Date of Award

2017

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (Christian Scripture) - MA (CSc)

Department

Theology

First Advisor/Committee Member

Laura C. Sweat Holmes, Ph.D., Associate Professor of New Testament

Keywords

Bible Mark x 35-52; Bible Mark x 35-45; Bible Mark x 46-52; Prayer, Petitionary—Biblical teaching; Prayer, Petitionary—Christianity; Desire—Religious aspects—Christianity; Detachment (Christianity); Self-denial; Self-surrender; Self-sacrifice; Suffering—Biblical teaching; Suffering—Religious aspects—Christianity; Will of God; Authority—Religious aspects—Christianity; Power (Christian theology)—Biblical teaching; Christian life; Bartimaeus (Biblical figure); James, Saint, Son of Zebedee, Apostle; John, the Apostle, Saint

Abstract

The gospels are replete with examples of individuals who approach Jesus with a specific request. Not only are these requests welcomed, but Jesus also instructs his followers on the importance of asking (Matt. 7:7-11; Luke 11:9-13). However, we also see in the gospels that not every request that is brought to Jesus is answered affirmatively. Why, then, the emphasis on asking? Does making requests of Jesus play a larger role than simply receiving or not receiving that which has been requested?
This thesis examines two accounts from the gospel of Mark where Jesus is approached with a specific petition. One of these accounts is the story of a blind man named Bartimaeus, whose encounter with Jesus leads to the fulfillment of his courageous plea (Mark 10:46-52). The other is the story of the Sons of Zebedee, who likewise approach Jesus with a bold request. In this case, the petition made by the disciples is not fulfilled in the manner they expect (10:35-45). Both accounts serve to reveal the nature of God’s authority in Jesus. In both accounts, the ones making the request are invited into greater participation in God’s plan of redemption.
This thesis presents the expression of desire as a critical task of the disciple in participating in God’s work of restoration. Making requests of Jesus places one in a posture to receive greater revelation of the nature of Jesus’ authority (as seen in the Sons of Zebedee) and to receive of his power to restore (as seen in the story of Bartimaeus). It also argues that the expression of desire is to be coupled with a second crucial task: the relinquishment of any right to earthly power. Through examining these stories, this paper argues that asking is not only important, but crucial, in order to follow Jesus to the cross where God’s work of restoration results in a complete reordering of power.

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