Mark 10: To Serve and to Give His Life as a Ransom

by Bob Young
[permission is given to reprint with credit noted]

Reading: Mark 10

41 When the ten heard about this, they became indignant with James and John. 42 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. 45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." (Mark 10:41-45)

Reflecting and Thinking
This chapter provides a conclusion to Part One of Mark, a section we could describe as Jesus' ministry. In the next chapter, the Triumphal Entry will mark the beginning of Part Two-Jesus' death. While the third passion prediction (10:32-34) should be noted, this chapter is better summarized as a series of "follower narratives." Being a follower of Jesus has an impact on our marriages; our families, our attitudes (become like little children, or think about the negatives attitudes of the rich young man), and our desire for prominence. Becoming like Jesus leads to a life of service and sacrifice.
It is worthy of note that two blind man stories (8:22 and 10:46) seem to frame the section of Mark that includes the passion narratives. Is this literary structure a subtle question or message about who can see and who cannot see?

As you think about the contemporary church, how would you compare the number of people who are focused on becoming a servant with the number of those focused on becoming important? How can we imitate Jesus in his teachings in today's text? What does it mean to you to see in a spiritual sense? In the Gospel of Mark to this point, what could the disciples see and what could they not see? Who are some of those who saw most clearly in Mark's gospel?

Dear God, on many days we know that following Jesus is not a simple matter and is in fact very difficult. We want to be faithful followers; we want our commitment to Christ to be evident in every area of our lives. We want to be totally available for Jesus' work, withholding no part of our lives. Give us spiritual sensitivity and strength to follow in Jesus' footsteps. We pray in Jesus' name, Amen.

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Last updated August 16, 2011