C O U R S E L E C T U R E
Discipleship as Service to Others
Notes taken on June 21, 2017 by Edward Tanguay
disciples were concerned with the worry that others might be doing good in Jesus' name
but the power of Jesus cannot be reduced to a narrow circle
Jesus' teaching does not apply only to a set of righteous people set off from the idea of the unwashed masses
but as Jesus says, anyone who gives water to the thirsty will gain the reward which is their due
"And they were on the way going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus went before them, and they were amazed, and as they followed, they were afraid. And He took again the twelve, and began to tell them what things would happen unto Him, saying, "Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man shall be delivered unto the chief priests and unto the scribes, and they shall condemn Him to death, and shall deliver Him to the Gentiles. And they shall mock Him and shall scourge Him, and shall spit upon Him and shall kill Him. And the third day He shall rise again."
we have a three-fold scheme
1. prediction of the passion
3. Jesus concluding with a teaching about discipleship
bringing together the questions, who is Jesus, and who is the Church?
disciples then do not understand who Jesus is or who they are
"And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came unto Him, saying, "Master, we would that Thou should do for us whatsoever we shall desire." And He said unto them, "What would ye that I should do for you?" 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."
James and John were seeking glory
Jesus continues, Mark 10:38-41
"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?" 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 with, also shall ye be baptized. 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. And when the ten heard it, they began to be indignant at James and John."
We can understand the context of this request by documents found among the scrolls at the Dead Sea.
discovered in the 20th century
describe a Jewish sect which lived at the time of Jesus
was also expecting the imminent arrival of the kingdom of God
the Dead Sea community also looked forward to God's immanent intervention on their behalf in which those who, in their estimation, had remained faithful to the God of Israel would be vindicated on earth and would be invited to a glorious and eternal existence with the angels in the heavenly court
according to the Messianic Rule, their meals and community meetings were structured so as to reflect how things would be at the messianic banquet in the kingdom of God
the priest comes first, then the messiah of Israel, the heads of thousands, and the heads of the congregations clans in a descending order of status
rank and honor are important factors
this informs the concerns of James and John
when the kingdom came there would be a grand banquet, and where one was seated was a matter of importance
in a society of honor, Jesus' disciples want to know where they stand and what place they could expect in the coming kingdom
but Jesus' response to the request of James and John shows how badly they have erred
for greatness in the kingdom of God depends on service to others
Jesus' response is also ironic
he asks if they can drink the cup that he drinks, or be baptized with his baptism
they reply that they are able
yet the James and John imagine the cup and baptism to refer to items in their future glory
but for Jesus, the cup and baptism refer to the path he is taking, a path whose first step will be at the cross
there will be glory, but it is predicated on dying first on behalf of others
this is the same sentiment that Joseph expresses at the close of the Joseph narrative
having suffered terribly as the chosen son of his father and god
selection to glory was really about service to his brothers
James and John clearly lack this crucial insight