Easter, Holidays (Other), Suffering

Christ- the Suffering Servant

Originally published April 14, 2017

Isaiah 53

Who has believed what he has heard from us?
And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
2 For he grew up before him like a young plant,
and like a root out of dry ground;
he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
and no beauty that we should desire him.
3 He was despised and rejected by men,
a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
4 Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.
6 All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.
7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
yet he opened not his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
so he opened not his mouth.
8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away;
and as for his generation, who considered
that he was cut off out of the land of the living,
stricken for the transgression of my people?
9 And they made his grave with the wicked
and with a rich man in his death,
although he had done no violence,
and there was no deceit in his mouth.
10 Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him;
he has put him to grief;
when his soul makes an offering for guilt,
he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days;
the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.
11 Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied;
by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant,
make many to be accounted righteous,
and he shall bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many,
and he shall divide the spoil with the strong,
because he poured out his soul to death
and was numbered with the transgressors;
yet he bore the sin of many,
and makes intercession for the transgressors.

What a beautiful passage describing Christ’s suffering for us. Usually, when we think about suffering, we think about suffering we’ve personally experienced, things loved ones have been through, newsworthy events from around the globe, and natural disasters. And, as normal human beings in a broken, sinful world, that’s what we tend to do- we think of people, topics, and circumstances in light of our experiences with them or how they affect us. But as Christians, it’s imperative that, when we think of suffering, we look first to Christ, the Suffering Servant, and see all other suffering in light of His suffering.

Certainly, Isaiah 53 doesn’t cover every aspect or incident of Christ’s suffering, but let’s take a look at a few of these verses that prophesy – over 700 years before He was ever born – about the suffering of Christ.

Christ suffered physically
Most have read the Bible’s account of the crucifixion. But in the same way a verbal description of abortion doesn’t really capture the horror of the act the way a video can, our English words used in Isaiah 53 can’t adequately express the extreme physical suffering Christ endured on the cross. The cross was such an agonizing experience we had to invent a new word for that kind of suffering: excruciating. Ex– out of, cruciare– the crucifixion. Suffering drawn out of the cross.

So, how did Christ suffer physically?

Verse 5 says He was pierced, crushed, chastised, and wounded. Let’s take a closer look at those words:

Pierced– The Hebrew word means: “to wound (fatally), bore through” We see this with the crown of thorns that “bore through” Jesus’ head and the nails that pierced His hands and feet.

Crushed– The Hebrew means: “to be broken, shattered, beat to pieces” Interestingly, it can also mean “contrite”- He was contrite for our iniquities.

Chastisement– The Hebrew means: “discipline” as you would discipline a naughty child

Wounds/stripes– The Hebrew means: “a welt, blueness, bruise, hurt”

The flogging. The thorns. The pummeling He took from the soldiers. And carrying the cross to Calvary after all of that. Nails through His wrists, nails through His feet, the agony of trying to breathe, and, finally, the spear through His side. Jesus’ physical body took some of the worst abuse that’s ever been doled out by professional torturers.

Christ suffered emotionally
Jesus was a human being, just like you and me. That means he had feelings and emotions just like you and I do, and people and circumstances hurt Him just like they hurt us.

He was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. Jesus had loved ones die and friends betray Him and turn their backs on Him. He wasn’t immune to the hurts of life.

We esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. Stricken, smitten, afflicted- those aren’t words we use very often. What do they mean? Stricken is to reach out and touch someone. It’s the same idea as God striking someone down or striking someone with leprosy. Smitten by God– same idea, but with more of a judgment or punishment angle: “smite, chastise, send judgment upon, punish, destroy.” To be afflicted is to be “oppressed, humiliated, be bowed down.”

This phrase in verse 4 carries the idea that people thought Jesus had done something(s) that so displeased God that that God’s punitive hand of judgment was upon His life. Of course, that wasn’t true. Yet, there were people thought of Him that way and treated Him that way- at the cross, certainly, but also, to some extent, during His life.

And yes, that grieved Him as the God who loved and wanted to save these people, but, on the human side, well, we all know how it feels to be misunderstood and misrepresented. Christ felt those slings and arrows of the heart.

