10:32 And they were on the road, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking ahead of them. And they were amazed, and those who followed were afraid. And taking the twelve again, he began to tell them what was to happen to him,33 saying, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death and deliver him over to the Gentiles. 34 And they will mock him and spit on him, and flog him and kill him. And after three days he will rise.”
35 And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came up to him and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” 36 And he said to them, “What do you want me to do for you?” 37 And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.” 38 Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?”39 And they said to him, “We are able.” And Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you will drink, and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized, 40 but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.” 41 And when the ten heard it, they began to be indignant at James and John. 42 And Jesus called them to him and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. 43 But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. 45 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:32-45)
In the Name + of Jesus. AMEN. Who dares to press on to his own death? Jesus does. The disciples hold back. They are afraid. Amazed by Him, but still afraid. Twelve disciples, twelve tribes of Israel. He who leads the twelve is the Lord of Israel. Just as He was present in the bright cloud, led Israel to the Promised Land, and entered by way of Jericho, He leads them still. That is where Bartimaeus is given his sight. “Blind Bartimaeus” sees what the Twelve failed to see.
Jesus told the Twelve, “Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered to the chief priests, and to the scribes, and they will condemn Him to death, and will deliver Him to the Gentiles” (Mark 10:33). The Twelve did not get it. They did not see. What blinded them was their lust for power and the fear that they might lose out or lose their lives. First John and James, then the others. They were all angry and annoyed that they might only get third place or fourth place or even – God forbid – twelfth place. The bottom spot. They were looking to get the top spots. “One on Your right hand, and the other on Your left, in Your glory” (Mark 10:37). The brothers, John and James, just wanted to keep it in the family. The fight for who gets the best spot can wait until later, so long as one of them gets it. When we see this going on today – showing favor to relatives and family, influence-peddling, heads rolling, you scratch my back and I will scratch yours, wrestling with each other for the power spots in our church, buying and selling church offices, pastors selling themselves to the church that makes the highest bid, and churches who excuse the absence of a pastor because of the financial burden, it makes us want to puke in disgust.
Jesus did not puke. He continues on His way to Jerusalem. And He draws you along with Him, which means leaving all the putrid and enslaving stuff behind. Listen to how gentle Jesus is with His disciples: “You don’t know what you are asking,” He tells the brothers. The place is at His right hand and at His left. We know who gets those places when Jesus is crowned, declared King, and enthroned, as John says. Those at His right and at His left are those who are crucified with Him. All three of them are numbered among the transgressors. Three sinners nailed to crosses. Three criminals executed.
One of the criminals who hung next to Jesus mocked Him: “If you are the Savior, save Yourself and us” (Luke 23:39). The other man scolded him, saying, “We deserve to die for our crimes, but this man has not done anything wrong” (Luke 23:41). The just for the unjust. Jesus is judged as the one who bears the wickedness of us all. He drinks the cup of God’s wrath on sin, before which He shuddered on Gethsemane: “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will” (Mark 14:36). It was God’s desire to bruise Him. He put Him to grief when he made Himself an offering for sin.
“Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18). That’s Peter, preaching in his first letter. In Gethsemane, Peter slept “because his eyes were heavy.” At Caesarea Philippi, Peter spoke for Satan. Peter did not want a crucified Savior. In today’s Gospel he is angry and annoyed with James and John for trying to get in first for the top spots. Jesus has a long way to pull them when He, walking ahead, goes up to Jerusalem. There is death for them in this way.
At His baptism, Jesus speaks about the cup He must drink. His death that is his to do. He then passes the cup to you. “Yes,” says Jesus, “when yours are the cup and the Baptism, you will no longer carry on like those who are not Mine. Those who are not Mine think they are great by how many people they can push around, get on top of, lording it over them, laying it on them from above, great by how many people you can make serve you.” That is not where Jesus does His thing. Jesus is at the bottom. Find the lowest spot and you will find Him. He is baked into one loaf with all sinners. All the sins you are slave to, He is slave to, judged, and damned.
Jesus spoke about it as giving His life as a ransom for many. Ransomer is Redeemer. The price is His life. For many, as in Isaiah 53, Jesus speaks His disciples into that many, as He does when He gives you His body to eat and His blood to drink. Into your mouths this morning He speaks you into that many. His blood is shed for many for the forgiveness of sins.
Our Liturgy follows Luke at this point and says, “FOR YOU.” The phrase “FOR YOU” creates faith. “Amen,” you say, as Jesus gives into you His body and His blood. Those to whom our Lord gives His body and His blood can pray, “Vindicate me, O God.” If God tosses you out of here, He is tossing out the body and the blood of His Son — and He cannot do that.
God did the judgment on you when He did the judgment for your sins on Jesus. That death for your sin was given you. It is yours at your Baptism. His cup, His baptism — yours. There was a putting of you to death in your Baptism by words and water and a new “you” was born. A you no longer slave to sin. “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). It is not some dead, unmoving stuff that the Lord gives into your mouth this morning. As He forgives and enlivens you with His body and His blood, His body and His blood are alive in you in the same way as when He spoke of them as the ransom for many, FOR YOU, not to be served but to serve. AMEN.