Summary: It’s an adventure. It’s a good-thing! It’s a joy-to-follow Jesus because so-long-as you’re following Him, …that-just-means that you’re close to His heart and He’s close to yours! And isn’t that exactly-where we wanna be!?!
Walkin’ with Jesus:
Swimmin’ in the Baptistery
Scripture Text: Mark 10.35-45
We need the “meat” of the gospel. We need the stuff that’ll sustain and prepare-us for the long-journey of following Jesus. And that’s-why He teaches James-and-John ~ …and the rest of us, …His followers ~ …that servanthood is a critical-element in being one of His disciples. Being a servant is at the heart of what it means to follow Jesus.
I. A Cup & A Baptism
James and John were asking more-than simply to sit next to Jesus at the dinner-table. They were asking for the seats of honor. The seats of power and privilege. They wanted Jesus to do this for them: to let them be the most-important people in Jesus’ kingdom. I think they still had visions of sugar-plums dancing in their heads! They thought that Jesus was gonna waltz into Jerusalem, …take His rightful place on the throne of Israel, …kick-out the rotten-scoundrels, …and make everything o.k.
But, Jesus knew that the path He was called to walk-down was not-gonna-be a walk-in-the-park. And He had been-tryin’ to-give the disciples a ‘heads-up’ ~ …that, what-was-waiting-for-Him in Jerusalem was rejection and betrayal, suffering and death. You-remember, don’t-you, …that at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, …that He was baptized, …and immediately, He found himself in the desert being sorely-tempted by Satan for 40 days?
And in just-a-few-short-days, …Jesus will be in the Garden of Gethsemane ~ …only-a-few-short-hours before the soldiers come to arrest Him; …and in the Garden He prays, “Father, if it be your will, please take this cup from me!”
The story of Jesus’ life-and-ministry are quickly moving toward Golgatha and the Cross. The baptism that marked the beginning of His ministry, …and the dark-night in the Garden, just-before being carried away in police-custody ~ …Jesus knew that it was not going to be an easy row-to-hoe! But, the disciples were a little slow to catch-on.
James and John ask if they can be on His “right” and “left”. And-what comes to my mind is: “Are you guys ready hang on the crosses next to Jesus!?!” Jesus is headed to Jerusalem ~ …but a throne doesn’t wait for Him, there! It’s a Cross! And there will be two people by His side, …but they will be convicted criminals. And they won’t be sitting-and-soaking in the fan-fare and adoration of the people, …but they will be mocked and ridiculed and humiliated as they die a slow, painful death.
James and John ask if they can be on Jesus’ “right” and on His “left” ~ …but I don’t think they quite-understand what that means!
You catch-a-glimpse of Jesus’ incredible patience, in His response to James-and-John’s outlandish request. We might expect Him to say something-like: …”Have you guys been listening to anything-I’ve-been-saying for the last 6 months!?! “How long will it take you fellas to get it!?!
But-instead, He asks: “Can you drink the cup I drink or be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with?”
He was asking James and John whether they are ready to follow Him into the experience of serving the kingdom of God ~ …seeking God’s will, …doing the work of God, …sometimes, setting-aside your own plans-or-fears, dreams-or-uncertainties.
The funny-thing-is that James and John are told that they will drink the ‘cup’ and be ‘baptized’ with Jesus’ baptism. They will follow in Jesus’ footsteps; …they will give-their-lives to the call-of-God to live-like-servants of the Kingdom of God. Now, this doesn’t-necessarily-mean that they will be crucified, just-like-Jesus-was. In-fact, James was beheaded; …and John lived to a ripe old age of around 90 ~ …though he nearly died a martyr’s death several times: …including-once, when he was dropped into a pot of boiling oil! He survived that and continued to live as a powerful-witness to the love-of-God and the power-of the Kingdom. The ‘cup’ and the ‘baptism’ that Jesus refers to are the calling-of-God to lay-it-all-on-the-line for the sake of our Lord God. His will is our supreme desire. His calling is our path. His ways become our ways. His example of living-for-others and not-for-our-own selfish reasons ~ …”Can you drink the cup that Jesus drank and be baptized with the baptism that Jesus was baptized with?”
I’m pretty-sure-that James and John are thinking about the kingdom of heaven in a worldly way. They think that seats of honor and power are-also places of privilege. But Jesus teaches that things in the kingdom of heaven are topsy-turv! Power is expressed in servanthood. Honor is received through humility. To be “privileged” means that we’ve-been-included in the plans-and-the-work of God!
And-so, I was thinking about different people who have been great servants. In politics we hear politicians talk-a-lot-about “public service”. Whether most-modern-politicians have a servant-attitude or a selfish-attitude, I’m-not-gonna touch that-one! But, history has shown George Washington was a great leader and a great president. But-recently I’ve learned that he did-not-want the mantle of presidential leadership. He wanted to quietly retire to Mt. Vernon, after the dust-had-settled from the Revolutionary War. But, he accepted the call to be our nation’s first president as a way to serve the people and our newly-found-nation.