Monday 23 December 2013

Mark 10:32-52 - Greatest or least?

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It seems that despite all they have seen and been told in Mark 9 and the first part of 10, the disciples still struggle to grasp the idea of a back to front kingdom.

In Mark 10:32 there's a clear distinction between disciples, followers and the Twelve. The disciples are astonished and the followers are scared while the Twelve get extra information.

It seems that the bulk of the crowd (perhaps all of them) are followers. They tag along because they want healing for themselves or someone they know, they want to hear a great teacher, or they want to witness the healings and other miracles. They are hangers-on.

Disciples are more serious followers who believe what Jesus says and want to know more so that they can follow more fully and more closely. They are people who want to see and hear for the purpose of better following, not merely to see wonders.

And the Twelve are chosen, they're called to follow and they get additional teaching and guidance. They are apprentices.

Within the twelve we can distinguish three who are in the innermost circle - Peter, James and John. And perhaps we might even say that John, the 'disciple that Jesus loved' was closest of all.

Jesus tells the three closest to him that he is going to die in Jerusalem and that he will rise after three days.

How disappointing, then, that two of them (including John) ask to sit beside him in his glory! They still don't understand that in order to be great in the kingdom they must give up all status, all power, everything involving self or glory or privilege [Tweet it!]. Here is Jesus in his last few days of ministry, having just explained this very point in the immediately preceding days. And they still don't see it!

Having explained this critical fact again to all twelve they arrive in Jericho. And here Jesus heals Bar Timaeus of blindness. He has just told James and John that he cannot choose who will sit next to him. Now he shows that he will pour out healing on those with the faith for it. It's all about seeing. Bar Timaeus sees, but even at this late stage James and John do not.

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