Christ suffered spiritually
When I say Christ “suffered spiritually” I want to be clear that I do not mean anything ever happened to Christ that marred His sinless perfection or in any way diminished His deity. What I mean is that He suffered due to fallen man’s sinfulness regarding theological or spiritual issues. For example:

He was despised and rejected by men…he was despised, and we esteemed him not. We see this constantly in the gospels. The Pharisees were always trying to trick Jesus and trap Him with difficult questions. They repeatedly accused Him of “working” on the Sabbath by healing people, picking grain and eating it, and so on. They plotted against Him. They tried to stone Him. Even at the end, when He was on the cross, Scripture says “they hurled insults at Him.”

And why? These aren’t just playground bullies picking on a random kid for no reason. They had a reason. And those insults the chief priests and scribes and elders hurled at Jesus in Matthew 27:42-43 sum up that reason pretty neatly:

He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he desires him. For he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’

Jesus was God. He was their Messiah. Yet these men didn’t want to humble themselves and admit it and bow the knee to Him. They looked Jesus in the eye – the God who loved them, created them, and breathed the breath of life into them – and said: We will not have this King reign over us! They despised and rejected the core of who Jesus was: Savior, King, Son of God.

But Jesus suffered in other spiritual ways, too…

The Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
[He was] stricken for the transgression of my people
His soul makes an offering for guilt
He shall bear their iniquities
He bore the sin of many

Christ carried our sin. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree… (1 Peter 2:24). There’s no way we could begin to fathom what it was like for Christ to carry every single sin of billions of people in His body. But He didn’t just have the weight of that sin on His shoulders, He also propitiated God’s wrath toward every single one of those sins. God poured out the cup of His wrath for our sin and Jesus drank every last drop of it.

Jesus suffered tremendously. How did He respond to all that suffering?

Christ’s Response to Suffering
Hebrews 2:17 tells us: Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect.

One of the ways Jesus was made like us, His brothers, was that He suffered. He suffered physically, He suffered emotionally, and He suffered “spiritually,” just like we do. In fact, He suffered far more in each of these respects than any of us ever have or ever will.

But what’s even more amazing to me than the actual extent of Jesus’ suffering was the fact that He endured all of it, from the moment of His birth to the moment of His death without ever sinning. Not even once. Not even in His thoughts or the attitude of His heart.

That’s huge. Think of the suffering you’ve experienced in your life and how you responded to it. I’ve retaliated against people who have hurt me, or at least harbored bitterness against them. During times of calamity, I’ve yelled at God, I’ve questioned His love for me, I’ve not trusted Him, I’ve been angry at Him.

But Jesus never had a sinful response to suffering. How did He respond?

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth.

When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. 1 Peter 2:23

In some cases, Jesus just didn’t respond at all to the person or situation causing the suffering. He communed with God instead. Jesus knew that He was in God’s hands and God would mete out judgment at the proper time.

But this is the same Jesus who instructed us to “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,” turn the other cheek, go the extra mile, give your cloak as well as your tunic. And Jesus certainly embodied these responses to those who caused Him suffering.

Let’s look at Jesus’ response to Pilate in John 18:33-38. But before we do, bear in mind that Jesus has the power to call down any number of angels to destroy Pilate, the courtyard where He’s about to be flogged, Calvary, Jerusalem, the whole world, if He wants to, in order to avoid the suffering He’s about to endure, and Jesus is fully aware of that. But watch how He responds to Pilate:

So Pilate entered his headquarters again and called Jesus and said to him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus answered, “Do you say this of your own accord, or did others say it to you about me?” Pilate answered, “Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered you over to me. What have you done?” Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.” Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” Pilate said to him, “What is truth?” After he had said this, he went back outside to the Jews and told them, “I find no guilt in him.

Jesus took the time to, essentially, share the gospel with this horrid man, whose next move was to have Jesus taken out and beaten to a bloody pulp. Jesus not only refused to retaliate against Pilate, He blessed him with the gospel instead.

When Jesus was on the cross, how did He respond to those who had crucified Him and those who were mocking and insulting Him? Did He yell back? Tell them they were all going to burn in Hell? No, He prayed for them: Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.

Every time Jesus suffered, He responded to it in exactly the right, godly way. He trusted Himself, the situation, and everyone involved to God, He loved His enemies, and He said or did whatever would best proclaim the gospel or glorify God in that situation.

