“Jesus is Leading You to the Cross. Are You Following?
INTRODUCTION What is the Meaning of Mark 10.32-52
Mark 10 verse 32, in your Bibles. We have been working our way through the book of Mark and we have come to a passage that is the center and summary of all of what Mark has to say about faith and discipleship. Eternal salvation in Mark’s gospel really is a matter of discipleship. And the question that creates anticipation in this book is, “Will you as the reader of Mark’s gospel exercise faith in Jesus and jump up and follow him?”
And this passage supports this anticipation and is even the culmination of Mark’s teaching on discipleship and following Jesus. Here, Mark really emphasizes the theme of following Jesus and being a disciple of Jesus. Just to give an overview of the passage, notice verse 32 in the middle of the verse where it says that Jesus was “walking on ahead of them.” Jesus is leading them. But where are they going? To Jerusalem for the crucifixion. There’s Jesus, leading the way to the cross as the disciples follow.
Notice there in v. 32 that they were all amazed and the next phrase gives us the focus on following Jesus. “Those who followed were fearful.” Jesus is leading fearful followers.
This same theme of Jesus leading and the disciples following is found in Jesus’ question to the disciples in verse 38 where he asks Mark 10:38 (NASB) … Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?”
Whatever the cup and the baptism represents, the question concerns whether or not Jesus disciples will follow Jesus in the drinking of that same cup that He drinks. Will Jesus’ disciples follow him in the being baptized with that same baptism that He himself is baptized with? Will they follow Him in that way? And of course, verse 39, indicates that indeed they will follow him; they will drink that cup and they will be baptized with that same baptism. So the point here is that Jesus is focusing on the disciples following him and being like him in some way.
The same theme of following Jesus as a disciple is found in verses 43-45, where we’re given the indication that Jesus is the example that we are to follow. Verse 43, if you want to be great you must be a servant; verse 44 if you want to be first you must be a slave. And it works that way because, verse 45, “for even the Son of Man” …and now we have Jesus’ example that we are to follow. We must be servants v.43 and we must be slaves v.44 because the Son of Man did the same thing… Verse 45, “the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.” We must be slaves and servants for the sake of a ransom for many because that’s what Jesus did. We must follow him in that way as His disciples.
And finally this theme of following Jesus is highlighted in the next story of blind Bartimaeus. The very last verse of our text, verse 52, after Jesus heals Bartimaeus, he begins “following Jesus on the road.” He’s following Jesus. But notice that phrase there, “on the road.” This is no insignificant phrase. As we pointed out last week, this phrase gives us a strong sense that we are on the road to the cross with Jesus!
And we saw that those in the story are on the way to Jerusalem, where Jesus will be crucified. So Jesus has set out on this journey and he’s taking his disciples with him…to the cross! He is taking his disciples to the cross and the whole point in the use of this phrase to draw us in and make us feel like we are on this same road with Jesus, headed to the cross. And the issue is, “Will you, the reader of this gospel, will you, as well, follow Jesus on this road and take up your cross?”
And perhaps you noticed as we read this passage, the repetition of this phrase “by [or “on”] the road.” This phrase actually occurs three times in our text this morning. First, it occurs at the beginning of verse 32. Also, it occurs at the end of verse 46 as well as the end of verse 52. Here we are all together, as we look into this passage this morning, here we are and we are treading down the dusty dirt path on the way going to Jerusalem, to the cross, and it’s as if we are part of the crowd.
And that’s exactly the picture. Because it seems that there are the 12 disciples as well as other people following on the same road. Verse 32 where it says that Jesus was “walking on ahead of them; and they were amazed and those who followed were fearful.” Verse 46 also tells us that a large crowd is there.
So we are in the crowd following along with Jesus and the disciples. But just our physical presence on this road does not indicate that we are true disciples of Jesus Christ.
And of course the disciples James and John clearly are requesting something that is antithetical to the true nature of being a disciple of Jesus. It is questionable whether James and John really see and understand what it means to be a disciple of Jesus.
