What did I learn about Jesus?
- He is a generous God, full of grace (verses 1-16).
- Jesus gave his life as payment for many (verse 28).
What did I learn about disciple-making?
- The plan has to be reiterated—here Jesus lets his disciples in on the end goal- his death and resurrection- a third time (verses 17-19).
- The disciple takes the lowly place and lives humbly (verses 16, 26-27).
Extended thoughts and observations from Pastor Mark:
Jesus is obviously preparing His disciples for His shocking arrest and death. He mentions it again in the most specific language thus far (17-19).
More subtly, He is teaching them about the real nature of leadership. I had not seen this before, but THREE times in this area, Jesus says essentially the same thing: “Many who are first will be last and many who are last will be first.” Underline this in Matthew 19:30; 20:16 (following the Vineyard workers parable); and 19:26-27 (where he specifically applies this idea to himself).
There are two aspects to this. First, Jesus who was first in heaven as the eternal and divine Son, became last… the slave of all. (Read Philippians 2:5 for Paul’s take on this.) We who would be His disciples must be willing to be last… not to push ourselves to the front. Notice the shocking confluence of Jesus’ prediction of His own death (verses 17-19) and…RIGHT ON THE HEELS OF THAT HORRIBLE NEWS…James and John’s mother is lobbying for her boys to be JC’s right and left hand men. It is an embarrassing juxtaposition, made even more obvious by the story of the two blind men who are so grateful at being healed, that they “followed him” (verse 34), i.e., they did not need to be in the lead; they were content to bring up the rear in Jesus’ train.
The other aspect to this (especially the vineyard story) is a warning to those who have been long-time Christians, church-members, etc., not to resent the Johnny-Come-Latelies that Jesus, in His grace, chooses to save, too. Remember the thief on the cross. Last minute! We who are “veteran” Christians can get resentful that newbies intrude themselves into our pews, our positions, etc. Jesus warns the Johns, James, and their mothers among us, that our attitude should be humble, last-place-in-line deference. If God wants to exalt us, He will. But we’d better join Jesus at the rear of the line!