It’s difficult to wrap our minds around all of the ways Jesus suffered, and more difficult still to comprehend that He never responded sinfully to His suffering. But perhaps the most baffling aspect of Jesus’ suffering is that He willingly chose to endure it all for rebellious, thankless, undeserving sinners like you and me. To serve us. To purchase the salvation we could never earn. To live the life we could not live. To die the death we could not die. And to conquer the grave that, for us, was unconquerable.

All hail King Jesus- the Suffering Servant.

Easter, Holidays (Other)

The Daily Wonder of Easter

Originally published April 1, 2014

“What should I preach about on Easter Sunday? Help me out, here.”

That’s the gist of a tweet I saw recently from a pastor. It caught me quite off guard, and it must have had the same effect on many others who punctuated their excellent advice –“preach the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ for our sins”- with lots of “duh’s” and other indications that this should be a no-brainer for a Christian pastor.

Traditionally, the prevailing line of thought about Easter (and Christmas) services has always been, “This is one of the two times a year that a lot of lost people go to church. It might be our only chance to reach some of them. Let’s make sure we give them the gospel.” Maybe after so many years of that, some pastors feel that their church members have heard it all before and they need to move on to something else in order to keep people’s attention. Sometimes, as a pastor, it’s tough to know just what to do to best reach people for Christ.

But, see, the thing is, Christians never move past our need for hearing the gospel again and again. Young or old. Newly saved or seasoned saint.

We need the gospel.

Christians never move past our need for hearing the gospel again and again. Young or old. Newly saved or seasoned saint. We need the gospel.

We need it because we forget. We forget that we are great sinners in need of a great Savior. We forget to slow down and pour out our gratitude and worship for the sacrifice of our beautiful Savior. We forget to bask in our wonder, our amazement, at His glorious and triumphant resurrection.

As Christians, every day our sin sick souls need to bow at the cross and be washed afresh in the precious, atoning blood of Christ. What can wash away my sin? Nothing –nothing– but the blood of Jesus.

Every day our sin sick souls need to bow at the cross and be washed afresh in the precious, atoning blood of Christ. What can wash away my sin? Nothing -nothing- but the blood of Jesus.

Daily, we must approach the tomb, see the massive stone rolled away and shout with joy over its emptiness. Hallelujah! Death has lost its victory and the grave has been denied! The very reason we worship on Sunday instead of Saturday is the celebration of an empty tomb. Every Sunday is Easter Sunday.

Remember, and rejoice!


Originally published at Satisfaction Through Christ.

Easter, Holidays (Other), Top 10

Top 10 Best Easter Songs

Originally published April 3, 2015

There are so many great Easter hymns and worship songs out there. After all, how can a songwriter go wrong proclaiming the glorious truth of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection? It was hard to narrow it down to my ten favorites, but I gave it a shot.

I’ve created a YouTube playlist with these songs called Resurrection Day. Got a favorite song about Jesus’ resurrection? Suggest it, and maybe I’ll add it to the playlist!

(Please note- I am not familiar with all of these musicians. Their presence here is not an endorsement of any unbiblical theology any of them may hold to. Please thoroughly vet the doctrine of any Christian musician you choose to follow and make sure it matches up with Scripture.)

1.
Jesus Paid it All

Nominated by my 11 year old son, who said in the car on the way home from church, “They need to do ‘Jesus Paid it All’ next week, because it is a very appropriate Easter song.”

2.
Arise My Love

The grave could not hold the King!

3.
Low in the Grave He Lay

You’re not really a Southern Baptist unless your church does this one every Easter.

4.
The Old Rugged Cross

What a precious song this is and what a beautiful job this family does on it. (Us Louisianans know how to sang!)

5.
Sunday’s On the Way

The resurrection is not an allegory for your personal problems coming to an end. Other than that, this is pure 80’s “in your face, Devil!” CCM awesomeness.

6.
The Wonderful Cross

Who ever thought something so horrific could be so beautiful? But it is.

7.
Man of Sorrows, What a Name

Hallelujah, what a Savior!

8.
He’s Alive

The resurrection through the eyes of Peter. Oh how sweet it must have been for him to see Jesus alive again.