And that’s a great contrast to the blind man Bartimaeus at the end of our text. Mark’s whole point in this named blind man is to demonstrate that this is someone who is no longer on the side of this dusty dirt road on the way to taking up the cross, but he is one who is, after Jesus ministry to him, he is on the road now following Jesus, as Mark says there at the end of verse 52. He began “following him on the road.”
And Jesus is out in front leading, in v. 32. Knowing his crucifixion is imminent and that he would die for the sins of the world, verse 32 “Jesus was walking on ahead of them”… that is, He is leading them to the cross. Will His disciples take up their cross with Him? So then, I would like to preach to you this morning on the message of this passage which is “Jesus is Leading You to the Cross. Are You Following?”
Jesus leads the way to the cross (10:32-34)
Jesus is clearly leading the way to the cross and his disciples are following along him. Will they take up the cross too?
Jesus leads the way (10:32)
Mark 10:32 (NASB) They were on the road going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking on ahead of them; and they were amazed, and those who followed were fearful. And again He took the twelve aside and began to tell them what was going to happen to Him,
So we have two sets of individuals on the road with Jesus. We have the disciples and we have the crowd, as represented there by the first word verse 32, “they were on the road”; “Jesus was walking on ahead of them”; “they were amazed” and “those who followed were fearful.”
And they’re all going to Jerusalem and Jesus is out in front leading the way and it says that those who are following him were “amazed” as well as “fearful.” And these two emotions are quite common responses to Jesus’ ministry. His words and his miracles evoked such powerful emotions in people. And that they are experiencing these emotions as they are on their way to Jerusalem is no surprise, given the opposition that Jesus has in that very city. Jerusalem is the headquarters for the Pharisees and those who want to put Jesus to death. And of course this is exactly what was about to happen to Jesus. And Jesus predicts his death in verses 33 and 34.
He’s leading His followers to the cross (10:33-34)
He says to His 12 disciples…
Mark 10:33-34 (NASB) 33, “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered to the chief priests and the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death and will hand Him over to the Gentiles. 34 “They will mock Him and spit on Him, and scourge Him and kill Him, and three days later He will rise again.”
And here again begins Jesus third prediction of his death and resurrection. And as we have seen, each prediction of his death and resurrection is followed up by an improper response of the disciples. And this response demonstrates they do not understand the nature of true discipleship. And in each of these predictions of his death and resurrection, Jesus corrects or responds in some way to the disciples’ misunderstanding. Each of the three major predictions has that same cycle of prediction, response, and corrective teaching for disciples.
And this prediction is much more detail than his other predictions. And that is not surprising. As the anticipation of his future death grows because it is getting closer, so does the clarity of his predictions. Jesus predicts specifics in verse 34 that he would be mocked and that he would be spit upon and that he would be scourged and that they would kill him. And He predicts his very own bodily resurrection from the grave.
And in his death and suffering, Jesus provides an example. And the question is, do the disciples understand that taking up the cross like this and dying to self is the proper response? That is the nature of Jesus death on the cross for his disciples. Not only of course is it an effective death to take away sins, as we’ll see, but it serves as an example for us to go with him on the road following him and to suffer this fate with them if necessary. Do the disciples understand?
The disciples misunderstand the way of the cross (10:35-41)
The disciples self-serve while the Son of Man self-sacrifices
And of course the answer to that is, “no they don’t.” And so what we are going to see in verses 35-41, is that the disciples self-serve while the Son of Man self-sacrifices. The disciples serve themselves, while the Son of Man sacrifices himself. And the 2 disciples, James and John, who are brothers, will betray themselves that they are really in it for themselves.
The Disciples Self-Serving Request (10:35-37)
Mark 10:35-37 (NASB) 35 James and John, the two sons of Zebedee, *came up to Jesus, saying, “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 They said to Him, “Grant that we may sit, one on Your right and one on Your left, in Your glory.”
