JESUS SERVED: WE SERVE
35 And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came up to him and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” 36 And he said to them, “What do you want me to do for you?” 37 And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.” 38 Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?” 39 And they said to him, “We are able.” And Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you will drink, and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized, 40 but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.” 41 And when the ten heard it, they began to be indignant at James and John. 42 And Jesus called them to him and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. 43 But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. 45 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
46 And they came to Jericho. And as he was leaving Jericho with his disciples and a great crowd, Bartimaeus, a blind beggar, the son of Timaeus, was sitting by the roadside. 47 And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 48 And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” 49 And Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart. Get up; he is calling you.” 50 And throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. 51 And Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” And the blind man said to him, “Rabbi, let me recover my sight.”52 And Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him on the way. —Mark 10:35-52
Somehow we have seen serving get twisted into an act that is sometimes carried out because of the benefit we reap. This is not always true, of course, but often underlying the serving is a motivation brought about by one’s self. Self-serving, if you will. We can quickly line up our thoughts, our drive, our actions behind our own motivations. Those motivations are deep-rooted in our culture, for they are what we would so instinctively say are what makes us who we are. The rugged individualism of the Western culture where we pull up our bootstraps and work hard on our behalf. We are the subsequent beneficiaries of that work. This stands in stark contrast to the “hope” of the world, Jesus, which is represented by the first candle of advent.
James and John, affectionately known as the “sons of thunder,” get caught up in the same manner that we so easily do. They allow their minds to begin to think that they are a bit more important than even their closest friends, the other disciples. In their hearts, they believe that they actually have the capacity to be like their Savior, Jesus, and do what He is about to do. These things are then acted upon, both in conversation—in front of the other ten disciples!—and when they come across a blind beggar. The beggar is quickly dismissed. But Jesus intervenes. Thankfully.
As Christ has served us, so He does with His disciples and, to illustrate to them, with blind Bartimaeus. He first has to explain to James and John what He came to do so that they are able to have a change of mind. At the beginning of chapter ten it says, “And again, as was his custom, he taught them.” Jesus, over and over, taught His followers and disciples why He had come so that they would know it. For us to grasp the importance of serving, we have to know that Jesus came to serve us.
Only Jesus can give us a change of heart also, for He served us selflessly and willfully. His concise response to James and John—the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many—cuts to the heart, for He shows them that it is not mere serving that He came for, but to sacrifice His life! We won’t be willing to truly serve others until we are ready to sacrifice everything for them and for the glory of God. This requires a belief that doing the will of the Father by serving others brings about far more satisfaction than doing our own self-serving will.
Like so many new testament encounters with Jesus, it is only the people who are desperate who actually get served by Him. Like us, the disciples and others quickly dismiss the blind beggar. And like so many in numerous ways, Bartimaeus cried out for Jesus. Jesus put His serving into action in that moment, engaging even those who just selfishly wanted Jesus for themselves to go and tell Bartimaeus to come. The disciples themselves eventually had a change of behavior, for they did many of the same things after Jesus sacrificed His life for them, rose from the dead, and ascended back to the Father. We would do well to ask the same question of so many who come across our path, both in and out of the family of God: What do you want me to do for you? Only when we do this can we offer a Hope that will last, that is transformational, that will endure whatever it costs us.
You can download the JESUS SERVED: WE SERVE Advent Resource Guide here.