9.
I’ve Just Seen Jesus

I love singing this one with my husband.

10.
Christ the Lord is Risen Today

He is not dead. He is alive. We have this hope in Jesus Christ! This arrangement is such a nice blend of the traditional and the contemporary.

He is risen! He is risen, indeed!

Happy Easter everyone!

Mark Bible Study

Mark: Lesson 23

Previous Lessons: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22

Mark 15

And as soon as it was morning, the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council. And they bound Jesus and led him away and delivered him over to Pilate. And Pilate asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” And he answered him, “You have said so.” And the chief priests accused him of many things. And Pilate again asked him, “Have you no answer to make? See how many charges they bring against you.” But Jesus made no further answer, so that Pilate was amazed.

Now at the feast he used to release for them one prisoner for whom they asked. And among the rebels in prison, who had committed murder in the insurrection, there was a man called Barabbas. And the crowd came up and began to ask Pilate to do as he usually did for them. And he answered them, saying, “Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?” 10 For he perceived that it was out of envy that the chief priests had delivered him up. 11 But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have him release for them Barabbas instead. 12 And Pilate again said to them, “Then what shall I do with the man you call the King of the Jews?” 13 And they cried out again, “Crucify him.” 14 And Pilate said to them, “Why? What evil has he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Crucify him.” 15 So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified.

16 And the soldiers led him away inside the palace (that is, the governor’s headquarters), and they called together the whole battalion. 17 And they clothed him in a purple cloak, and twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on him. 18 And they began to salute him, “Hail, King of the Jews!” 19 And they were striking his head with a reed and spitting on him and kneeling down in homage to him. 20 And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the purple cloak and put his own clothes on him. And they led him out to crucify him.

21 And they compelled a passerby, Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to carry his cross. 22 And they brought him to the place called Golgotha (which means Place of a Skull). 23 And they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it. 24 And they crucified him and divided his garments among them, casting lots for them, to decide what each should take. 25 And it was the third hour when they crucified him. 26 And the inscription of the charge against him read, “The King of the Jews.” 27 And with him they crucified two robbers, one on his right and one on his left. 29 And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads and saying, “Aha! You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, 30 save yourself, and come down from the cross!” 31 So also the chief priests with the scribes mocked him to one another, saying, “He saved others; he cannot save himself. 32 Let the Christ, the King of Israel, come down now from the cross that we may see and believe.” Those who were crucified with him also reviled him.

33 And when the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. 34 And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” 35 And some of the bystanders hearing it said, “Behold, he is calling Elijah.” 36 And someone ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink, saying, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to take him down.” 37 And Jesus uttered a loud cry and breathed his last. 38 And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. 39 And when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God!”

40 There were also women looking on from a distance, among whom were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome. 41 When he was in Galilee, they followed him and ministered to him, and there were also many other women who came up with him to Jerusalem.

42 And when evening had come, since it was the day of Preparation, that is, the day before the Sabbath,43 Joseph of Arimathea, a respected member of the council, who was also himself looking for the kingdom of God, took courage and went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. 44 Pilate was surprised to hear that he should have already died. And summoning the centurion, he asked him whether he was already dead.45 And when he learned from the centurion that he was dead, he granted the corpse to Joseph. 46 And Joseph bought a linen shroud, and taking him down, wrapped him in the linen shroud and laid him in a tomb that had been cut out of the rock. And he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb. 47 Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses saw where he was laid.


The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.


Questions to Consider

1. Study verses 1-5. Who was Pilate, and what was his position? What crime had the Sanhedrin decided Jesus was guilty of in Mark 14:64, and what sentence was to be carried out as His punishment? What did Levitical law say about this crime, its sentence, and how that sentence was to be carried out? Did the Sanhedrin follow this law? If the Sanhedrin was so concerned about Jesus breaking God’s law, why did they break God’s law by failing to carry out the death sentence according to the law? Why did they take Jesus to Pilate to enforce the death penalty instead?

2. Describe the scene in verses 6-15 in your own words. What motivated Pilate, the chief priests, and the crowd to do and say the things they did and said? What can you surmise about the personal character of Pilate, the chief priests, and the crowd? What part did power and position play in this part of the story? What part did both Jews and Gentiles play in this part of the story? What was Pilate’s perception of Jesus in verses 1-15? Where were the disciples during all of this?

