Mark 10:32-52

The Savior’s Answer

Mark 10:32-52



As we continue our study of Mark’s Gospel, we are back in Mark chapter 10. This chapter covers that period in Jesus’ messianic mission in which Jesus left Capernaum and began making His way to Jerusalem. During this trip, it is becoming apparent to many that His messianic ministry is coming to its climax. In “going up to” Jerusalem (referring to the climb to city on the hill), Jesus is setting the stage for a final conflict with the religious leaders of Israel. This final conflict will lead to Jesus’ death and His resurrection from the dead three days later.


As we saw last week in Mark 10:17-31, a wealthy young man sought out Jesus and asked him: “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” Having realized from Jesus’ answer that they can do nothing to save themselves, our passage — the balance of Mark 10 — will show that the disciples continue to struggle with their master’s words.


Let us read the first portion of tonight’s text (vv. 32-34).


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.”


Let us pray. Dear heavenly Father, this is Your Word. We know that all Scripture is given by inspiration from You and is profitable for doctrine, reproof, instruction, and correction in the way of righteousness, so that the man of God might be thoroughly equipped for every good work. So equip us, then, O Lord, as we now study this, Your Word, together. In Christ’s name, we pray. Amen.


I love to visit museums. I find great joy in going from exhibit to exhibit, reading every word of every sign. My insatiable appetite to learn enables me to spend hours in a museum and not finish going through every exhibit hall. To no one’s surprise, my family hates to visit museums – with me! They like to quickly go from exhibit to exhibit stopping only at the few that catch their attention.


The passage before us can be likened to a museum. If we were to follow my pattern of visiting a museum, we would be in this text for at least three or four weeks. Unfortunately, one of my anti-museum family members wants us to quickly sail across this passage. As such, I will not spend any significant time looking at true greatness, the nature of the atonement, or a consideration of biblical service (which was done several weeks back). Rather, I am going to consider Jesus’ prophecy, the disciples prayer, and a beggar’s plea. Then I will conclude with a comment on a question — “What do you want me to do for you?” (vv. 36, 51) – which is asked of two different audiences. A prophecy, a prayer, and a plea.


A Prophecy

First, let us consider the prophecy.


We learn in Mark 10:32 that Jesus’ mission will indeed take him all the way to Jerusalem. Knowing that this is where Jesus was heading, the scene as described by Mark is very sober. There is already great tension between Jesus and the Jewish religious leadership. People have witnessed this on a number of occasions and they understand that if Jesus goes all the way to Jerusalem, there will be conflict. Mark notes this great tension in the first part of verse 32:And they were amazed, and those who followed were afraid.[10]


We need to be clear that this is not a circumstance in which Jesus suddenly decides to head south on a whim – “oh, let’s go to Jerusalem, we haven’t been there yet.” Rather, this is part of Jesus’ plan. And it is His solemn determination to make the trip (despite the risks) which creates the sense of awe, amazement, and anxiety. [10]


Mark tells us of another reason why the tension level has increased. They are confused. According to the latter part of verse 32: “And taking the twelve again, he began to tell them what was to happen to him…On two previous occasions, Jesus had tried to tell His men that He was sent to this world to die (Mark. 8:31; 9:31). Yet, the disciples were not able to fully comprehend His message. Jordan has on two occasions explained how they stumbled on this fact — If Jesus is truly the Messiah, how is it that He will suffer and die? The Jews were looking for the Messiah, a military leader, not a man who gets Himself executed. The disciples simply have no category for reconciling Jesus’ messianic kingship with His role as the suffering servant.


So, for the third time, Jesus explains to the twelve what was about to happen. This time, Jesus does so in the most exacting detail. He tells His disciples that His future involves: [1]


  • Rejection (vs. 33)
  • Ridicule (vs. 34)
  • Regicide (vs. 34) – referring to “the killing of a king”
  • Resurrection (vs. 34)


How did Jesus know these things? There are two answers. First, Jesus is God! He knows these things are about to take place because they are part of the plan He developed. Second, He knows these things because He had read the Old Testament. Everything Jesus tells His men in these verses was prophesied of the Savior before He ever came into the world. I said that to say this, if you want to know the mind of God, read His book! He has all the information you need to know for both life and death in the pages of His Word, the Bible. [1]


A Prayer

That is the prophecy. Let us now consider the prayer.


In Mark 8, Jesus told them that they had a cross. They were to deny themselves, take up their cross, and follow Him. It continued in Mark 10 when Jesus told them for the third time that He would go to the cross. Despite repeated teachings, they didn’t understand what the cross meant for Jesus and they didn’t understand what the cross meant for them. This is highlighted by James and John.


