[Mark 10] Jesus Travels to Jerusalem: In this chapter Jesus is making His way toward Jerusalem knowing that crucifixion and death await Him. Along the way, He speaks to the disciples about divorce and remarriage, about poverty and wealth and gives demonstration that tells us much about receiving a miracle when it is needed in our lives.
[Mar 10:1-52 KJV] 1 And he arose from thence, and cometh into the coasts of Judaea by the farther side of Jordan: and the people resort unto him again; and, as he was wont, he taught them again. 2 And the Pharisees came to him, and asked him, Is it lawful for a man to put away [his] wife? tempting him. 3 And he answered and said unto them, What did Moses command you? 4 And they said, Moses suffered to write a bill of divorcement, and to put [her] away. 5 And Jesus answered and said unto them, For the hardness of your heart he wrote you this precept. 6 But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female. 7 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife; 8 And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh. 9 What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. 10 And in the house his disciples asked him again of the same [matter]. 11 And he saith unto them, Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her. 12 And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery. 13 And they brought young children to him, that he should touch them: and [his] disciples rebuked those that brought [them]. 14 But when Jesus saw [it], he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. 15 Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein. 16 And he took them up in his arms, put [his] hands upon them, and blessed them. 17 And when he was gone forth into the way, there came one running, and kneeled to him, and asked him, Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life? 18 And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? [there is] none good but one, [that is], God. 19 Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Defraud not, Honour thy father and mother. 20 And he answered and said unto him, Master, all these have I observed from my youth. 21 Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me. 22 And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions. 23 And Jesus looked round about, and saith unto his disciples, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God! 24 And the disciples were astonished at his words. But Jesus answereth again, and saith unto them, Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. 26 And they were astonished out of measure, saying among themselves, Who then can be saved? 27 And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men [it is] impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible.
In chapter 10 we find Jesus has travelling to the coasts of Judea on the far side, the eastern side of the Jordan, and the crowds follow Him to hear His teachings. The Pharisees, ever challenging Him in their jealousy over His popularity bring a question to Him about divorce. Now the Saduccees, who didn’t believe in life after death had questioned Him about heaven (which they didn’t believe in), and now the Pharisees as a question of Him that was culturally sensitive, hoping to snare Him in His words in order to have something to accuse Him regarding. This question as well is still a minefield today in Christian circles due to its sensitive nature and the controversy surrounding divorce that rages today just as it did in ancient times.
The Pharisees point out that Moses gave an allowance in the law regarding divorce whereby a man could write a simple document and put his wife out of his life. Jesus doesn’t give a direct answer to their question, but rather declares to them that Moses wrote this provision because of hardness of heart. The passage in question is found in Deut. 24:1-5. Some suggest that the wording here implies that Jesus is saying that Moses made this provision and that it wasn’t actually something done under divine inspiration (in other words, that De. 24:1-5 doesn’t actually belong in the bible, or that it is as some allege regarding Ecclessiastes, an inspired record of an uninspired saying).
Beyond the commentary on Moses’ allowance of divorce for hardness of heart, Jesus shifts the focus from the dispensation under the law to the original state of man in innocency saying that “from the beginning” divorce is not what God had in mind. In other words, if man had not sinned in the garden, but remained in a state of innocence, that divorce would not exist among men. If, under the law divorce was allowed for hardness of heart, then we can only conclude that hardness of heart is part of the sin condition. Whatever the reasons are for divorce, they ultimately originate as a condition arising from the sin state.
Many will bring this up and say “well, my spouse was unfaithful…” but let us remember that God commanded Hosea to marry and remain faithful even under the law to a prostitute who was unfaithful for many years, perhaps for the entire duration of the marriage, yet Hosea never put her away. In reality the sexual transgression Jesus refers to as the allowance for divorce actually had to do with not being able to prove the virginity of a betrothed before the marriage was consummated, implying that after the marriage was consummated there was no allowance for divorce whatsoever. This however is blithely ignored by modern theologians who want to allow some room for an alleged righteous divorce from the stand point of a rigid religious legalism.
Finally, still others take the words of Jesus and suggest that to divorce and remarry outside the allowances they provide for in their interpretation of scripture, results in the divorced and remarried couple living in a state of perpetual adultery. This then, would constitute divorce and remarriage a defacto unforgiveable sin, and now who is demonstrating hardness of heart? Suffice to say that in view of the fact that the divorce rate is lower among athiests than professing Christians that the high road here is one of humble self-examination and not shrieking condemnation of those who don’t measure up to the standard we choose to adopt.
In verse 13 Jesus receives several little children that the parents have asked Him to touch and bless, but the disciples are offended and attempt to drive them away. Jesus was very unhappy at this hardened attitude and insists that the children be allowed to come to Him because they are the very heart of what He is looking for in the kingdom. He goes on to say that unless we emulate the receptiveness, shamefacedness and meekness of little children that we will in no way enter the kingdom.
