Fifth Sunday of Lent
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32 And they were on the road, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking ahead of them; and they were amazed, and those who followed were afraid. And taking the twelve again, he began to tell them what was to happen to him,
33 saying, "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 deliver him to the Gentiles;
34 and they will mock him, and spit upon him, and scourge him, and kill him; and after three days he will rise."
35 And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came forward 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 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 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 supposed to rule over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men 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 the Son of man also came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."
32 Ἦσαν δὲ ἐν τῇ ὁδῷ ἀναβαίνοντες εἰς Ἱεροσόλυμα· καὶ ἦν προάγων αὐτοὺς ὁ Ἰησοῦς, καὶ ἐθαμβοῦντο, καὶ ἀκολουθοῦντες ἐφοβοῦντο. καὶ παραλαβὼν πάλιν τοὺς δώδεκα ἤρξατο αὐτοῖς λέγειν τὰ μέλλοντα αὐτῷ συμβαίνειν,
33 ὅτι ἰδοὺ ἀναβαίνομεν εἰς Ἱεροσόλυμα καὶ ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου παραδοθήσεται τοῖς ἀρχιερεῦσι καὶ γραμματεῦσι, καὶ κατακρινοῦσιν αὐτὸν θανάτῳ καὶ παραδώσουσιν αὐτὸν τοῖς ἔθνεσι,
34 καὶ ἐμπαίξουσιν αὐτῷ καὶ μαστιγώσουσιν αὐτὸν καὶ ἐμπτύσουσιν αὐτῷ καὶ ἀποκτενοῦσιν αὐτόν, καὶ τῇ τρίτῃ ἡμέρᾳ ἀναστήσεται.
35 Καὶ προσπορεύονται αὐτῷ Ἰάκωβος καὶ Ἰωάννης υἱοὶ Ζεβεδαίου λέγοντες· διδάσκαλε, θέλομεν ἵνα ὃ ἐὰν αἰτήσωμεν ποιήσῃς ἡμῖν.
36 ὁ δὲ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς· τί θέλετε ποιῆσαί με ὑμῖν;
37 οἱ δὲ εἶπον αὐτῷ· δὸς ἡμῖν ἵνα εἷς ἐκ δεξιῶν σου καὶ εἷς ἐξ εὐωνύμων σου καθίσωμεν ἐν τῇ δόξῃ σου.
38 ὁ δὲ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν αὐτοῖς· οὐκ οἴδατε τί αἰτεῖσθε. δύνασθε πιεῖν τὸ ποτήριον ὃ ἐγὼ πίνω, καὶ τὸ βάπτισμα ὃ ἐγὼ βαπτίζομαι βαπτισθῆναι;
39 οἱ δὲ εἶπον αὐτῷ· δυνάμεθα. ὁ δὲ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν αὐτοῖς· τὸ μὲν ποτήριον ὃ ἐγὼ πίνω πίεσθε, καὶ τὸ βάπτισμα ὃ ἐγὼ βαπτίζομαι βαπτισθήσεσθε·
40 τὸ δὲ καθίσαι ἐκ δεξιῶν μου καὶ ἐξ εὐωνύμων οὐκ ἔστιν ἐμὸν δοῦναι, ἀλλ᾿ οἷς ἡτοίμασται.
41 καὶ ἀκούσαντες οἱ δέκα ἤρξαντο ἀγανακτεῖν περὶ Ἰακώβου καὶ Ἰωάννου.
42 ὁ δὲ Ἰησοῦς προσκαλεσάμενος αὐτοὺς λέγει αὐτοῖς· οἴδατε ὅτι οἱ δοκοῦντες ἄρχειν τῶν ἐθνῶν κατακυριεύουσιν αὐτῶν καὶ οἱ μεγάλοι αὐτῶν κατεξουσιάζουσιν αὐτῶν·
43 οὐχ οὕτω δὲ ἔσται ἐν ὑμῖν, ἀλλ᾿ ὃς ἐὰν θέλῃ γενέσθαι μέγας ἐν ὑμῖν, ἔσται ὑμῶν διάκονος,
44 καὶ ὃς ἐὰν θέλῃ ὑμῶν γενέσθαι πρῶτος, ἔσται πάντων δοῦλος·
45 καὶ γὰρ ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου οὐκ ἦλθε διακονηθῆναι, ἀλλὰ διακονῆσαι, καὶ δοῦναι τὴν ψυχὴν αὐτοῦ λύτρον ἀντὶ πολλῶν.
Larger Thought Unit
Please read the comments made in the previous two Sundays. What is important about today’s reading is that it is the third passion prediction section and by far the longest and most detailed (Cf. 8.31-33 and 9.31). Jesus and his disciples are on the road going up to Jerusalem. Jesus again attempts to tell his disciples about the upcoming events, but the disciples again have no comprehension of what he is saying. In startling contrast two of the ‘pillar’ disciples, James and John, ask for places of power and glory in Christ’s kingdom. So on one hand there is the gospel of the suffering and crucified Jesus, and on the other hand the chosen pillars are seeking the gospel of power and honor. The setting allows Christ to explain in detail the nature of real discipleship and express his gospel of suffering and crucifixion. Notice again that this larger unit ends with the healing of the blind beggar, Bartimaeus (son of the highly honored one), who ‘gets’ the gospel message and quickly follows Christ ‘on the way’ to the cross.
James and John, the reputed pillars of the earthly Jerusalem (Gal 2:9), do not understand that, after his resurrection, the Lord Jesus will be enthroned in the new Jerusalem, where his Father rules exclusively:
For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. "For God has put all things in subjection under his feet." But when it says, "All things are put in subjection under him," it is plain that he is excepted who put all things under him. When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things under him, that God may be everything to every one. (1 Cor 15.22-28)
The Lord himself acceded to the heavenly Jerusalem only by having submitted to the will of his Father: “And going a little farther, he fell on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. And he said, ‘Abba, Father, all things are possible to thee; remove this cup from me; yet not what I will, but what thou wilt.’” (Mk 14.35-36) So, the place of honor is strictly in the hands of the master of the house, the Father of all. This makes the request of the ‘pillars’ unacceptable, since they would be honoring themselves. Ultimately only Christ is in the place of honor at the right hand of God.
Nevertheless, the Lord Jesus can show the way into his Father’s kingdom: to follow his example by drinking the same cup he does. Since he did so by “[having come] not to be served but to serve” (διακονηθῆναι, ἀλλὰ διακονῆσαι;10.45), his disciples are required to do the same.
The prime example of discipleship is that of Paul who, in spite of the fact that he had apostolic authority over his Gentile converts (1 Cor 9.1-5) and thus was “supposed to rule over the Gentiles,” “lord it over them,” and “exercise authority over them,” he decided to go the following way: “For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all (πᾶσιν ἐμαυτὸν ἐδούλωσα), that I might win the more… To those outside the law I became as one outside the law -- not being without law toward God but under the law of Christ -- that I might win those outside the law… I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.” (1 Cor 9.19, 21-22). Consequently, every disciple is asked to follow his example by being not only διάκονος (servant/minister) as Paul often referred to himself as apostle, but even “slave of all” (πάντων δοῦλος; Mk 10.44)
Paul Nadim Tarazi, New Testament Introduction, Vol.1: Paul and Mark, St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, Crestwood, NY, 1999; pp.199-200.