What does it mean to walk alongside Jesus? – Mark 10:32-52
Our passage for today is from Mark 10:32-45. [READ]
As we read this passage, the first thing we notice is James and John approaching Jesus and trying to reserve a prominent place next to Him, one on his right and one on his left, in his glory.
If we are honest, the request that James & John makes shouldn’t be a surprising one for us. Because, if given a chance we all like and desire to have a special place next to the person we love and admire. Won’t you agree?
We like to be the special child to our parents and have a special place in their heart, we like to be the special employee at work – have a close rapport with our managers and bosses, we like to have a special place at church – a close rapport with the leaders, we also love the idea of been associated with famous people, etc
I see my sons Jairus & Amaze often battle with each other to sit or sleep right next to mom & dad.
Likewise, even John & James desired for a special place next to their Lord whom they loved dearly. In the last 3 years, they walked with him, talked with them, also fully convinced that He is the promised Messiah, the son of God.
When Jesus said. “Can you drink the cup I drink or be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with?”. They were so compelled by His love they immediately answered with a ‘Yes’, saying ‘we can’, they loved him so much that they were willing to do anything to be close to Him, however, I don’t think they fully understood what that meant.
What we see here is that their desire to be and walk alongside Jesus was a good desire, but the motive and the approach wasn’t right.
Among all the people that were following Jesus, he had 12 who were close to him, but even among the 12, there were 3 that were closest to him.
Peter, James & John.
What we see James and John doing is that they were pushing themselves to get pre-eminence over others, even pushing Peter out of the circle. In Matthew 20:20 Matthew writes that they got their mother to come to Jesus
and request him to allow her boys to sit next to him.
Looking at what John and James did, in verse 41 Mark writes “When the ten heard about this, they became indignant with James and John.” In other words, they saw it as a cheap stunt to get ahead of others in the group.
If I have to put that in the church context, it’s like us wanting to follow Jesus, wanting to come to church, have fellowship with brothers and sisters, wanting to participate in worship, listen to the word – all because we genuinely love Jesus and his people.
But the approach in which we do it could be by performance before God and others & even trying to push ourselves ahead of others
We often do that without even really understanding the truth of what it really means to be called a believer and to walk alongside Jesus.
I believe what this passage teaches us today is ‘What does it really means to walk alongside Jesus’, what does it mean to know Jesus as our Lord and saviour and walk in his paths. Three important lessons to remind ourselves.
To walk alongside Christ, we need to have the mind of Christ.
The number one lesson this passage teaches us is that “To walk alongside Christ, we need to have the mind of Christ.”
Let’s read through (v32 to v37)
32 They were on their way up to Jerusalem, with Jesus leading the way, and the disciples were astonished, while those who followed were afraid. Again he took the Twelve aside and told them what was going to happen to him. 33 “We are going up to Jerusalem,” he said, “and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the 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.”
35 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.”
Jesus is on the way to Jerusalem, the place where he will be delivered over to the chief priest, condemned to death, handed over to the Gentiles, mocked, spat on, and hanged on the cross.
He is literally walking towards his painful death, and he is, in fact, leading the way. The verse says the disciples were afraid and at the same time astonished to see Jesus walking towards Jerusalem where the Pharisees and the teachers of the law hated him and was waiting to kill and torture him.
Can you imagine what’s going on in Jesus’s mind as he is taking that route?
I believe, all he was thinking was about was us – the disciples, you, me and the numerous lost souls for whom he left his heavenly glory, emptying himself, taking the form of a servant, humbled himself to become God’s perfect sacrifice for the sins of the whole world.
His mind was set on the purpose for which he came down to earth, sent by his Father in heaven. To set us free from Sin and death.
He seems so full of it that he ends up reminding them once again that the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the 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.”
Now, What’s on the disciple’s mind?
Just as Jesus finished his statement, James & John immediately go to Him and says “Teacher,” they said, “we want you to do for us whatever we ask.”
Reminds me of a scenario in the office where the Manager just gave a presentation on the new marketing strategy and asks his team members to give feedback, and one guy raises his hand and says “Are we going to have Chinese for lunch today?”
It tells us two things about the guy, first, he wasn’t really paying attention to what his manager was talking, second, his agenda for the day was to have Chinese for lunch.
Is it possible for us to have a totally different agenda in our mind and be distracted when we come to church, when we approach Jesus in prayer, when we have fellowship with other believers? Yes, it is possible.
Is it right? NO
To walk alongside Christ, we need to have the mind of Christ.
