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And he [Jesus] said to them, ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ (Mark 10:36 ESV) Here at International Lutheran Church, we have been studying the Gospel of Mark as we journey with Jesus to the Cross. During our Lenten devotions and time of prayer we have seen again and again the reason for these 40 days of preparation – our own need. But how would you articulate that? What would you have Jesus do for you? Today, we join James, John, and all the disciples in learning what it means for us that Jesus came to serve.

Mark 10 shares with us those final steps of Jesus and the disciples right before Holy Week. Jesus is going ahead of the disciples and Mark gives us a sense of the ominous fear that is beginning to overwhelm them as Jesus rehearses again for the third time and in even more detail the events that are to follow: “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death and deliver him over to the Gentiles. And they will mock him and spit on him, and flog him and kill him. And after three days he will rise.” (Mark 10:33-34 ESV)

James and John choose this moment to come to Jesus for a favor. “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.”  We might wonder if this is a kind of “prayer before it is too late?” Or perhaps this is a bold move to say they are ready to go all the way with Jesus. Either way the result is the same: we learn more about our Savior, why He came, and what His coming means for us. While some may be interested in wealth and security (like the rich young man only verses before), some of us tend to covet the seat of honor. Position and power are not modern conventions. Every culture has ways to differentiate the subtle differences between us. Our parents in the garden fell for this lie after all and so it continues to haunt us. But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die.  For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:4-5 ESV)

But besides saying “Don’t!” Jesus reveals to the Twelve and to us what it means for Him to be seated in His glory and the seating assignment in His Kingdom. The Son of Man did not come to be waited on, but to offer up His very life for us to be transformed by Him and in Him. While we may not immediately connect with the concepts of judgement and salvation that accompany His “baptism” and “the cup,” these two symbols continue to this very day to show us just what Jesus’ glory is all about – our ransom. His death brings us life. His wounds bring us healing. His emptying Himself gives us the forgiveness of all our debts.

More than just a vivifying effect, His service makes us servants. Our lives become the very vehicle through which others experience His grace and mercy. With James and John, we receive the Baptism of His forgiveness and we drink the cup of God’s favor and mercy. As we draw nearer to the cross, we see what Jesus’ life is all about – you and me. He did not come to this earth for any other reason than to give His life as a ransom for many that we would have life. As we gather in worship today to hear His Word, and receive what He has come to give us – His Body, His Blood – we see the new life that He has called us to in giving of self for the other.

Pastor Carl