Servant Jesus (Mark 10:32-45) Lent 5B
Mark 10:(32-34) 35-45
Very strange. Astonishingly strange. Fearfully strange. His preaching and itinerary are giving off some very wierd vibes! Freaking everybody out! Scaring the living daylights out of everyone!
Ominously off to Jerusalem! Don’t get in His way! Don’t even try to stop Him! He’s relentless! Jesus has “Jerusalem” on the brain! A “Jerusalem” fixation! He’s out in front of the pack! Leading the way all by Himself!
He’s Johnny One Note when it comes to a certain kind of sermon with His Jerusalem obsession! It’s like Jesus is addicted to this kind of sermon. It’s the third one! And this time He preaches in great detail. He really cranks up the heat! The sermon is about some “Son of man.” Whoever that is! This poor Son-of-man-sap will be betrayed. Tried and condemned to death. Handed over to the Gentiles. Mocked. Spit upon. Flogged. Killed. Three days later a resurrection.
Who is this “Son of man” character that Jesus can’t wait to see in Jerusalem? We can’t seem to make heads or tails out of it! Whoever this “Son of man” is he is a tragic figure!
But Jesus will stop at nothing to go see this! It’s the only thing He’ll talk about! Such preaching really borders on some kind of mania! Really quite macabre! Morbid! He really needs some professional help! What would you suggest? A Freudian? A Jungian? A Dr. Phil? An Oprah? It really doesn’t matter! We’ve got to get Him off this horrid, pessimistic Son-of-man-Jerusalem neurosis!
That’s when James and John come to the rescue. Time to gloss over the latest Jesus sermon. Time to blather on about heavenly seating arrangements! Here’s the ticket. “Jesus, we have a request! You always want us to be bold and confident when we pray! So here goes! When you (unlike that poor, pathetic Son of man character that you talk about) enter into your glory – when you establish the magnificent Messianic kingdom of God here on the earth – when the Romans are put in their place – when you reign like our fathers King David and King Solomon – give us seats! One on your right! One on your left! After all, let’s think positive! Let’s go full guns a blazin’ greatness! Fame! Prestige! Glory! Success! World transformation! In your glorious kingdom we will all be served! Waited upon! Barking out the orders! Running the show! Let’s hear no more about this pathetic Son of man business! We’ll be having a power ministry and a power church! And we’ll let you lead it! We’ll be right beside you – all the way! Thanks for listening Jesus!”
James and John don’t get it. Neither do we! “You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus flat out says. The Son of man is not someone else! He is preaching about Himself! The Jerusalem betrayal, brutal suffering, humiliation, death and mysterious third day resurrection are about Him! All this stuff is going to happen to Him! A royal, messianic reign on the earth when he Son of Man is lifted up on the cross! Dead! Graveyard dead!
Then Jesus asks them and all of us: “Can you drink the cup I drink and be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with?” Predictably we all say: “Sure! No problem! We’re all in!”
That’s when Jesus, in a long, drown out breath says, “O . . . kay, that’s precisely what you will get! You will drink the cup I drink and be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with but all this business about who gets what seats is not in my job description. I’m the Son of man. Therefore I am in to death and resurrection. That’s the exclusive game in town! I’ll do nothing else. Because that’s the only way sinners can be saved! Don’t try and keep me from doing this! If you do, then you won’t have a Savior! You’ll still be in your sins! And there’s no hope of salvation for you or for anyone!”
Son of Man Jesus is the dying, dead, and resurrected Servant King Jesus! Rejected. Condemned. Handed over for execution. All at Jerusalem! The measure of all greatness and power is the self-giving of the Son of Man Jesus who serves to the utmost! By doing a divine service par excellance! “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many – for all.” Calvary. Good Friday. The cup! The drink! Baptized! Immersed in all your sin! Bearing it all in His Body! Drenched with all of God’s wrath against your sin! Damned! Cursed!
For you! Yes, that’s right, for you! For your ransom! For your salvation!
Son of Man Jesus – plunged into suffering and death! He came to serve sinners. To give His life on the cross for you!
And when He died on the cross all died! “One died for all,” St. Paul writes, “and therefore all died,” (2 Corinthians 5:14). All sin and every sinner put to death in His Mount Calvary death! And then “buried with Him [Jesus] through baptism into death,” His Good Friday death (Romans 6:4). That’s you! Jesus binds you to Himself in His death! What He did for your salvation counts for you!
Son of Man Jesus did what He said He would do. He suffered, died, and on the third day rose from the dead. He reigns! As the crucified Son of Man! He lords His Good Friday death over you and all your sin! He attacks you and your sin with the preaching of His cross and resurrection!
And that means a daily death — dying to sin! The life of Holy Baptism! In other words, that the old Adam, by daily contrition and repentance, be drowned and die with all sins and evil desires! Like lording yourself over others! Acting like everything and everyone should revolve around you! As if you’re the only person who counts! You must die to all that! Why? So that the new man, the new creation, the person who believes in Jesus will daily emerge and arise to live before God in the righteousness and purity of Jesus’ forgiveness. Forgiveness given to you today in the Lord’s Supper!
Then the Lord has use for you! So that you are a servant! To others! For others! For their good and for their well being! Putting yourself last! Serving those in need with love! Giving yourself with all your might to help your spouse, your children, the members of your congregation, and the people you work with! “The fruit of the Gospel” and “the fruit of the sacrament [of the altar] . . . is nothing other than love . . . As he [Jesus] gave himself for us with his body and blood in order to redeem us from all misery, so we too are to give ourselves with might and main for our neighbor. This is how a Christian acts. He is conscious of nothing else than that the goods which are his are also given to his neighbor. He makes no distinction, but helps everyone with body and life, goods and honor, as much as he can.” The “use” of Jesus on the Cross and the Sacrament of the Altar is “for the glory of God and the good of the neighbor.”
Now that’s power! That’s greatness! That’s glory! Served by Jesus! And through His divine service of Word and Sacrament you learn to die to sin every day. And then a resurrection as well every day until your bodily resurrection on the Last Day! Believing that all your sin is forgiven because of Son of Man Jesus. “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and give His life as a ransom for many.” And for you!
In the Name of Jesus.
1526 “The Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ – Against the Fanatics,” Luther’s Works, American Edition 36:352-353.
1526 “Preface to the German Mass,” Luther’s Works, American Edition 53:61.