  1. Notice the selfish petition. [1]

James and John approach Jesus asking: “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. The right hand seat was reserved for the person who was second in rank, while the left hand seat was reserved for the person who was third in rank. These men saw themselves as the leaders among the disciples and they wanted their positions made permanent. They were literally asking for three things. They wanted:

  • They wanted the glory and honor that came from being elevated to a throne.
  • They wanted to be close to Jesus in the Kingdom.
  • These men wanted to have positions of great authority in the coming kingdom.


  1. Notice the somber proclamation. [1]


“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.”


Jesus responds to the selfish petition by telling them that they have no idea what they are asking for. He asks them by asking them if they are willing and able to experience all that He is about to endure. They tell Him that they can. But these men do not understand what awaits Jesus. These men would ultimately walk the same road that Jesus walked, but they could never endure what He was about to suffer. Jesus tells them that positions in the kingdom would not be given out based on selfish ambition, but according to the will of sovereign God.


  1. Notice the spiritual pattern. [1]


“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.”


Jesus is saying that in the kingdom over which He reigns greatness is obtained by pursuing a course of action which is the exact opposite of that which is followed in the unbelieving world. It is an inverted pyramid. The Lord wants us to know that the path to the top leads through the bottom. Jesus uses His impending sacrifice as the ultimate example of sacrificial service. We learn something very important about Jesus here. He sets the pattern all of His people are commanded to follow. He did not come to be served, He came to serve.


While time will not allow us to consider a detailed study of the nature of the atonement — verse 45 is too important to pass by without making a couple of brief comments. First, notice that Christ “gave His life.” Christ’s death was a voluntary self-sacrifice. Second, Christ’s death was a “ransom.” It was “in place of” or “in exchange for.” It is the basis for the theological term — substitutionary atonement (see also 1 Peter 1:18-19). Third, Christ’s death was “many.” Not in the place of all but of many. Who these many are is clear from such passages as Matt. 1:21, John 10:11, Acts 20:28, Romans 8:32-35, or Eph. 5:25 to name a few. However also, not in the place of a few but of many — without any distinction as to race, nationality, class, age, sex, etc. (See Rom. 10:12-13, 1 Cor. 7:19, Eph. 2:14-18, Col. 3:11, or 1 Tim. 2:6). What a Savior!


Now, we’re very good at criticizing James and John. But if we’re honest: which of us is any different than James and John here? If we want to succeed, we must measure ourselves by this spiritual pattern. And the first way we ought to measure ourselves is to measure our prayers. This might seem strange to you, but if you look at verse 35, it is essentially a prayer. Notice:

  • They know who to petition. Likewise, we know that our petitions must be made to the Lord.
  • They know that they can boldly make petitions (Matthew 7:7-8). Likewise, we know that we are encouraged to boldly approach the Lord when making a petition.
  • They know that the one petitioned can answer their request. Likewise, we know that the Lord can answer our petitions. Matthew 21 tells us: “And all things, whatsoever you ask in prayer believing, you shall receive.”


Unfortunately, the nature of their request is also similar to the nature of our prayers:

  • They come and thunder a request. They ask: “We want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” (How many of you parents have had children ask you – “If I ask you to give something, will you give it to me?” What is your natural reaction? You put your hand over your wallet? You look to hide your purse! You refuse to agree to such a “blank check” request!) James and John effectively ask: “We want You to do what we want!” How about some of our prayer requests? Are they as selfish? Are they as presumptuous? Are they as outrageous?
  • They wanted to be at either side of the Lord Jesus in His eternal kingdom. The Lord said: “That’s not mine to give at this moment.” How about some of our prayer requests? Do we always get what we ask for?
  • They wanted special benefits. The Lord said: “Are you prepared to endure what it will take to receive these benefits?” How about some of our prayer requests? Do we really know what we are asking for?


So, what was the real problem with the request of James and John? The real problem was threefold.[5] There was a problem with the basis of the request, the motive of their request, and the details of their request. Let’s take each of these and see how these apply to our prayers.


The basis of their request was a problem because prayer always has to be according to God’s will. That’s part of what it means when Jesus said: “Ask anything in my name.” When we ask in His name we’re asking upon His authority and His authority is the declaration of His word. So the basis of our prayers must be according to God’s will.


The motive of their request was a problem. The apostle James talks of this in chapter 4 verse 2: “‘You have not, because you ask not.” Well, that can’t be said of these two boys, because they were asking, and they were asking very boldly. But this is more their case: “You ask, and receive not, because you ask amiss.” You ask for the wrong reasons, you ask with the wrong motivation, “that you may consume it upon your lusts.” You ask selfishly! What we do does not matter to God, and what we pray does not matter God, as much as why we do, and why we pray. Just as water cannot rise higher than its source, prayers can never rise higher than the motives that inspire them.


