Bartimaeus wouldn’t be dissuaded from his goal of seeking an encounter with Jesus, no matter how disgusted the crowd might be. He shouted louder.
49. And Jesus stood still, and commanded him to be called. And they call the blind man, saying unto him, Be of good comfort, rise; he calleth thee. 50. And he, casting away his garment, rose, and came to Jesus.
Jesus heard the calls of Bartimaeus and, echoing His previous words to the disciples about serving all people, stopped and called for the people to get Bartimaeus to come to Him. In one of the greatest reversals of mob behavior in history, they stopped telling Bartimaeus to shut up and urged Him to go to Jesus. Bartimaeus didn’t waste any time. He threw off his garment and rushed to see Jesus.
51. And Jesus answered and said unto him, What wilt thou that I should do unto thee? The blind man said unto him, Lord, that I might receive my sight. 52. And Jesus said unto him, Go thy way; thy faith hath made thee whole. And immediately he received his sight, and followed Jesus in the way.
Jesus’s response might seem familiar: “What do you want me to do?” In other words, Jesus was asking Him what this mercy that he was calling for looked like. Did he want a blessing, a prayer, money, food, or what? Bartimaeus responded immediately – he wanted to be able to see. He wanted to be able to see the beauty of creation. He wanted to see his way around the town. He wanted to see his family. He wanted to become a useful member of society – which difficult for people with disabilities to become then. His wish was a statement of faith, knowing that Jesus could restore his sight. Jesus recognized and honored that faith by healing him. Jesus healed Bartimaeus who then followed Jesus in the way. I take this literally in that I think Bartimaeus walked with Jesus. It could mean, however, that he lived in the way that Jesus would teach people to live. Whatever the situation, Bartimaeus was a new person in Jesus Christ. This story reminds us that we need to reach out for Jesus, no matter what others around us do and we need to be specific in our requests. As you pray today and in days to come, seek God and ask Him specifically for what you want.