November 1, 2010 David Balzer

Mark 10: 32- 45: Eyes wide shut

At the end of 1999, we went to Brisbane for five weeks. And Elyse was only about four months old.

When it was time to come home, we thought we’d try something different.

 

The trip UP had been pretty traumatic. Even though we’d broken it up, and taken it slow. The kids got fed-up pretty often – always asking “Are we there yet?” “Look Dad, only 50 kms to Maccas. Can we stop?” “Look Dad, only 40 km to Maccas. Can we stop?” And so on. And so WE got pretty fed up too. (I’m sure no-one’s had experiences like that?!)

 

And so instead of THAT, we thought we’d drive through the night, and do it in one go. Anything had to be better than the complaining and the arguments on the way up. I’d just point the car towards Sydney. And apart from petrol, a loo stop, and red lights, not take my foot of the accelerator until we got home.

 

And so we set off about 5pm. My eyes were fixed on Sydney. The Tarago was loaded to the roof. The kids were settled in for the night with pillows and blankets. We had plenty of strong coffee. Chewing gum. Biscuits, apples, chocolate. This trip wasn’t the time for looking at scenery, or worrying about beaches, or interesting side trips. Eyes on Sydney.

 

And the plan worked really well. The kids fell asleep just after Ballina, and Daniel and Elyse didn’t wake up until we pulled into the driveway.

 

And apart from my eyes nearly dropping out of my head, and nearly being blown off the road by semitrailers overtaking us at 130 km/h, it was quite fun.

 

We were on a journey, and our eyes were fixed on home.

 

1. Eyes on Jerusalem:

And Jesus is on a journey, too. And HIS eyes are fixed on JERUSALEM. He’s committed to getting there. Because he knows that Jerusalem is where it’s all going to happen. Where everything will finally come to a head. And the trouble that’s been brewing with the Pharisees for a while will finally spill over into violence.

 

And while Caron and I LONGED to get home. Jesus’ would rather be going ANYWHERE ELSE than Jerusalem. In the Garden of Gethsemane, he prayed that God would take the cup of suffering from him. He LONGED for there to be SOME OTHER WAY.

 

What’s the most courageous thing you’ve done?

 

I reckon there are two types of courage. Impulsive, spur of the moment courage. Like the man who pulls a car crash victim from the wreck – seconds before the petrol fumes explode. It’s an instinctive courage – almost a reflex action.

 

But there is also the courage from someone who sees some terrible thing approaching far ahead. Who has plenty of time to turn back, or find another way. But who keeps walking towards it. Steadfast and sure. It’s the sort of courage that Christians with a terminal illness often seem to possess. I reckon that sort of courage is far stronger.

 

And it’s this second sort of courage that Jesus had here. He knew what was coming. He’d been telling his disciples about it for weeks. He was walking to his DEATH. And every day he was getting closer.

 

Back in Ch 8. Verse 27 tells us that Jesus and the disciples were at Caesarea Philippi. That’s in the far north. 50 km north of the Sea of Galilee. Maybe 200 km from Jerusalem. And that’s where he first teaches the disciples about his death. Verse 31.

(Mark 8:31 NIV)  He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again.

 

But he keeps walking towards Jerusalem. Each step taking him closer. And in Ch 9 v 30, they’ve made it down to Galilee. And he teaches them again. And now he adds the detail about BETRAYAL.

(Mark 9:31 NIV)  He said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men. They will kill him, and after three days he will rise.”

 

And then, over into Ch 10, and Jesus is on the move again. Verse 32. “They were on the way up to Jerusalem, with Jesus leading the way.”

 

And in v33, he tells them, once again, where they’re going, and why. It’s the most graphic account yet.

(Mark 10:33-34 NIV)  “We are going up to Jerusalem,” he said, “and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will hand him over to the Gentiles, {34} who will mock him and spit on him, flog him and kill him. Three days later he will rise.”

 

Jesus knows every part. In all the gory details. But he still keeps walking.

 

And it’s no SECRET mission either. EVERYONE knows what’s going on. And they can’t understand why Jesus keeps heading to Jerusalem. Verse 32.

(Mark 10:32 NIV)  They were on their way up to Jerusalem, with Jesus leading the way, and the disciples were ASTONISHED, while those who followed were AFRAID.

 

They can’t understand it. They may not know EVERYTHING, but they know enough. If Jesus is talking about BEING KILLED, then it’s probably wise to steer clear of the bad guys! If the Pharisees have got it in for Jesus, it makes sense to get as far away from them as possible, right?

 

Head up into the hills, or perhaps lie low for a while, right? Wrong! Where does Jesus head? To Jerusalem – Pharisee City! Right into the heart of enemy territory!

 

And not on any quiet off-peak time! This was Passover – one of the major festivals on the Jewish calendar! There would be more chief priests and teachers there than you could poke a stick at! And Jesus was going right into the middle of it! What was he thinking?! No wonder they were astonished and afraid.