James and John, two brothers, make up two of the three of Christ’s inner circle. Peter, of course, is that third disciple. And they have somewhat of a strange beginning when they say at the end of verse 35, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” By doing this, they seem to indicate that they have a specific request in mind.
And this statement seems to be a desire that whatever they ask for next would have the guarantee of a positive answer from Jesus even before they make the request. “We want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” “Please answer our request that we are about to ask you with a ‘yes’….please!” And they likely do this because they know that what they are about to ask is questionable; however, they greatly desire it.
And what we are about to see is that what they are going to ask is self-serving and callously assuming upon Jesus and of course is quite offensive to the other disciples. But most importantly, it is entirely antithetical to the nature of discipleship.
But Jesus entertains their desire in verse 36, “what do you want me to do for you?” … That won’t be the last time we see that question…
Verse 37 they present their request. They want Jesus to give to them the opportunity to sit on either side of him in his glory. They want Jesus in the middle and one of them on either side in heaven.
Could you imagine the disciples asking such a question after Jesus just predicted the very culmination of his life’s work on Earth? He left his glory above to be God in flesh to live a life of utter service and sacrifice and persecution and death and resurrection … And his announcement of that does not invoke any sense of devotion to Him or His calling in these things, but merely a desire for self-glorification. How disturbing is that?!
But you say, “Well, at least they want to put Jesus in the middle. Sure, they are on either side of Him, but Jesus is in the middle; you have to grant that. He does have the place of honor in the lives of James and John.” Even though Jesus does have a place of honor in the middle of them, this merely shows that the disciples are really worshiping and serving themselves underneath the cloak of “worshiping Jesus.”
They are worshiping Jesus for the sake of having the honored position on either side of him. They are serving him for self-exaltation, for selfish purposes. They want to serve Jesus, only because they want to worship themselves and this is the best and most efficient way of making it to the top. This is not discipleship.
Jesus’ correction of self-service with self-sacrifice (10:38-40)
After hearing their request, Jesus responds in Mark 10:38-40 (NASB) 38 But 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 They said to Him, “We are able.” And Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you shall drink; and you shall be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized. 40 “But to sit on My right or on My left, this is not Mine to give; but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.”
And then the other ten disciples likewise respond to this situation in Mark 10:41 (NASB) Hearing this, the ten began to feel indignant with James and John.
Jesus asserts in verse 38 that they don’t have a clue what they’re asking for. Little do they know that Jesus is about to ascend to the right hand of the Father in heaven. I daresay there is no room for them at Jesus’ left hand side. They do not understand the nature of Jesus’ ministry at the right hand of the Father as Jesus is constantly interceding for his disciples. And because of their lack of understanding Jesus asks them the question in verse 38 that concerns the nature of discipleship. Jesus asks them, “Is it within your capacity to follow me?” In the true sense of that word “to follow” Jesus asks them, “are you able to drink the cup that I drink? Can you follow Me?”
“Cup,” when it is symbolically used in the Old Testament typically carries the idea of God’s wrath. “Drinking the cup of God’s wrath; experiencing God’s wrath.” It always at least has the idea of something allotted to someone by God. The point then is this, “O disciple of Jesus, are you able to follow me as I am making my way up to Jerusalem to take on the wrath of God at the cross? Are you able to take up your cross and follow me?”
That seems to be the idea and of course “to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized” carries the same idea. And their bold response is verse 39 that, “we are able.” Really?! Because of the lack of the disciples understanding, this is like them saying “even if I have to die with you, I would never leave you.” Or, “even if everyone should fall way, I will not fall away!” It’s a claim that has no basis in reality. You are not able!
And Jesus’ response to their claim to be able to follow him in his death is that indeed they will drink and they will be baptized in the sense that they will follow him in this same fate. They will die a martyr’s death as Jesus did and also be received up into glory, but not apart from Jesus having yet to do a powerful saving work in their hearts. And Jesus simple response to their request is, … you are not able to follow me, but you will follow me because I will do that work in you and now Mark 10:40 (NASB) “But to sit on My right or on My left, this is not Mine to give; but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.”