The details of their request was also a problem. The cross comes before the crown. The suffering is before the glory. The pain is before the reward. This is why the Lord Jesus said at the beginning of verse 38: “You don’t know what you’re asking!” Now, if ever there was a lesson in prayer, it’s that one. We need to be careful what we ask God for. We tend in prayer to focus on the end? What about the means? How’s God going to get you there? We all want the crown, the glory, and the reward. We forget about the journey. We forget about the cost.


A Plea

That is the prophecy and the prayer. Now let us consider the plea.


Jesus is on His way to Jerusalem. As He moves steadily in that direction, He is surrounded by people who cannot understand Who He is. The Jews are blind to Who He is, though He tried to tell them and show them on many occasions. The disciples are blind to Who He is, though they have seen Him demonstrate His identity time after time. [4]


On this particular day, the roads of the city were jammed with pilgrims. All of Israel was on their way to Jerusalem for the Passover and the road through Jericho was one of the main routes to the Temple. People crowded along the roads to see Jesus as He passed through. The people might not have known exactly Who He was, but they knew He was someone special and they turned out to see Him as He passed by. [4]


As I look out over this congregation this evening, I am reminded again of the truth that not everyone who came in here tonight can see. Oh, your eyes work fine. You didn’t have to rely on a white cane, a seeing eye dog, or someone with vision to assist you this evening. However, there are those that simply cannot see. Though they can see the world around them, they cannot see the truth of God’s love and plan for their lives. Why? They are blind spiritually. This evening, I intend, from this passage, to help you see that Jesus is who you need. [3]


“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.”


Notice three things about this story.


  1. Condition [4]

First, notice Bartimaeus’ condition.

  • He was blind (verse 46). Here is a man who might never have seen a sunrise or a sunset. He might never have seen the smile on a baby’s face. He might never have seen the beauty of God’s creation. Bartimaeus lived in a world of darkness. (Comment to children.)
  • He was a beggar (verse 46). Bartimaeus was not able to go out and find a job. There were no social programs and no welfare programs to help him survive. He was forced to sit beside the road and beg for his living. He was totally dependent upon the generosity of others in order to survive. His was a pitiful and wretched condition!


In his condition, Bartimaeus is a good portrait of every person who is outside Jesus and lost in sin. Like Bartimaeus who was physically blind, the lost person is spiritually blind (2 Cor. 4:4; Eph. 4:18; Rom. 3:11). They are blind to their condition, to their sin, and to their impending eternal doom. Like Bartimaeus, the lost person is also a spiritual beggar. They can do nothing, and they have nothing within themselves to produce salvation. They are simply sitting by the highway side begging as Jesus passes by.


  1. Cry [4]

Secondly, notice Bartimaeus’ cry.

  • It was particular.Bartimaeus didn’t call out to anyone and everyone who passed by on the road. It isn’t enough to know you have a need; you must also know who can meet that need.He focused his attention on only one person.[9] (Note:The importance and power of faith is found entirely in its object.)


Before a lost person can call out to the Lord for salvation, they must first understand just Who He is. They must see Him as their only hope. They must understand that He alone can save their souls and forgive their sins. They must see that Jesus is more than a teacher or some poor fellow Who got Himself killed on a cross. They must come to understand that He is the Son God. They must see that He died for their sins. They must see that He rose again from the dead. (Romans 10:9)


  • It was personal.Bartimaeus cries to Jesus and says, “Jesus, thou son of David, have mercy on me.” Did you notice that Bartimaeus did not try to demand his “rights”? Bartimaeus knows that he is no position to demand anything. He is seeking “mercy”. Bartimaeus knew that he needed something he could not provide and had no right to demand. He cried out to Jesus asking for help for his wretched condition!


I read about a lady who went to a photographer one day and had her picture made. When the photographer showed her the proofs, she was very unhappy. She said: “Well, I don’t like that! Those proofs don’t do me justice.” He said: “Ma’am, what you need is not justice. What you need is mercy!