 

They can’t see how the Messiah. The promised one. The one who’ll rescue Israel. Can have anything to do with DEATH. Certainly not his own. It just doesn’t add up.

 

Why does Jesus show such courage? Why fix his eyes on Jerusalem, and lead the way there? Even though he knows that death and pain and betrayal are what lies waiting for him?

 

We see the answer in v45. He’s going there to give his life as A RANSOM FOR MANY. For many. That means YOU AND ME. He showed courage in the face of death/ because it was only BY his death/ that you and I could have LIFE.

It was the price that had to be paid to release the hostages. You and I, held hostage to sin and death. That’s where we were headed. That’s what we DESERVED.

 

But Jesus died to FREE us.

 

Jesus set his eyes on Jerusalem, and death, FOR YOU. Have you ACCEPTED his gift? Turned from your sin, and turned to Jesus.

 

It’s the least you can do when a gift as courageous as THAT’s been offered to you.

 

But if you HAVE accepted that gift, then let me ask ANOTHER question. Jesus set his eyes on Jerusalem, and death, FOR YOU. What will you set your eyes on/ FOR HIM? He’s the leading the way. Will YOU FOLLOW?

 

What is there/ on the road following after Jesus/ that scares you? What’s there / that you know you have to do/ but have been putting it off? Show some COURAGE and follow Jesus.

 

Maybe you’re a father or husband, and you know you should be being a better leader in Christian things in the house. Family prayer and bible reading just keeps slipping lower and lower down the priorities. Show some COURAGE.

 

Or maybe there’s a sin that you’ve been cherishing. Noone else knows about it. But you know you need to cut it off. But it’s so comforting. And comfortable. And it’s been with you for so long. And it’s not really hurting anyone else. Show some COURAGE.

 

Or maybe God’s been telling you to do something different with your life. A whole new challenge. But it’s the fear of the unknown. You’re not sure if it will work out. You’re comfortable where you are. Show some COURAGE.

 

Jesus set his eyes on Jerusalem and death FOR YOU. What will you set your eyes on for him?

 

2. Eyes on glory

But if Jesus’ eyes are set on JERUSALEM, James and John only have eyes for GLORY. They sense that things are hotting-up. They’ve followed Jesus through thick and thin. And they want to know if it’s going to pay off.

 

Will Jesus make it worth their while? Look at v35.

(Mark 10:35-37 NIV)  Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to him. “Teacher,” they said, “we want you to do for us whatever we ask.” {36} “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked. {37} They replied, “Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory.”

 

Now, we’re quick to rubbish James and John, aren’t we? We wonder how they can be so DUMB, and SELF-ABSORBED.

 

But despite all their faults, they TRUSTED Jesus. They’ve followed a working-class carpenter for three years. Through thick and thin. Even when they had no place to rest their heads. No money to buy food. Even when they couldn’t understand a word he said.

 

But gradually they began to believe. To catch the vision. Maybe this guy really COULD deliver. Maybe he COULD bring in God’s kingdom. They came to recognise that Jesus really WAS the CHRIST. And so to ask that they’d get a seat on either side of him in his glory/ was really a sign of their CONFIDENCE.

 

They had SOME IDEA about where He was headed. But NO IDEA about HOW HE WAS GOING TO GET THERE! They knew VICTORY was part of the package. But they didn’t twig that the way Jesus would ACHIEVE it was as the SUFFERING Servant.

 

And so THEY wanted glory, TOO. When Jesus gets the accolades and the applause, they want to make sure THEY don’t miss out.

 

But Jesus says that it’s not quite as simple as all that. Yes. He was going to Jerusalem for glory, but there was sacrifice and pain to endure first. Verse 38.

(Mark 10:38 NIV)  “You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said. “Can you drink the cup I drink or be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with?”

 

He’s talking about his suffering and death. The cup is a cup of suffering. The baptism is about being immersed and engulfed and overwhelmed with the pain, and rejection, and abandonment.

 

They needed to see the valley as well as the mountain top. Jesus says, “Can you follow after me? Can you cope with the suffering that’s in store for me?”

 

“No worries”, say James and John. “We can handle that.”

 

And Jesus responds by telling them that they actually WILL go through what he goes through (v39). And church history tells us that both of these men DID suffer for Jesus. They did follow the way of Jesus. Even though they couldn’t see the valley at the moment.

 

A bit later Jesus uses it as a chance to teach the WHOLE GROUPS. And I want you to notice carefully what Jesus DOES say (v42). We assume that he’s saying that it’s a BAD thing that the disciples want to be first in the kingdom. But let me suggest that Jesus doesn’t say that at all.

 

Rather, it’s a GOOD thing to want to be first in the kingdom. To want to sit in glory and authority.

 

Whether we’re talking about positions of leadership in the church TODAY, or about being first in the kingdom TO COME. Let me suggest that it’s a GOOD THING to want those positions.