To sit on either side of Him simply is not something that Jesus has the power to give away. And the other ten disciples aren’t exactly thrilled by these two brothers’ request of Jesus. They likely feel this indignation because they too desire the same position and have the same mindset of exercising power and having authority and having glory over other individuals. Verse 40, “How dare they ask for the glory that we all strive for too? How could they do that?”
TRANS: And it is to this concept of greatness, now, that Jesus turns in order to correct His misunderstanding disciples.
Jesus corrects the disciples’ notion of discipleship (10:42-45)
So Jesus has predicted his death and resurrection, the disciples responded to that with a misunderstanding about the nature of discipleship, and now thirdly, Jesus corrects the disciples’ misconception about discipleship.
What the disciples did actually understand was that they were requesting a high position with in Jesus kingdom. But what they did not understand was that within this kingdom, in Jesus’ kingdom, Jesus demands humble service to attain to attain a high position. A high position in Jesus kingdom is not something to strive for or to “wheel and deal” for. Jesus’ kingdom is not politically structured like that. To attain to a high position in Jesus’ kingdom demands humble service. And the disciples do not understand that. They are thinking with reference to this world in their conception of Jesus’ kingdom.
And what Jesus is going to emphasize in verses 42-45 is that humble service is required for those that are aspiring to greatness. Humble service is required for those that are aspiring to greatness. And the reason that humble service is required for those that are aspiring to greatness is, v.45, because of Jesus’ example at the cross. When Jesus dies on the cross, he sets the example of the kind of service required in his kingdom to attain to greatness. Humble service is required for those that are aspiring to greatness in Jesus’ kingdom.
First, in verse 42, Jesus contrasts greatness as it is found in the kingdoms of this world with greatness as it is found in the kingdom of Jesus.
Mark 10:42(NASB) 42 Calling them to Himself, Jesus *said to them, “You know that those who are recognized as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them; and their great men exercise authority over them. V.43… “but it is not this way among you….” For those with the KJV or NKJV, it should read “is” in your Bibles.
Those who are recognized as rulers in the political structures of the kingdoms of this world, …they dominate their subjects. The great men of high authority domineer over them. But followers of Jesus in Jesus’ kingdom don’t operate like this. “It is not this way among you.” It is not this way! That kind of thing categorically does not exist in My Kingdom, Jesus says.
So to fail in this way, to have politics within a local manifestation of God’s kingdom, in the local church, to have politics drive any local ministry is not simply to fall short of an ideal. To have politics drive a ministry really does describe the state of that ministry as being in total opposition to the nature of God’s kingdom. “It is not this way among you.” This is no light matter.
The political elite of the kingdoms of this world have authority over their subjects by the mere fact that they are in a high position. People in political offices can take advantage of political situations or issues in order to promote their own agenda or to orchestrate the demise of their opposition. They can deal with people in manipulative or devious ways in order to create their own destiny to the top of their field.
For this kind of thing to exist in the earthly manifestations of Christ’s kingdom today, in the church, is to demonstrate a condition that is totally antithetical to the nature of Christ’s kingdom. Where politics exists in a church that names the name of Christ, it can now be stated that that church is not a local manifestation of Christ’s kingdom. And we know that because Jesus says in verse 43 that this kind of politics that he talks about in verse 42, he says, verse 43, “it is not this way among you.”
For those who are Christ’s disciples it simply is not this way. Christ’s true disciples do not act toward one another this way. You will know that you have found a local manifestation of Christ’s kingdom, for one, when there is no political structure in that church that resembles the political structures of this world. “It simply is not this way among you….” It’s not that it must not be this way. No, Jesus says, it is not this way. That political structure does not exist in My kingdom, Jesus says. So if you find it in a so-called church, that is not My church, Jesus is saying.
