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" And what was the end goal of his service to man? To die on the cross and release all from their many sins and grant forgiveness to them through His own death. To believe that -- that Christ died on the cross for us and arose again to sit on his throne -- is to be His disciple. And that was the service that Christ performed. And that leads us directly to Verse 10:45 as the core of this Gospel. With Mark's purpose in mind, as we have discussed, there could be no more key verse in his writings than this one.
It is fascinating that Mark chose to conclude his Gospel with the story of Bartimaeus, the blind man, who cries out to Jesus: "Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me!"(v.47). The title he gives to Jesus, "Son of David" immediately proclaims Jesus as who he really is, and all this from a blind man, who evidently sees Jesus for his real identity more clearly than the disciples or the crowd, or, for that matter, many of us today. Those with Him, who have witnessed Jesus' power and miracles, do not have the faith of the blind man who can't see anything. This is exactly the faith Mark is calling upon all Christians for -- the belief that Jesus came only to serve the many, and that service -- to give his life for our sins -- and our own faith in that fact, as the blind man had, makes us His disciples (Karris, p. 925).
Most scholars agree that Mark's primary source of information about Jesus was Peter -- the one Jesus loved. Some would even say that Mark's Gospel is simply his version of Peter's personal testimony. Due to the fast pace of it, the prominence of Peter in the text, and its similarity to Peter's writings, this view seems relevant and possible.
All of this lends credence, of course, to what Mark has to say and the urgency with which he says it. Peter, after all, was as close to Jesus as any of the disciples could hope to be. His knowledge of the humanness of Christ and his ministry was, most probably, unprecedented. For that reason, Mark's Gospel has been labeled by many Bible scholars as the most dynamic book in the Bible (Carter).
The book was written around the time of the fall of Jerusalem -- when Christian communities were suffering severe persecution. When Jerusalem fell, it destroyed the Jews' identity and their confidence in what they believed. So, at a time when the community needed hope, Mark chose to provide it. Turn to Him, Mark said, and here's why. And it also explains why he "cut out the fluff" and got right to the ministry of Jesus. This Gospel is Christ in action.
Christ is presented as miracle worker and servant. Much of Mark's urgency is aimed at describing the disciples themselves, who demonstrated clearly that they just didn't get it when it came to true faith in who Jesus was. They so lacked commitment that they abandoned him during his dire time of need in the Garden of Gethsemane (Carter). They truly didn't get it until Christ died on the cross for them and arose again to appear before them -- his work for them as their servant to forgive their sins and make them believe, thus, finally, becoming true disciples at the Pentecost and going forth and preaching the Good News. Once, again, we point to verse 10:45 as the key verse as it applied to the original disciples. This band of "keystone cops" as some scholars describe the 12 disciples became pillars of the faith with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and dedicated their lives to the Lord -- each one martyred for the firmness of their faith. They, finally got it. Had it not been for Christ's service to them, his death on the cross and his resurrection, the Gospel would not have been spread. And Christianity would have died.
Thus, the significance of verse 10:45 and the why Peter and Mark declared it with such urgency.
"Ransom" in Mark 10:45 was used in Jesus' time for the money paid to free a slave or a prisoner. Jesus was aware that he was going to pay a big price for spreading his Father's word around and satisfying the reason he was here in the first place in human form. Suffering, being rejected, being killed, betrayal, being mocked, spat upon, flogged are just a few of the "punishments" Jesus knew were in store for himself. His service to us cost him big time.
In the Garden of Gethsemane, just before his arrest, Jesus gave deep thought and prayer to this cross he was asked to bear. He was distressed, troubled, and overwhelmed with sorrow. (Mark 14:33.34) Yet his determination to serve in a way that was necessary to the completion of his mission overcame his temptation to back out. He wanted to do what his Father willed him to do (Salter).
His crucifixion challenged the people of Mark's time and challenges us today who wish to become His disciples. It could be tough on us too, and many back in Mark's time were persecuted and killed for their belief in Christ. Mark did not tell us it would be the easy way. In verse 10:45, he said we must be willing to suffer as Christ did for us (Salter).
Remember that the context of Mark's verse 10:45 is the discussion Christ had with James and John, sons of Zebedee regarding their request to sit at his right and left hand in his heavenly kingdom. And Jesus responded that they did not know what they were asking of him. He asked them if they could accept the kind of suffering (sacrifice) He would have in order to sit again in the Father's kingdom. In ignorance, and in greed to sit at his side, they said yes they could.
Jesus then explained to all the disciples that whoever desired to be served and to be great must first be a servant and a slave of all. Then he tells them: "For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." Now they understood, as we do, the cup that Jesus would have to drink from for us. (Mark:35-45)
Carter, J.W. "A Perspective on the Distinctiveness of mark's Gospel." 2003. biblicaltheology.com. 25 February 2010
Cole, R.A. The Gospel According to Mark (Tyndale New Testament Commentaries). Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2007.
Gill, J. "Mark 10:45." 2010. biblestudytools.com. 23 February 2010
holybible.com. "Summary of the Books of the Bible." n.d. holybible.com. 23 February 2010
Karris, R.J. The Collegeville Bible Commentary: New Testament, Based on the New American Bible. Collegeville, Minnesota: Liturgical Press, 1992.
MacRory, Joseph. "Gospel of Saint Mark." 1910. newadvent.org. 23 February 2010
Mark, John. "The Book of Mark." Various. The NIV Study Bible. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 1985. 1490-1531.
Salter, C. "Christ as Servant, as presented in Mark's Gospel." n.d. colinsalter.net. 25 February 2010
Wilson, R.F. "5. Love -- the Core of Christianity." n.d. jesuswalk.com. 23 February 2010
Zondervan. "The Book of Bible, Mark." 2010. biblica.com. 23 February 2010
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