 

As long as you realise what it involves. If suffering and service is how Jesus gets glory. Then that’s exactly the way for Jesus’ followers to get it too.

 

And down in v43 and 44, Jesus himself says that it’s GOOD to WANT TO BE FIRST IN THE KINGDOM. To want to be GREAT IN THE KINGDOM. Listen from v42.

(Mark 10:42-45 NIV)  Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. {43} NOT SO WITH YOU. Instead, WHOEVER WANTS TO BECOME GREAT AMONG YOU must be your servant, {44} and WHOEVER WANTS TO BE FIRST must be slave of all.

 

Do you want to receive glory in God’s kingdom? Do you want to be first? It’s a good thing to desire. Jesus values that. The question is/ are you prepared to do what it takes to get it?

 

Have you ever wondered who WILL be first in God’s kingdom? Who WILL get the good seats?

 

I wonder, when we get to heaven, and we look up there at those who receive the recognition, and the honour, and the authority, and the responsibility – will we RECOGNISE them? Will we know who they are?

 

Maybe a few. But I reckon that most of those who will be FIRST in God’s kingdom, are those who are LAST at the moment. Jesus says it will be those like little children. Those who’s work we DON’T recognise. Who don’t aspire to power here on earth. Who aren’t successful.

 

But who are godly. And who work at serving. Who love the Lord. Whose eyes are fixed on Jesus. And who put others first. Whether anyone notices or not.

 

That’s what it takes to be first in the kingdom. Are you prepared to do what it takes?

 

Few of us are OPENLY grand or proud in the things we do. But we do like to be noticed, don’t we?

 

Ask yourself the question about a particular job you are doing. “If nobody noticed that I was doing this job, or said anything about it for a year, would I still be as happy doing it?”

 

In some ways leading services and preaching is easy because people notice. It’s much harder, year and year out, to keep doing a job which few people notice. We need to be satisfied with doing a job simply for the approval of Jesus. For no other reason! That’s being great in the kingdom.

 

Or even if you DON’T have any jobs. Are you content, in your daily walk with Jesus, to work at being holy. Work hard at prayer. Work at loving God more completely. At despising the things of the world more. At BEING Jesus to those around you.

 

Do you want to receive glory in God’s kingdom? Do you want to be first? Are you prepared to do what it takes to get it? Will you FOLLOW?

 

3. Eyes on Jesus

Bartimaeus was prepared to follow. And even though he was blind, his eyes were fixed on Jesus. That’s point three in the outline.

 

Jesus keeps heading towards Jerusalem. And they make it to Jericho. That’s only about 25 km’s from Jerusalem. But as they’re leaving, there’s a beggar at the city gates. He’s blind. And Mark tells us/ his name is Bartimaeus. And that that means “Son of Timaeus”.

 

He hears a large crowd getting closer. The rumble of shuffling feet/ and the hum of excited voices. He finds out that it’s Jesus. And so, v47, he begins to shout.

 

“Jesus, Son of David. Have mercy on me!”

 

And even when everyone told him to pipe down. He KEPT yelling. “Son of David. Have mercy on me!”

 

Son of David. That’s the Messiah. The Chosen one. David’s Son returning to David’s city – Jerusalem.

 

And Bartimaeus knows that the prophet Isaiah said that when the Messiah came/ he’d open the eyes of the blind. And so he wants some of that!

 

This guy might be blind, but he can SEE better than anyone.

 

And I reckon we’re supposed to COMPARE him to James and John. Who AREN’T seeing Jesus all that clearly. Mark deliberately describes things so we’ll draw the comparison.

 

How are James and John described? Sons of Zebedee. How is this man described? Son of Timaeus. And they all have an opinion about the Son of DAVID.

 

And look at what Jesus says. To Bartimaeus, v51. “What do you want me to do for you?”

 

And what does he say to James and John? Verse 36. “What do you want me to do for you?”

 

James and John wanted a favour. They wanted glory. Bartimaeus just wanted to SEE. And because he saw who Jesus was. Because he had faith, Jesus made his eyes work again.

 

And what does Bartimaeus do? Does he go home, and tell everyone the good news? No. Verse 52. He FOLLOWED Jesus along the road. Into Jerusalem.

 

When we recognise who Jesus is. And what his claim is on us. We follow him on the road. Wherever the road takes us. We SHOW that we see Jesus clearly by FOLLOWING him.

 

Do you see Jesus clearly enough to follow him on the road? Wherever it goes?

 

He gave his life as a ransom for you. He paid the price. Through his death/ you can have life. Forgiveness and acceptance from God. Can you see it? Will you follow him like Bartimaeus?

 

Or what about James and John? Do you want to receive glory in God’s kingdom? Do you want to be first? Are you prepared to do what it takes to get it? Will you be the servant of all?

 

Jesus set his eyes on Jerusalem, and death, FOR YOU. What will you set your eyes on/ FOR HIM? He’s the leading the way. Will YOU FOLLOW?

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.