This is the first in a series of posts I’m planning on my version of “DVD Extras”. I’m trying to find a place to put some of the thoughts and notes I edited from my sermon series through the Gospel of Mark. With that series I have a specific purpose in each sermon (covering a larger section of text to get the big idea or theme) so some stuff I have to edit out for fear it would take me off point. Still, these are insights that were a blessing to me and I hope are a blessing to the 2-3 of you that might read them here. :)
Days before Jesus would be arrested and crucified He foretells of these events to His disciples. James and John (possibly two of the younger disciples) are unmoved and instead make a very audacious request of Jesus- “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory” (Mark 10:37). In my third of three sermons on Mark 10 I talked at length about Jesus’ response to James and John particularly regarding suffering as part and parcel with being His disciple. He humbled them. However there was one comment Jesus made that I didn’t have time to flesh out but is a beautiful insight into the doctrine of the Triune God. In verse 40 Jesus says, “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.” The parallel to this verse in Matthew 20:23 is more descriptive, “To sit at my right hand and at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.”
Jesus made it clear to them that God has prepared whatever is received eternally and God determines what we receive according to His sovereign prerogative. This is an excellent example of the functional distinction between the three persons of the Trinity. God is one being, one essence who manifests Himself in three distinct and simultaneously present persons- Father, Son, and Spirit. Each person of the Godhead carries out distinct functions. The Father did not die on the cross, the Son did. Likewise the Son does not determine kingdom rewards, the Father does. This information is given that the disciples would have a higher view of God and in contrast a lower view of man (in keeping with the context of discipleship as humble servanthood). When we open God’s Word we are to see how He reveals Himself and not for how our self-seeking nature wants to see God and how we can get things from God.