Mark 10:32-52 Exploring the Passage

Below are some preliminary questions to assist in the study of this passage. For a comprehensive study of the passage, download the Study Guide (PDF download).

1. As Jesus led the way up to Jerusalem, why do you think the disciples were astonished? Note Luke 9:51 (printed below)

As the time approached for him to be taken up into heaven, Jesus resolutely set his face to go to Jerusalem. (Luke 9:51)

The disciples were astonished by Jesus’ resolute determination to go up to Jerusalem (Luke 9:51), even though He knew what awaited Him there, namely, His trial and crucifixion (note Mark 10:33-34).

2. What do James and John request Jesus to do for them? See Mark 10:35-37 (printed below) What does their request, coming at this time, tell us about them?

Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came near to him and said, Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we shall ask you. (36) He said to them, What do you want me to do for you? (37) They said to him, Grant that we may sit with you in your glory—one at your right hand and one at your left hand. (Mark 10:35-37)

James and John ask Jesus to allow them to sit with Him in His glory, occupying the highest positions, one at His right hand and the other at His left. Their request reveals both their insensitivity to Jesus and all that He is about to suffer. It also reveals that self-ambition was a very dominant force in their lives.

3. What is the reaction of the other disciples when they learn of James and John’s request (see Mark 10:41 printed below?) How would the counsel of Galatians 5:26 (printed below) apply to James and John?

Now when the other ten disciples heard about this, they began to be indignant against James and John. (Mark 10:41)

Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other. (Galatians 5:26)

When the other disciples heard about James and John’s request, they began to be indignant against them. According to Galatians 5:26, conceit and self-ambition have a very detrimental effect upon those around us.

4. In contrast to the thinking of the world, what is the way to true greatness in the kingdom of God? See Mark 10:42-44 (printed below)

Then Jesus called them to himself and said to them, You know that those who are recognized as rulers among the Gentiles lord it over their subjects; and their high officials rule over them with tyranny. (43) But it must not be like that among you. On the contrary, whoever desires to be great among you, shall be your minister; (44) and whoever desires to be first among you, shall be servant of all (Mark 10:42-44)

In the eyes of the world, attaining a position of prestige and power, as a result of pursuing a course of self-ambition, is considered a success. In the kingdom of God, the one who willingly assumes the role of the lowliest servant will be exalted to the highest position.

5. Jesus declares that “the Son of man came…to minister (i.e.; to assume the role of a servant).” How does Jesus set an example of ministry and service for us in this passage? See Mark 10:36 and 46-52 (printed below)

He said to them, What do you want me to do for you? (Mark 10:36)

Then they came to Jericho. Now as Jesus was leaving Jericho, along with his disciples and a large crowd of people, a blind beggar, named Bartimaeus, (whose name means, the son of Timaeus), was sitting by the roadside. (47) When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out, Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me. (48) But many people rebuked him, ordering him to keep quiet. But he cried out all the more, Son of David, have mercy on me. (49) Then Jesus stood still and said, Call him. So they called the blind man and said to him, Take courage. Get up; he is calling for you. (50) Throwing aside his garment, the blind man leaped to his feet and came to Jesus. (51) Then Jesus asked him, What do you want me to do for you? And the blind man said to him, Rabbi, I want to receive my sight. (52) Jesus said to him, Go your way; your faith has healed you. Immediately he received his sight, and followed him along the road. (Mark 10:46-52)

Twice in this passage our Lord takes the role of a servant and offers Himself in service to others. He puts Himself at the disposal of His beloved friends and disciples when He asks James and John, “What do you want me to do for you?” (verse 36). He then puts Himself at the disposal of the poor blind beggar, Bartimaeus, when He asks him the same question, “What do you want me to do for you?” (verse 51).