So greatness is not ascribed to those who merely have a title next to their name, whether it be a title of pastor or elder or Sunday school teacher or deacon. Those in any place of recognized service in a church ought to be there, not because of their ability to wheel and deal and to make their way to the top. The local church does not exist to serve the leaders of the church or to boost their ego or to extend their power. In fact, if anyone does have a mindset that represents the political structures of the kingdoms of this world, he himself has demonstrated that he is operating within Christ’s kingdom in complete contradiction to the nature of that kingdom. And that man ought to be removed from his position.
Well, what is greatness in Christ’s kingdom then? Continuing in Mark 10:43 (NASB) “….but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant… and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all.
Both statements are quite similar. Verse 43, do you wish to be great? Okay, if you wish to be great then you’re going to be one of our servants. You will be serving all of us here. We will be able to see your service. The word servant there at the end of verse 43 is the word for deacon. The word for “deacon” is used in the Scripture of someone who waits on tables. Not exactly a high position.
And it is very much a paradoxical statement to say in verse 44 “whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all.” It’s kind of like a camel going through the eye of the needle; it just doesn’t seem to fit. But in Jesus’ kingdom, those who are servants and slaves of others, are worthy of highest position and greatness. And Jesus gives the explanation for why it works this way in verse 45. The reason it works this way, that in order to be first, you must be a slave of everyone and in order to be great, you must be a servant and the reason it works this way is because, verse 45, of Jesus example. To be great, you must be a slave of all because that’s what Jesus did, the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve.
His whole focus was to serve others, even though he has the highest position in glory, he has come down in human flesh to show us the epitome of a servant. This is exactly why there is no room for politicking in a local church. This is Paul’s teaching in Philippians 2 that because of the incarnation of God Himself, we should be humble and regard one another is more important than ourselves and not looking out for our own personal interests but also for the interests of others. How can we be self-centered in the church when God humbled himself to come serve us? That behavior runs completely contrary the nature of Christ’s kingdom.
And a particular service of Christ is focused on in verse 45 and that is that he came to serve specifically, end of verse 45, “to give his life a ransom for many.” Jesus gave his life as a ransom, that is, he gave his life as a payment to release us from the prison house of our sin. A “ransom” has reference to a bail payment to get prisoners of war out of jail. And so in a salvation context like this it is also used to refer to what Jesus did on the cross. This is His atonement. Jesus’ atonement was accomplished for us on the cross. We have studied that word atonement in the past and we noted that that has reference to what Jesus did on the cross to make us and God “at one.” The “at-one-ment” , the atonement of Christ, is Christ dying on the cross to make us one with God again, to reconcile us.
Jesus actively and willingly gave over his life on the cross and his death on the cross is actually effective to pay the penalty of sin and to release you from the prison house of your sin. His death is effective because of the very nature of him being the Son of Man. He is the divine Son of Man who has come to suffer for our sins and to be ruler over all the nations of the earth. And because of who he is and what he himself has done, we can have freedom from our sins. He himself paid the penalty for us. He is our substitution. He gave his life a ransom for all. He paid the price for everyone, so that everyone, through faith, might not have to pay the price themselves.
And so Jesus’ point here in verses 42-45 is to contrast greatness in the kingdoms of this world and greatness in the kingdom of God. Service is required for greatness in the kingdom of God. And the motivation for this greatness is also different than the motivation of this world. You can’t say, “Well, I want to be great in his kingdom, therefore now I will serve do menial tasks.” No, the motivation is not the actual greatness, but to be like Jesus. Verse 45, you serve and be a slave of all because the Son of Man has come to do this as well. Why should I serve? Because Jesus did. He’s our motivation.
So service in God’s kingdom is not just a matter of being moral and ethical in God’s sight. We do not serve just because it’s the right thing to do or because we want to be great in his kingdom. No, Jesus says our service is borne out of the motivation to be like him. And of course this motivation is not a feeling. You just pray and do, “Lord I want to serve you in everything and be like you.” You can pray that? Great, do it, don’t feel it!