3. Examine verses 16-20. Take a look at the footnote on verse 16. How many soldiers gathered around Jesus? Why were they mocking Him, and what did the mocking center around? Who created the thorn bush (17), the reed (18), the spit (18), and the soldiers themselves? When was the last time you used something for sinful purposes that God created for good?

4. In Gethsemane, Jesus rebuked Peter for fighting back against the arrest mob, saying, “Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels?” At any step along the way – in Gethsemane, in His mock trial before the Sanhedrin, when judged by Pilate, when abused by the soldiers – Jesus had the power, and plenty of justification – as Creator of the universe and of the people mistreating Him – to turn Jerusalem into a crater. Why didn’t Jesus fight back or defend Himself? What does this teach us as Christians about laying aside our own rights, when necessary, for the sake of the gospel?

5. What impact did Christ’s crucifixion have on Rufus, and later, his mother (21)? The centurion? (39) Did everyone who witnessed the crucifixion become a Christian? Why or why not? Would the chief priests have believed Jesus was the Messiah and become His followers if he had come down off the cross? (31-32) Compare Rufus’ and the centurion’s belief in Christ with the mockers’ and chief priests’ disbelief. (21, 39, 29-32)

6. The mixture of wine and myrrh (23) was meant to be an anesthesia. What are some of the side effects of anesthesia? Why did Jesus refuse it?

7. What was the official charge against Jesus? (26) In what ways was this true? (2) In what ways was this false?

8. What were the mockers referring to in verse 29? What was the irony of their statement? (29-30)

9. What was the “curtain of the temple“? (38) What was the significance of its being torn, and its being torn from top to bottom?

10. Compare the scattering of the disciples with the gathering of the women (40-41) at the cross. How might their staying with Jesus through the crucifixion have been a comfort and encouragement to Him? How might witnessing the crucifixion have been a blessing to the women and emboldened their witness for Christ in the coming years? How can these women’s faithfulness to Christ serve as an example to us as Christian women today?

11. What position did Joseph of Arimathea hold? (43) Why would Joseph have needed to “take courage” with regard to approaching Pilate? (43) With regard to his place and reputation in the Sanhedrin? Why would it have been dangerous or detrimental to be seen as an associate or ally of Jesus?

12. Among those who deny that Christ’s resurrection actually happened are people who argue that on Easter morning, the women who found Jesus’ tomb empty had actually gone to the wrong tomb. How does verse 47 refute this theory?


Homework

Explain the events of Mark 15 in your own words as you would explain them to someone who has never heard the story of Christ’s crucifixion. Ask a lost friend or loved one to let you “practice” on her, if possible. As we saw in question 5, among those who were eyewitnesses to the crucifixion, some believed in Christ, and some did not. It is the same when we share the gospel today. Why do some believe the gospel and some don’t? List three ways grasping this truth can help as you share the gospel.


Suggested Memory Verse

And Pilate asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” And he answered him, “You have said so.” Mark 15:2

Mark Bible Study

Mark: Lesson 15

Previous Lessons: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14

Mark 10:32-52

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, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death and deliver him over to the Gentiles. 34 And they will mock him and spit on him, and flog him and kill him. And after three days he will rise.”

35 And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came up 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 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 considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones 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 even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

46 And they came to Jericho. And as he was leaving Jericho with his disciples and a great crowd, Bartimaeus, a blind beggar, the son of Timaeus, was sitting by the roadside. 47 And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 48 And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” 49 And Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart. Get up; he is calling you.” 50 And throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. 51 And Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” And the blind man said to him, “Rabbi, let me recover my sight.” 52 And Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him on the way.


The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.


Questions to Consider

1. In verse 32, why would the disciples and others following Jesus have been “amazed” and “afraid” that He was heading to Jerusalem? (Hint- Examine verse 32 in light of Mark 8:31. Where was the “headquarters” of the elders, chief priests, and scribes located?) Why do you think he took the Twelve aside to explain things instead of telling the whole crowd? (32)

2. Re-read verses 32-34 as though you were one of the disciples, then as though you’re a first century Gentile. How would you understand and respond to what Jesus is saying here? How might a disciple’s understanding and response have differed from a Gentile’s? How many times is this now, in Mark, that Jesus has predicted His death and resurrection?

