Psalms 22,105,130, and 148
2 Corinthians 4:1-12
Mark 10:32-35 KJV
And they were in 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 should 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 scourge him, and shall spit upon him: and the third day he shall rise again.”
And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, come unto him, saying, “Master, we would that thou shouldest do for us whatsoever we shall desire. And he said unto them, “What would ye that I should do for you?” They said to him, “Grant unto us that we may sit, one on thy right hand, and the other on thy left hand in thy glory.”
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 to them, “Ye shall indeed drink of the cup that I drink of; and with the baptism that I am baptized withal shall ye be baptized: but to sit on my right hand and left hand is not mine to give; but it shall be given them for whom it is prepared.”
And when the ten heard it, they began to be much displeased with James and John. But Jesus called them to him and saith unto them, “Ye know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise leadership over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon them. But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you shall be your minister: and whosoever of you will be the chiefest shall be servant of all. For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.”
Perhaps the most telling difference between the Old Testament readings and the passage from Mark is tone. And Jesus is the reason. Some of the Psalms and the Exodus passage are what we might call “fire and brimstone.” God, in taking care of Israel, rains down hail and later other scourges on Egypt, for which Moses and the people are grateful. David uses the word “mercy” in the Psalms, but I think he uses “fear” even more.
Contrast that with Jesus’ words and active description of mercy in Mark 10. Traveling toward Jerusalem, the twelve disciples feel amazement and fear, that Old Testament word. Its use is not fear of Jesus, but of the crowds, I think. They have nothing to fear from Jesus’ actions toward them or the other followers. He foretells his fate for the first time to the twelve. That would be something to fear, but it is not God’s Old Testament wrath. Quite the contrary.
Two of his disciples display our common human trait, selfishness. Jesus does not rebuke them after his questions of the two. Instead he uses it as a teachable moment after the other ten express displeasure at them. Jesus explains that their jobs will not be to receive honor, but to minister to all. The word “mercy” is not used here, but what greater mercy will humankind ever benefit from than “the ransom for many” that Jesus describes?
Lord, may your gift to us of your Son and his gift to all of us be a constant reminder of the mercy that we have received and our obligation to show mercy toward others in our own lives. Amen.