So how will you know if someone has a high position in the kingdom of God? Will he have a title attached to his name? By no means is that necessary. You will know when someone has a high position in God’s kingdom if he serves like Jesus did. And for what reason did Jesus serve? He gave his life as a ransom for many. His life served the distinct purpose that others might receive freedom from the bondage of sin. So how will you know if someone has a high position in the kingdom of God? Is his life given over to others’ opportunity for receiving a ransom? That’s someone who is great in God’s kingdom.
So whether you are raising your children or working on your farm or building a business, is everything that you’re doing and possessing and accomplishing… Is it all given over for the sake that others might receive the ransom that Christ has provided? Do you raise your kids for the purpose of leading them to Christ and discipling them to serve the Lord for ever?
What we’re talking about here then is the true nature of discipleship. Are you being like Jesus? Are you following him as your example of giving over your life for the sake that all might receive Christ’s payment? Is this your life’s goal? This is the whole purpose of you going to work everyday? That the money you make and the people you work with and the “well done” you received from your boss… Does this all serve the purpose of one day receiving from Him who is in heaven “a well done, thou good and faithful servant?”
If it is, then your perspective on everything that you do is to be like Jesus and giving over your life for the sake of more people coming to Christ to receive that ransom.
And as we focus a little more tangibly on this next weekend, on doing this very thing, of giving over our lives for the ransom of many, will you do this for the Lord, to follow his example? Will you pray? And do you realize that thousands of people will receive God’s word in their mailbox or on their doorstep twice in one week? Let’s give our lives over for the sake of the ransom of many.
TRANS: So we’re talking about the true nature of discipleship. What does a true disciple look like? And that is what we have in verses 46-52 in the story of blind Bartimaeus.
Bartimaeus exemplifies discipleship (10:46-52)
Mark 10:46 sets up the story. And what we will find in this section is that blind Bartimaeus sees Jesus better than do the 12 disciples who have two good eyes. And this story is the last healing in the gospel of Mark. What we have in chapter 11 is the beginning of the last week of Jesus’ life. And so this story and this section serve as the culmination of Mark’s focus on discipleship, really all the way back from Mark 8:27.
Then they *came to Jericho. And as He was leaving Jericho with His disciples and a large crowd, a blind beggar named Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, was sitting by the road.
And now we learn in verse 46 that Jesus, the large crowd and his disciples are all they’re making their way to Jerusalem; they are leaving Jericho. And there’s that blind guy again, sitting on the side of the road. “By the road” there at the end of verse 46 is that special phrase we’ve noted previously. And it’s symbolic that Bartimaeus now is sitting on the side of the road, a cast out as it were, an outsider and not one of the followers of Jesus.
But this is all about to change. Soon, he’ll be on the road with Jesus. Bartimaeus in v.47 has great insight though he has no eyesight and he says Mark 10:47 (NASB) When he heard that it was Jesus the Nazarene, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”
His insight is the recognition of Jesus being the “Son of David.” And this title for Jesus harkens back to 2 Samuel 7:11-14 as well as Isaiah 11 in Jeremiah 33 where we have the promise that God would raise up a son from the line of David and “establish the throne of his kingdom forever.” And so the people of Israel were awaiting the Messiah who would be the Son of David. And so when blind Bartimaeus calls Jesus the Son of David, Bartimaeus is recognizing that Jesus is the promised Messiah to come. So this man believes in Jesus and he cries out to him!
And Bartimaeus knows that he is blind! He understands that he is unable to see, as it were, to see spiritually Jesus in a saving way. He knows that he does not have the salvation Jesus can provide and so he cries out to him for it. You can see that this is an example of coming to Christ in a saving way.
And even though, verse 48, “many were sternly telling him to be quiet,” and were attempting to prevent him from coming to Jesus, “he kept crying out all the more, ‘Son of David, have mercy on me!”
This constant crying out for Jesus to have mercy is an example of what people who know they need salvation from Jesus do. “You who know you are blind and need his salvation, cry out all the more the only One who can save you.”