In verse 17 another man comes running to Him, falling at His feet and calling Him “good Master”. Jesus rebukes the man saying “why are you calling Me good… there is none good but God…” This is an enigmatic statement because we believe and the scriptures clearly teach that Jesus is God in the flesh. We can only conclude that Jesus knew that the man was looking at Him after His human condition and not perceiving or aware of the God part of Him on the inside. It is reminiscent of the words of Paul saying we know no man after the flesh but after the Spirit. Jesus goes on to answer the man’s question about inheriting eternal life. The man so impressed Jesus with his answers that verse 21 says Jesus looked upon him and loved him, and actually invited him to go and sell his possessions and come and be a 13th disciple. The man was very sad and would not, and Jesus marveled declaring it was harder for a rich man to enter the kingdom than to go through the eye of a needle. Is Jesus repudiating wealth, or advocating that we all embrace poverty? Pay attention to the comments that followed: In v. 26 the disciples are astonished at Jesus’ remarks and ask who then can be saved. Why did they ask this? Because they all wanted to have a measure of wealth, and many of them were wealthy in their professions before Jesus called them. Jesus answer is not that that wealth was to be rejected but rather with men (v. 27) what is impossible with God all things are possible.
28 Then Peter began to say unto him, Lo, we have left all, and have followed thee. 29 And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel’s, 30 But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life. 31 But many [that are] first shall be last; and the last first. 32 And they were in the way going up to Jerusalem; and Jesus went before them: and they were amazed; and as they followed, they were afraid. And he took again the twelve, and began to tell them what things should happen unto him, 33 [Saying], Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be delivered unto the chief priests, and unto the scribes; and they shall condemn him to death, and shall deliver him to the Gentiles: 34 And they shall mock him, and shall scourge him, and shall spit upon him, and shall kill him: and the third day he shall rise again. 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. 46 And they came to Jericho: and as he went out of Jericho with his disciples and a great number of people, blind Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, sat by the highway side begging. 47 And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out, and say, Jesus, [thou] Son of David, have mercy on me. 48 And many charged him that he should hold his peace: but he cried the more a great deal, [Thou] Son of David, have mercy on me. 49 And Jesus stood still, and commanded him to be called. And they call the blind man, saying unto him, Be of good comfort, rise; he calleth thee. 50 And he, casting away his garment, rose, and came to Jesus. 51 And Jesus answered and said unto him, What wilt thou that I should do unto thee? The blind man said unto him, Lord, that I might receive my sight. 52 And Jesus said unto him, Go thy way; thy faith hath made thee whole. And immediately he received his sight, and followed Jesus in the way.
In verse 28 after Jesus conversation with the rich, young ruler Peter points out to Jesus that they had left all and followed Him. Jesus acknowledges this and declares that among those who had left all and paid such a dear price for the gospel, they would receive back again IN THIS LIFE a 100 fold material and relational recompense, and in the world to come, eternal life. This then tells us that in Jesus thinking, reward is not just spiritual in nature, or to be reserved till we all get to heaven. He also saw the reward of the gospel as temporal, material and relational with respect to the costs and demands of following after Him and laying one’s life down in pursuit of the kingdom.
Jesus continues toward Jerusalem, and the disciples demonstrate great fear, because Jesus again states plainly that in going to Jerusalem, He will be taken and brutalized and crucified. It must have been the feeling such as we get when we find ourselves in a dangerous neighborhood. The disciples feared what might happen, and were doubly concerned that Jesus acknowledged this and wasn’t doing anything any differently but set His face steadfastly to go into the city and face what was ahead, expecting the disciples to go with Him. Perhaps thinking that Jesus might die, James and John want to solidify their position in the event that Jesus is arrested. They want to be left in charge in Jesus’ absence, but Jesus simply asks them rather if they are able to drink of the cup that He is about to drink? Obviously, they are not, for we know from Matthew that all fled and forsook Him when the Master will be arrested. Nonetheless the Sons of Thunder unadvisedly declare that yes they are up to the task and that Jesus should go ahead and put them in charge. Jesus ignores their brashness at this point but addresses the whole of the company of the 12 saying that being the greatest among this would be brought about by being servant of all. This forever repudiates the hierarchy of religious and ecclesiastical authorities and infrastructure as not reflective of the character of Christ however necessary we insist that it must be that way so “someone can be in charge…”
Drawing closer to Jerusalem, Jesus encounters a man named Bartimaeus, blind and begging by the wayside. Have you ever begged God for anything? This is what Bartimaeus is doing. There were many blind people healed but there is a lesson for us hear. Jesus spoke of the blind leading the blind, and perhaps what we see hear is that if we see ourselves as beggars before God we are demonstrating our blindness toward grace. In God because of the work of Christ we are not beggars but sons. God is not moved by our begging. Bartimaeus didn’t have to convince Jesus to heal him, Jesus was already disposed to heal the man and called him forth. The man comes to Jesus, casting aside his garment. That garment was something specifically connected with the necessity of his chosen life as a beggar. He had to cast that aside to come to Jesus to receive his sight. What do you need to cast away in order to receive your miracle? Notice that Jesus didn’t run to the man and get on the ground beside him. Instead Jesus called the man to get up out of his posture of begging, out of the place of safety and relative security there by the side of the road, and to grope his way toward Jesus. This is the demand that we must respond to if we are going to receive our miracle. We must be willing to get up and out of our place of self-pity and the requirement that others feel sorry for us and make our way to Jesus. Then the miracle we are hoping for will become a reality as it was for this man who was instantly healed and followed Jesus in the way.