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  • John Bryant

Mark 10: 32-45: Hallowed or Devoured By Offering


32 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.”

35 And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came up to him and said to him, “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.” 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.” 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.”

I argue that each day we make a journey from hearing through prayer toward what we offer. The point is, each day, to be carried along in Mercy’s solemn procession and arrive at the gracious offer of ourselves. That is the only thing we are to become, that there is to become, the gracious offer of ourselves the world as it is. We will always serve, serving is what we’re made for. Serving is about what we’ve been asked to offer the world so christ might be revealed to it.

It is so hard to arrive there, to get there. Each day we pass through the wilderness of experience: life’s alienations and temptations, uncertainties and complications, suffering and death.

Each day we pass through a screaming fog, a kind of shrieking commentary hanging over that wilderness so we cannot see it clearly: the mind’s intimidation, body’s anticipation, the devil’s condemnation.

It is our wounded soul that must make its way through that extraordinary wilderness and those shrieking commentaries.

Our soul is, of course, another way of talking about who we are, what we need to be okay: we are that need for recognition, rest, and meaning: to be seen, to be safe, to be fulfilled. And its wounds is its shame, fear, and it's despair.

A wounded soul is, of course, bound even further by the hardness of heart. The heart is a way of talking about what we’ll do to be okay, what we’ll trust in. The soul is a way of talking about what I am. The heart is a way of talking about what’s mine: my trust.

The hardened heart only means we are bound to the trust we have in ourselves.

Our soul, of course, needs a shepherd. It only has two: the Lord Jesus Christ and the hardness of our heart. The Lord Jesus Christ says he will see us, keep us safe, and give us meaning. My hardened heart says I will have to make myself seen, and safe, and give my life meaning.

The hardened heart will lead us deeper into shame, fear, despair. The shame, fear, and despair, will deepen our hardness of heart.

The Lord Jesus Christ will lead us out of shame, through fear, toward the joyful end of despair. The Lord’s recognition, rest, and fulfillment will cleanse our hardness of heart.

I can say I have felt my souls wounds in stage. It was first that I felt my soul’s shame. That was a hard thing. It was later that I felt my soul’s fear. It is this year that I’ve begun to confront its despair. What do I mean by despair?

That as my wounded soul is led in the wilderness I begin to feel a powerful dissatisfaction, a sudden revolt, a tremendous restlessness, a horrible unwillingness, a fierce resistance.

I know that it is not sin, it is a soul learning another way to be fulfilled. A soul learning painful renunciation. It’s just my wounded soul in the wilderness. It’s just my soul talking to me. In the wilderness we have to face ourselves. In the wilderness of experience that we face what we need to be okay and what we’ll do to be okay.

It’s nice to know, in this wilderness, what’s me: it’s deep need for recognition, rest, meaning. That need to be seen, to be safe, to be fulfilled.

And it’s nice to know, in this wilderness, what’s mine: my trust, my attention, my gentleness. A trust rescued by His Word [faith], attention shepherded by His Spirit [hope], and gentleness established in His Fellowship [love].

I’m learning, my wounded soul is learning: that Christ is the joy in offering, the meaning in offering. That the joy and grief and honor and challenge is in becoming the gracious offer of ourselves.

But the soul still asks in the wilderness: will I be hollowed or devoured by offering? Will I be depleted or fulfilled by offering?

I only know this, that we are headed toward offering, arriving at what we offer, that it is in offering that a clear note of joy is struck,


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