On the way to Jerusalem, between two healings of blind men (in chapters 8 and 10), Mark repeats this pattern three times: Jesus reveals his destiny; the disciples misunderstand what that means; Jesus reorients them to the Gospel. Soon they will arrive in Jerusalem where there is no turning back from the cross.
The Sunday lectionary omits the third revelation occurring just before today’s scene with James and John. Jesus has just told the Twelve that in Jerusalem he will be handed over to the authorities and killed, but after three days he will rise (10:33–34). Right then, James and John ask for places of honor in Jesus’s glory. Given the omitted lectionary passage, it’s hard to tell what the brothers thought they were asking for.Mark repeats this pattern three times on the way to Jerusalem: Jesus reveals his destiny; the disciples misunderstand what that means; Jesus reorients them to the Gospel. Click To Tweet
On the cusp of our own no-turning-back moments, none of us really understands what we are asking for. We learn what it means to be parents not through books or classes but by going through the day-by-day epiphanies, missteps, and do-overs. We grasp the true meaning of marriage only after many years of better and worse. Baptism is not the end but the beginning of an ever-deeper immersion into Christ’s death and resurrection.
We understand the paschal mystery in which we participate only by handing ourselves over to it and submitting our entire life to serve as Jesus served.