And if you do that then Jesus will respond, verse 49 “and Jesus stopped.” And everything in Bartimaeus’ eternal existence hinges upon that. Bartimaeus cries out and Jesus stops and listens. “Call him” … call that man to Me.
Jesus is about to save this man. And by this example, Jesus demonstrates that the kingdom of God is not for those who are merely sincere in their faith, but it is for those who are desperate for Jesus. It is for those who are willing to shout louder for him to come and save.
And the disciples and the large crowd are merely in the way, a hindrance. Everyone who seeks to win the lost are merely in the way and a hindrance until Jesus calls the sinner to repentance. And when Jesus calls, you bring them to Christ. And they say to the blind man in verse 49, “take courage, stand up! He is calling for you.”
And the man doesn’t waste a second. The terminology in verse 50 describes a man of great enthusiasm. He “throws aside” that is he very quickly throws off his coat. And he, it says, …he jumps up and he rushes over to Jesus. And Jesus responds and he asks him a question… Which is the exact same question that Jesus asked James and John in verse 36. “What do you want me to do for you?” Whereas James and John in v.36 ask for fame, Bartimaeus merely asks to follow. The repetition of that same question emphasizes Mark’s focus on discipleship.
So now we see the great contrast between the disciples who are tagging along on the way to Jerusalem, but here we have a man, Bartimaeus, who really does become a true follower of Jesus. This man asks to regain his sight, calling him “Rabboni.” And this specific address is unheard of as being used toward an individual before now. Before this, this term in the ancient world was strictly used to address God in prayer. Bartimaeus is recognizing the very nature of Jesus; Jesus is the Lord.
So Bartimaeus recognizes Jesus Lordship and that he is the promised Messiah to come when he says “Son of David.” And he cries out to Him for mercy. This is all an example to us. You must believe that Jesus is the Lord, that he is God. You must believe that he is the Messiah, the promised one to come to pay the penalty of your sin on the cross. And you must cry out to him and keep on crying out to him that he might have mercy on your immortal soul.
And if you will do that, Jesus will say to you what he says to Bartimaeus in verse 52 literally it says, “go, your faith has saved you.” An obvious mix of terms there that helps us understand the symbolic nature of this story. If you have this faith in Jesus that Bartimaeus displays, that Jesus is God that he is the Lord, that he is the promised Messiah, and if you cry out to him to have mercy on you then it can be said then that “your faith has saved you.”
This is Jesus’ response to people like this.
Do you believe these things? Are you crying out to him in this way? This is Jesus’ response to you, “Your faith has saved you.” If that is his response to you, everyone will know it. Because you will have spiritual sight like Bartimaeus has physical sight at the end of verse 52 … “Immediately he regained his sight and began following him on the road.” We will all know if you received Jesus because you will be following Jesus on the way, that is, you will be truly following Jesus on the way of the cross. You will be following Jesus and you will have taken up your cross and followed him.
CONCLUSION What is the Meaning of Mark 10.32-52
So which one are you in this passage? Are you James and John and are coveting status and position? If you are, do you really understand the nature of Jesus’ kingdom and what it means to be a disciple of Jesus? Or perhaps you are blind Bartimaeus and you, by the mercy of Jesus, are no longer blind.
You must come to grips with this. Have you cried out to Jesus for mercy? Have you kept on crying out to him for mercy? If so, Jesus has listened. And he has called you. And so respond with enthusiastic faith like this man and believe that Jesus is the Lord and that he is the promised Messiah and tell him what you want because he is asking you, “what do you want me to do for you?” Don’t say you want glory in His kingdom. Tell him you want salvation, and mercy, and sight! And if you ask for that, Jesus will say to you, “Go, your faith has saved you.” And if you are laying claim to this then you will have obvious fruit of following Jesus on the way of the cross.
Jesus is leading, out in front setting His face like a flint to the cross. Are you following? If you are, then you’ll be able to sing hymn #548. Can you sing these words in all honesty?