Paul writes in his letter to Philippians 2:5-8
“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God, a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”
Paul is urging the Philippian believers to set their mind on the eternal things, just as Jesus did.
If we truly desire to be with Jesus and walk with him daily, we have to change the way we think, we can’t fix our eyes on the earthly things. Money, possessions, positions, pride – we have to lose sight of all these distractions and fix our eyes on the eternal purpose of God in our lives.
We can’t desire to walk with Jesus and worry about tomorrow, what we will eat, drink, where we will live and what we will wear.
It’s easy to say I want to be with Jesus but let us also be willing to have the mind of Christ – our hearts, minds and soul fixed on the eternal purpose for which we were created. – TO BRING GLORY TO GOD.
To walk alongside Jesus, we have to embrace the Cross (v38 – v40)
38 “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?”
39 “We can,” they answered.
Jesus said to them, “You will drink the cup I drink and be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with, 40 but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared.”
When Jesus said, “Can you drink the cup I drink or be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with?” Jesus meant to ask them, whether they are willing to carry their cross and follow his footsteps.
Just like in Matthew 16:24 where Jesus asks – “Are you willing to deny yourself and take up your cross and follow me?
“Take up your cross and follow Me” means being willing to die in order to follow Jesus. This is called “dying to self.” It’s a call to absolute surrender.
Which means dying to our fleshly desires, letting go of our carnal dreams, letting loose the things of the world, the emotions attached with the world, the needs of this world. Where we are fully trusting in God’s provision and providence for us on this life on earth.
I remember when I was a young believer my Pastor, every time we went to a cemetery or a funeral, he would look at me and say “Saju, do you know that dead men don’t feel any pinprick”, He will point me to the graveyards and tell me no matter what you tell these dead men they will never react to you, because they are dead.
And then he would go on to explain what it means to die to ourselves in the Kingdom of God. He would tell me, nothing of this world should move you or distract you from trusting in God and fulfilling His purposes. Consider yourself dead to the world.
(Luke 9:24-25) – “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?”
On the other hand, we should be aware that Christian life is a radical life, we’re going the systems of this world, the human cultures and traditions and beliefs. You are going against the very foundations on which this sinful world is established.
In Matthew 5 Jesus said you will be insulted, persecuted, falsely accused, for my name’s sake. Our family will hate us, our close friends will reject us, our society will mock at us. But rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven.
How can we endure these pain, persecution and hate? We can only do that when we are prepared to carry our cross and follow Jesus, dying to our self, denying the world & trust in God alone.
We can’t say that we enjoy the rains but don’t like the idea of getting wet.
In the say way, we can’t desire to walk alongside Jesus and don’t like the idea of embracing the cross & going through suffering for the sake of Christ. It is part and parcel of our Faith.
Sadly, every time Jesus would talk about carrying the cross his followers would keep reducing. Because even though they liked the idea of following Jesus they did not like the idea of letting go of the world.
Let’s check our hearts and see where do we stand?
To walk alongside Jesus, we have to be servants (v42- v45)
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.”
When the other 10 disciples look down on James and John, Jesus turns to them and tells them about what it really means to become great in the kingdom of God, which is what probably everyone in the room desired for.
He says unlike the Gentiles “whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever wants to be first must be a 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.”
No believer is called to sit on the pedestal and watch. We don’t follow Jesus or come to church just to be an audience, we are called to be participants in the Kingdom of God.
Nobody who claims to be a follower of Jesus should say that they love Jesus and love coming to church but are unwilling to serve in any manner. If our Lord whom we love and admire did not come to be served but to serve and give his life as a ransom for many. We also ought to have a heart of a servant.
We don’t wait from someone to come to us and assign us a role to serve. Instead, we ought to look for opportunities to serve in small and big measures as per our giftings.
We shouldn’t come to church with a consumerist mentality, where it’s all about us wanting what pleases us. Music of our taste, preacher of our style, church building of our status, a people group of our mindset etc.
We ought to be servants in the Kingdom of God if we desire to walk alongside Jesus.
Yes, it is great that you love Jesus but how are you serving one another with the love of Christ, when was the last time we sacrificed our time, money & pleasure to bring joy and encouragement to another brother or sister in the Lord.
As I conclude, I want to encourage you to desire more to be and walk alongside Jesus but let’s do it with the motive and approach. Fully understanding that to walk alongside Jesus, we need to have the mind of Christ, we have to embrace the Cross & we have become servants.