Service and Sacrifice

The Gospel of Mark – Part 37

Service and Sacrifice – Mark 10:32-45

Mosaic Rockford – Dave Spooner – May 31st, 2020


  • Jesus just finished His encounter with the rich young ruler who turned away from following Jesus because he was unwilling to fully surrender all that he was and all that he had.  In the kingdom of God, “many who are first will be last and the last first” (Mark 10:31).
  • Jesus continued His resolute march toward Jerusalem to all that awaited Him there.  In our text for today, we will learn from both the actions and teaching of Jesus what He came to do, our desire to follow Him, and the true pathway to greatness.  His convincing and convicting teachings are given to guide you in both the motive and the method of what it means to follow Christ. 

The mission of the Messiah

Mark 10:32-34 ESV

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.”

  • Jesus was leading His disciples and His followers up to Jerusalem.  I love how it says “He was walking ahead of them.”  He was leading them and willfully walking into the place where He was going to be betrayed, brutally beaten, and tortuously crucified.  He was walking toward this. He was not running in the other direction, or being dragged to His fate. Jesus was not running away from His mission but intentionally leading them to Jerusalem.  This amazed His disciples. Jesus told them what was going to happen in detail, and the details were difficult, and they were amazed at His determination and willingness and resolve to head in the direction of these things.
  • The crowd that was following along was fearful because they knew that in going to Jerusalem, there would be trouble and it may not end well.  This was the seat of power for their religious community and government.  This was the big city with increased power, pressure, and people, and they were afraid that this could cause conflict.
  • Jesus knew what was going to happen, and He knew how bad it was going to be.  He did not deny or downplay the seriousness of the suffering.  However, He included in His description of the events that were to come, what was going to happen at the end.  “And after three days he will rise.”  Looking toward the result and reward of suffering and servitude will help empower you to willfully give of yourself through service, sacrifice, and suffering.     

Heb 12:1-2 ESV

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

  • It was the joy that was set before Him that gave Him the motivation to endure the cross. He would accomplish His mission by laying His life down in the most horrific of ways, knowing that the joy that awaited Him would be far greater than any sacrifice and suffering He would endure. 
  • This is the great motivation of the Christian faith.  We follow Him and become like Him knowing that He is worthy of our everything and that with Him there is greater joy and life everlasting.  So therefore, as those who have gone before us as a “great cloud of witnesses,” we in turn lay aside every weight and sin and run the race that is set before us, and we are to do so with endurance, with our eye fixed on Jesus, who is the founder and perfecter of our faith.
  • As Jesus had His eyes fixed on the finish line, His disciples were looking to position themselves for places of honor. 

The desire of the disciples

Mark 10:35-40 ESV

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.”

  • Matthew records that James and John had their mother with them and that she asked Jesus the question about her sons (Matt. 20:20-22).  In each passage Jesus addresses the sons, so we know that they were the ones who were behind this question (even though they may have thought that by having their mom ask on their behalf they would have better success getting what they wanted). 
  • How they asked the question reveals what they thought. They thought that because Jesus was their teacher, their friend, and one who serves, that He had the power to give them what they wanted.  Because they were close to Him, they thought that Jesus would use His power to give them what they wanted.
  • Jesus responded by saying that these positions were not granted but earned.  And they did not know what they were asking for, because in order to be qualified for one of these positions, it would mean that you would have to suffer through service and surrender.  It was not their closeness to Christ, their theological insightfulness, nor their personal popularity or power, but their willingness to serve and to suffer in following Him that would qualify them.  They would have to “drink the cup” that Jesus Himself would drink.  Also, they would be baptized with the baptism of fire, the baptism of commitment, and the baptism of calling that He had. 
  • They said that they were willing to do so, and Jesus responded to them that indeed they would.  But even in doing so, Jesus did not have the final word on these positions.  He Himself was under the will of His Father, and ultimately, they were to serve the will of God.  God Himself was the one who had the power of appointment.  Also, God knew who was going to sit in these seats because they were prepared beforehand for those who were to sit in them. 
  • The way to obtain these positions was to be qualified for them by service and suffering and then to by selected for them by the Father.  Notice that Jesus did not scold them for their desire but corrected their thinking as to the process for these positions.  

The service of the slave

Mark 10:41-45 ESV

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.”

  • What Jesus was upset about (indignant – much displeased) was that His followers would keep people from coming to Him (Mark 10:14).  What the disciples were upset about (indignant – much displeased) was where they would be placed in proximity to Jesus, in positions of power (Mark 10:41).  Tragically this continues to happen to this day. The pathway to follow Jesus is to be a servant to all and a slave to God. Our way is to gain position, possessions, and power.  In our flesh we are concerned about being served, but in Christ and in the Spirit, we need to be about serving others. 
  • According to the flesh and the word, those in positions of authority will “Lord it over others.” This is the way of the world, and this will always be its way.  But as citizens in a higher Kingdom, it should not be that way with us.  If you want to be great, then be a servant. If you want to be first, then you must be slave of all.  This is the way of Jesus and this is the way of the Cross. He came not to be served, but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many. (Verse 45 is what many consider the key verse of the Gospel of Mark).  This why Jesus came.
  • Oh if this was our aim and our mission, that we would enter every conversation and have every action motivated by the desire to serve others.  This is the true essence of what it means to be like Christ and to follow Him.  And this means that you do what He wants you to do. This means that you lay down your life for others. It will cost you, but remember, no matter the cost, the joy will far outweigh the sacrifice. 
  • Having faith means that you live for the higher reward, that you give yourself in service to others as a slave to God, that His will is your highest priority, and that His will would be done as it is in heaven. 


  • Understand the mission of the Messiah, that He resolutely chose to give Himself as a servant. He chose to sacrifice Himself to the most horrific of sufferings because of His highest goal of doing the will of the Father and because of His faith in knowing there would be the greatest of joys at the end.
  • Be aware of your desires and let them be submitted to God and His will for your life.  Choose the way of the servant, choose to be a slave of God and look to do His will by placing the will of the Father at the forefront of your mind and by giving yourselves in service to others.
  • Closing prayer.