Jesus Is Glorified Because He Is Able (Mark 10:35-45)

Text: Mark 10:35-45

I am addicted to glory my friends! There is no doubt about it that I want glory and I am pretty convinced that you want it also. Glory is great honor or fame; it is being in a position of adoration, receiving splendor and being exalted! Who wouldn’t want this? For guys it is awesome to be in a place of honor and fame isn’t it? For you gals, isn’t it wonderful when you are a princess and the whole world bows to your splendor and serves you?

Not only do we long for glory, we are told in our culture that we deserve glory. Listen to some of these marketing slogans, “Have it your way. Because Your Worth It. You deserve a break today. We do it all for you. You deserve the best.”

The desire for glory is nothing new. It was nothing new for the disciples either. In our text Jesus is journeying to Jerusalem where He is going to be handed over to the religious rulers and authorities and is going to be flogged, spit upon, beaten and crucified. In fact Jesus has revealed this to His disciples before, however, it just seems as if they don’t hear Jesus and are fixated on glory. “Jesus Grant us to sit one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.” The disciples knew that Jesus was the Messiah. They witnessed His miracles, they saw Him transfigured like the sun, they knew His authority, and they dreamed of how He was going to make things happen; put things into action if you will. They knew He was the Messiah and they anticipated, like many others, that when Jesus would arrive in Jerusalem that fireworks would go off, that the fight would be on and that He would overthrow the Roman Empire and usher in an independent Jerusalem with a powerful reign like King David’s. They wanted to be in on this glory.

It would be easy for us to come down hard on the disciples here but what we realize in this text is that Jesus doesn’t rebuke them. He doesn’t condemn their request. You see their request for glory with Jesus springs forth from faith. They realized that glory was attached to Jesus and this is a good thing. It is a good thing that they want to be on Jesus’ right and left, is it not? For us today, it is also good for us to want to be with Jesus. It is good when we want to be with Jesus in His adoration, fame, honor and splendor rather than finding glory in ourselves and the things of this life. It is a good thing for us to want to rub against Jesus in His glory. The problem is not that the disciples sought glory from Jesus, the problem is that their motives and their understanding of glory needed to be purified; it needed to be refined. I believe that the same is true for us today.

Several years ago I attended a worship service here in Richland County and the Pastor preached on Jesus’s glorious cross. He talked about what Jesus did for us on the cross, how the cross is a glorious thing. However, the Pastor then shared with the congregation that the cross was a “glorious example” for us to follow. He shared that the cross is our “model” for how we are to live. If we wanted to walk like Jesus, then we needed to follow the glorious pattern of the cross. Is this a good thing? I would have to say yes. It is a good thing to appeal to the cross. It is a good thing to point people to Jesus. The problem with this is that we do not understand things correctly when we attempt to live like Jesus. You see the disciples they wanted to sit with Jesus at His right and left in glory. This is good; nothing wrong with this. However, Jesus challenges them and says, “you do not know what you are asking.” In other words, they didn’t understand what it meant for Jesus to obtain glory. They were ignorant of what their request involved. They didn’t understand the real kingdom that Jesus was building. They wanted glory but didn’t understand the pain that Christ was about to go through. Jesus corrects them and asks them, “Are you able to drink the cup that I drink or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized.” Now, this isn’t merely drinking a strong cup of coffee or getting a little wet. The phrase “drinking the cup” was a phrase that communicated pain and suffering. When Jesus talked about “baptism” here He is not referring to water over the head, rather He is talking about being submerged in death. In other words, He is asking James and John if they would be able to go through suffering and death as He was about to. Therefore, when we try to live like Jesus or appeal to the cross as a model of how to live are we really able to drink the cup that Jesus drank, are we able to be baptized in the baptism of suffering that Jesus endured? The way to glory is not through victory in following a pattern or modeling Jesus my friends. Jesus points out to James and John that the way to glory and greatness is not through overthrowing the Roman Empire and being in victory. Rather, the way to glory is through the cross, through suffering and through humiliation. The kingdom of God is not like the ways of this world.

An old professor was on Christian College campus one day and was walking with his cane and came across a young freshman on campus that had a WWJD bracelet on. (What Would Jesus Do?) The professor looked up at the young freshman, poked him with his cane and said, “I will tell you what Jesus would do… He would die.”

My friends, if we think that we are able to obtain glory like the disciples with our own ambition, we are severely mistaking ourselves. Even though it is good that we want to follow the pattern of the cross, even though it is good that we want to be like Jesus, even though faith is present when we say that we want to pattern ourselves off of the glorious cross, our faith is still misguided. For are you able to drink the pain of a thorny cross? Are you able to drink the pain of flogging? Are you able to drink the pain of God’s wrath? Are you able to bear the sins of the world on yourself? It is good that we want to be like Jesus. It is good that we want to be with Him in His glory. However, we are not able; for if we were able, we would be the savior and we would have no use for Jesus. We cannot model Jesus and we cannot follow the pattern of the cross, for if we could, it would mean that we would have to die for our sins and the sins of the world. We are not divine.

The very blunt reality of our text today is that Jesus was able. Jesus drank the cup of suffering. Jesus was baptized in a drenching of death. Jesus suffered the pain. Jesus went to the cross. This is why Jesus is glorious. He is not a glorious savior because He conquered a mere earthly kingdom rather He is glorious because He conquered darkness, He conquered sin and He conquered death itself. Jesus obtains glory, honor, splendor and fame, through losing on the cross, which is ultimately victory. The way to glory in the kingdom of God is through suffering. This idea of glory is climaxed in the thoughts that Jesus became last, He was made sin and He became a slave of all. There is a paradox to this understanding of Glory. Glory comes not by winning but by losing my friends. Glory comes not by being first but by being last. Jesus did not come to be served but to be a slave for all. The purpose of Jesus’ life was to give, not to take. He did not come to take earthly kingdoms but to give us the kingdom of God. Jesus paid what we should’ve paid but simply could not.

Glory is found not in our sacrifices for Christ, but in His sacrifice for us. We receive glory when we receive the suffering savior for us. For in the suffering savior we have forgiveness of sins. In the suffering savior, He became last so that we might be first. He became our servant, serving us above Himself. Our debt became His debt. Your sin became His sin. His righteousness is your righteousness. Jesus is able. That is what makes a glorious Savior. Amen.

Sources: Commentary on Mark (Lenski) ~ The New International Greek Commentary: The Gospel of Mark (France) ~ Sermon Studies On The Gospels: Series B (NPH)