We have women’s rights, civil rights, children’s rights, gay rights, and every other kind of right imaginable. When it comes to spiritual things, we do not want “rights”. If we got what we deserved, we would be in Hell today. We have no right to Heaven. We have no right to Jesus. We have no right to salvation. We have the right to live a lost, wretched life and we have right to an eternity in Hell. We do not want our rights! We want mercy (and grace)! (Eph. 2:4; Titus 3:5)


  • It was persistent. Bartimaeus is calling out to Jesus and he is raising a ruckus. The people try to silence him. They threatened him and said in effect, “You better shut your mouth blind man! Don’t bother Jesus! He’s too busy for the likes of you!” Bartimaeus didn’t care about any of that. He didn’t care that his shouting was annoying the crowd surrounding Jesus. He had one chance, only one, to see and he wasn’t going to let anyone or anything stand in his way of making contact with Jesus. [9]


You know, Jesus never went this way again. He would never be in Jericho again. He would never be on this road again. If Bartimaeus had heeded the people who were telling him to be quiet, if he had allowed Jesus to pass, he would have been without mercy forever. Likewise, it may well be for some of you, that Jesus is passing by you tonight. Tell Him you want to become a Christian. Tell Him you want your sins forgiven. Tell Him you want to be born again. Tell Him in case He never passes by this way again. [12]


  1. Cure [4]

Thirdly, notice Bartimaeus’ cure.


It is personal. Jesus heard the cry of Bartimaeus and He stopped in His tracks. He is on the way to the cross but He still takes time for one blind sinner! What a Savior! Imagine how Bartimaeus must have felt. Day after day he sat by this road. The people pass by and most of them simply ignore him. Yet when Jesus asks him what he wants. Bartimaeus responds in faith and asks for healing. He wants to see. And he is healed! It is instantaneous and it is powerful.



In closing this evening, I want to look at the question that Jesus asks of James/John and Bartimaeus – “What do you want Me to do for you?” It is not accidental for Mark to place these stories back to back in his gospel. There is something(s) that he wants us to see.


The contrast is stark. James and John answer with a selfish petition – “Grant us that we may sit, one on Your right hand and the other on Your left, in Your glory” (vs. 37). Bartimaeus answers with a request for mercy – “Son of David…Have mercy on me” (vs. 47). We see that the motivation of James and John was that of pride. We see that the motivation of Bartimaeus was that of brokenness. We see that the attitude of James and John was a sense of a worthy right – they believed they had a right to the position beside Christ in His coming kingdom. We see that the attitude of Bartimaeus was that he had no rights. We see that the disciples were blind and couldn’t see it. Bartimaeus knew he was blind and that he needed sight!


We who want to know Christ and follow Christ need to learn what Paul said: “That I may know Him” We want that. “…and the power of His resurrection…” We want that. But Paul goes on to say: “… and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death.” We don’t want that! James and John wanted power and glory. They did not want a cross. The disciples are blind, even as the Lord Jesus goes to the cross, 15 miles away from Jerusalem. We will see that it is not until after the resurrection that the disciples’ eyes are opened about the whole plan of the cross and resurrection. In fact, He urges the two on the Road to Emmaus “‘O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?” (Luke 24). But Bartimaeus, though he was literally blind, had inner eyes to see. He calls Jesus: “Rabboni,” which means “Master.” Twice he calls Jesus the “Son of David,” a national messianic title. He – Bartimaeus, not the disciples — understood who Jesus was and what he had to ask of Jesus. He – a blind man, not the disciples – called out to Jesus in faith. May we be so blind and demonstrate as much faith.


Closing Prayer

Let us close in prayer. Father, we pray that we will understand, that I will understand, what it means to be truly crucified with Christ, what it means to have true glory, have true success, have true achievement, have true greatness. It is when I die, and His glory shines from me, through me, and to Thee. Lord, for those whom this is for, may they receive it, and may it make a change. Amen.



[1]    Alan Carr, “And Jesus Went Before Them” (Mark 10:32-34)

[2]    Alan Carr, “The High Cost of Finishing First” (Mark 10:35-45)

[3]    Alan Carr, “Bartimaeus: A Blind Man with 20/20 Vision” (Mark 10:46-52)

[4]    Alan Carr, “What’s a Poor, Blind Beggar to Do?” (Mark 10:46-52)

[5]    David Legge, “God’s Qualification Of Greatness

[6]    David Legge, “A Real Eye-Opener

[7]    Bryn MacPhail, “Greatness Explained” (Mark 10:35‐45)

[8]    Bryn MacPhail, “Jesus, Our Servant?” (Mark 10:45 & Selected Scriptures)

[9]    Robert S. Rayburn, “A Representative Disciple” (Mark 10:32-52)

[10]  Kim Riddlebarger, “A Ransom for Many” (Mark 10:32-52)

[11] Derek W.H. Thomas, “Crossways” (Mark 10:32-45)

[12]  Derek W.H. Thomas “Lord, Have Mercy” (Mark 10

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