3. Examine verses 35-45. What did James and John have to already believe about who Jesus was, His authority, position, etc., in order to make the request they made in verse 37? How was this request a demonstration of their knowledge of and faith in Christ and their ignorance (38-40) at the same time? What might have motivated them to make this request?

4. In verse 38, is Jesus talking about a literal drink and cup and a literal water baptism, or is this a metaphor for what He has just explained to the disciples in verses 33-34? When James and John replied, “We are able,” (39) do you think they were speaking more out of haughtiness, loyalty to Christ, or ignorance of what the “cup” and “baptism” would entail? How might the other 10 disciples have answered that question? (41) Considering some of the things that happened to both James and John during the church era, what did Jesus’ statement to them in verse 39 mean?

5. Summarize in your own words the main point Jesus was trying to get across to the disciples in verses 42-45. What would it have meant to first century Jews and Gentiles – for whom servants and slavery was a normal part of daily life – to hear that humility, self-abasement, and serving others is what God considers great? In what ways – then and now – is this the complete opposite of the world’s mindset? In what ways has the worldly mindset (of being “great” or “first”) crept into the church? How does 1 John 2:15 fit in this situation? In what practical ways, in your church or individually, could you follow Jesus’ example that He “came not to be served but to serve”? In addition to giving His life for our sins, what are some ways Jesus served others during His earthly ministry?

6. Study verses 46-52. Consider Bartimaeus’ social status as a blind beggar. (46,48) What did Bartimaeus have to offer Jesus for his healing? How do Jesus’ words and actions toward lowly Bartimaeus demonstrate what He taught the disciples in verses 42-45? In Lesson 14 (link above) we saw another group of people rebuked and sent away from seeing Jesus as Bartimaeus was. Who were those people? How does Jesus usually respond in the gospels when the disciples try to send away those they think aren’t important enough to see Jesus or would bother Him? What does Jesus’ compassion and willingness to be associated with the lowly tell us about the nature and character of God?

7. What were some things Bartimaeus already knew about Jesus that caused him to call out to Jesus? What else (51) might Bartimaeus have heard about Jesus that motivated him to approach Him? What are some adverbs (timidly, loudly, tentatively, persistently, etc.) you could use to describe the way Bartimaeus cried out and came to Jesus? (47-48,50-51) Why did Bartimaeus call Jesus “Son of David” (47-48)? How did this indicate Bartimaeus’ faith (52) that Jesus was the Messiah? Did Bartimaeus do any of the work of his healing, or did Jesus do all the work? How did Bartimaeus’ response to his healing (52) serve as proof of his faith?

8. What are some of the aspects of Bartimaeus’ story in 46-52 that serve as a reflection of the way Christ saves sinners? Think about Who initiates salvation (46, 49), how the sinner comes to Christ as a blind beggar with nothing to offer Him (46), hearing the gospel, understanding who Jesus is and what He can do for sinners (47-48), Christ’s call (49) and the sinner’s response (50), our confession of faith in Christ to save us (51), the fact that salvation is totally dependent on, and performed by, Christ- we contribute nothing (52), and our response to God graciously saving us (52).

9. Compare and contrast the way Bartimaeus came to Christ with the way the rich young ruler came to Christ in Lesson 14 (link above). How were their social statuses different? How were their needs similar? In what attitude of heart did each approach Christ? How did each respond to Christ? Do you know anyone who has responded to the gospel like the rich young ruler did? Like Bartimaeus did? What about your own response to Christ’s call to salvation- was it more like the rich young ruler or Bartimaeus?


Homework

Go to the website of one of the larger U.S. Christian retailers (LifeWay, Mardel, Parable, etc.) and examine their book selection in light of verses 42-45. Are there more books on leadership, success, growing a large ministry, etc., or more books that would seem to match what Jesus is teaching in this passage: servanthood, anonymity, humility, thankless work? Think of one anonymous way you could serve your church, a neighbor, a co-worker, a family member, or a friend this week, and follow in Christ’s footsteps of serving rather than being served.


Suggested Memory Verse

“For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Mark 10:45