Jesus Came to Give His Life as a Ransom for Many

Mark 10:35–45

35 And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, come unto him, saying, Master, we would that thou shouldest do for us whatsoever we shall desire.
36 And he said unto them, What would ye that I should do for you?
37 They said unto him, Grant unto us that we may sit, one on thy right hand, and the other on thy left hand, in thy glory.
38 But Jesus said unto them, Ye know not what ye ask: can ye drink of the cup that I drink of? and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?
39 And they said unto him, We can. And Jesus said unto them, Ye shall indeed drink of the cup that I drink of; and with the baptism that I am baptized withal shall ye be baptized:
40 But to sit on my right hand and on my left hand is not mine to give; but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared.
41 And when the ten heard it, they began to be much displeased with James and John.
42 But Jesus called them to him, and saith unto them, Ye know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon them.
43 But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister:
44 And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all.
45 For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.

Elder Bruce R. McConkie wrote:

“Now Salome—the wife of Zebedee, the sister of the Blessed Virgin, the mother of James and John, the aunt of the Lord Jesus—with her two sons, the sons of thunder, who one day sought to call down fire from heaven upon certain persons in Samaria who rejected Jesus— these three, a mother and her two sons, came to Jesus in secret. They fell before Him in reverential worship; theirs was the sure knowledge, born of the Spirit, that the Man of Nazareth was the Holy Messiah who should reign on the throne of David forever.

“Knowing they desired something of Him, Jesus asked: ‘What wilt thou?’ Salome answered: ‘Grant that these my two sons may sit, the one on thy right hand, the other on the left, in thy kingdom’ [Matt. 20:21]. James and John uttered the same petition. ‘Master, we would that thou shouldest do for us whatsoever we shall desire,’ they said [Mark 10:35]. And when He responded, ‘What would ye that I should do for you[?]’ they repeated the plea of their mother: ‘Grant unto us that we may sit, one on thy right hand, and the other on thy left hand, in thy glory’ [Mark 10:36–37].

“The echo of Jesus’s voice, rebuking Peter when the Chief Apostle sought to make himself first in the kingdom of God, has scarcely stopped ringing in their ears. The message of the parable of the laborers in the vineyard—that all servants worthy of exaltation would be rewarded alike—is still part of their ponderings. And yet, filled with holy zeal and boundless ambition—as true saints should be, within proper limits—these intimates of the Lord asked for that which exceeded the bounds of propriety. ‘Jesus bore gently with their selfishness and error. They had asked in their blindness for that position which, but a few days afterwards, they were to see occupied in shame and anguish by the two crucified robbers. Their imaginations were haunted by twelve thrones; His thoughts were of three crosses. They dreamt of earthly crowns; He told them of a cup of bitterness and a baptism of blood’ [F. W. Farrar, The Life of Christ (1874), 517–18]. ‘Ye know not what ye ask,’ He said. ‘Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?’ Their answer, ‘We are able’ [Matt. 20:22].

“Then said Jesus: ‘Ye shall drink indeed of my cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with: but to sit on my right hand, and on my left, is not mine to give, but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared of my Father’ [Matt. 20:23]. As Jesus was baptized by John in Jordan to fulfill all righteousness, so for the same reason would all of the Twelve be baptized in blood, as it were, when the severity of the scourge, and the cruelties of the cross, and the sharpness of the spear fell upon them. James would be slain at Herod’s order and John would be banished to Patmos. The baptism of blood was indeed at their door.

“When the rest of the Twelve heard what Zebedee’s family sought, they were ‘much displeased with James and John’ [Mark 10:41], and Jesus, calling them all together, used the occasion to teach them how true greatness in God’s kingdom is gained:

“‘Ye know that they who are appointed to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you; but whosoever will be great among you, shall be servant of all. And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all.

“‘For even the Son of man came, not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many’ [JST, Mark 10:42–45].

“If Jesus came to be the servant of all; if He came to minister to the eternal well-being of all men; if He came to pay the ransom, by the shedding of His own blood, for the captive souls of men—then how ought His greater stewards and lesser servants labor in His vineyard?”

(The Mortal Messiah: From Bethlehem to Calvary, 4 vols. [1979–81], 3:313–15.)

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