Welcome back as we continue working through the Gospel According to Mark. Two weeks ago we covered Mark 9, where we saw Jesus transfigured into His glorified form in front of Peter, James, and John. We also worked through some difficult passages. I’d like to remind my readers that if anything I write seems novel (new) to you, please discuss these things with your pastor, for I am but a layman sharing my thoughts as we read God’s Word together. Particularly in the difficult passages… do not simply take my word for it.
Today, we’ll resume reading, beginning in Chapter 10 of the Gospel According to Mark.
Mark 10:1-12 (ESV) | Teaching About Divorce
And he left there and went to the region of Judea and beyond the Jordan, and crowds gathered to him again. And again, as was his custom, he taught them.
And Pharisees came up and in order to test him asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” He answered them, “What did Moses command you?” They said, “Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of divorce and to send her away.” And Jesus said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment. But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”
And in the house the disciples asked him again about this matter. And he said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her, and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.”
We’ve discussed this teaching and the subject of Divorce before. This is a question of the Law, and Jesus answers it lawfully. To divorce is to sin against God. What God has joined together, let not man separate. Specifically it is the sin of adultery by virtue of having sexual relations with 2 different people. There is a tendency for Christians to provide an escape clause of sorts for those who have been abandoned and for those whose spouses have committed the sin of adultery. They don’t use this passage, they refer to the one in Matt 5:31-32. The intent is to relieve the consciences of those Christians. It is a noble intent, but we already have the best solution for that in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Law doesn’t provide an out as we see here. When it comes to righteousness coram mundo (in the sight of the world/neighbor) we do all that we can to save the marriage, bring reconciliation within the marriage, and seek forgiveness and absolution… there is no “easy out” of the marriage covenant. There are no “biblical divorces” that receive God’s blessing. It is sin. The solution for this sin is the same solution for all sin, the Cross of Jesus Christ.
In this sinful life, we have to deal with sin all around us and within us. There are times when a divorce is unavoidable and the necessary course of action due to sin and unbelief as is the case with the guidance of the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 7. There is repentance, forgiveness, and absolution by faith in Jesus Christ, His death and resurrection. Marriage is a vital gift from God and divorce is a destructive and odious sin to be avoided. By the Law we uphold the highest view of marriage possible, and we cannot fulfill its demands on our own, we need the Gospel of Jesus Christ to grant repentance, forgiveness, and healing.
There is room for Pastoral care, teaching, and guidance in all things marriage related and it is necessary. There is a role for Church discipline regarding sexual immorality, marriage, divorce and even remarriage… but we must ever be Gospel focused in how we treat this subject.
Mark 10:13-16 (ESV) | Let the Children Come to Me
And they were bringing children to him that he might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them. But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them.
Jesus receives whom He will receive, and it isn’t for man to determine who merits the gift of God’s Grace. Praise the LORD!
Mark 10:17-31 (ESV) | The Rich Young Man
And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’” And he said to him, “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.” And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.
And Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” And the disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said to them again,“Children, how difficult it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” And they were exceedingly astonished, and said to him, “Then who can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.” Peter began to say to him, “See, we have left everything and followed you.” Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”
This man came to Jesus for confirmation that he was “good to go”… because he had kept the Law and was good. We see this first demonstrated in Jesus’ response to the man calling Him good teacher. The man didn’t catch on, and he even went further to claim that he had not only kept all of the commandments, but he believed he had kept them since childhood. Being the father of two precious little children myself… I know this cannot be the case. I love my kids… and they break commandments daily. So, we see a man seeking justification according to the Law, not understanding that the Law condemns everyone in sin… no one is good except God alone.
Mark 10:32-34 (ESV) | Jesus Foretells His Death a Third Time
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, 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. And they will mock him and spit on him, and flog him and kill him. And after three days he will rise.”
Mark takes us through tough encounters of teaching regarding the Law of God… and now he presents to us the Gospel in the foretelling of His death and resurrection. The disciples didn’t get it at the time, but praise be to Our God and Father for His patience and mercy on us, and Grace to us in His Son Jesus.
Mark 10:35-45 (ESV) | The Request of James and John
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.” And he said to them, “What do you want me to do for you?” And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.” 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?” 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, 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.” And when the ten heard it, they began to be indignant at James and John. 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. But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Quite the bold request made in ignorance. Jesus graciously redirects their focus away from a theology of glory and back toward a theology of the cross, of service to others in Christ Jesus. I believe the right hand and left hand of Jesus to be already prepared in Trinitarian Godhead. We know that Jesus ascended into heaven and exalted at the Right Hand of the Father (Acts 2:33). When we are all joined together in the Resurrection, the Holy Spirit of God will be there also. As for dividing up the Kingdom of God among the elect who are designated reign and rule with Christ (1 Cor 6:3), such things are not open for dividing up in the moment by contracts here on earth… such places have already been prepared according to God’s infinite Will and purpose, for His Glory Alone.
Mark 10:46-52 (ESV) | Jesus Heals Blind Bartimaeus
And they came to Jericho. And as he was leaving Jericho with his disciples and a great crowd, Bartimaeus, a blind beggar, the son of Timaeus, was sitting by the roadside. And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” And Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart. Get up; he is calling you.” And throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. And Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” And the blind man said to him, “Rabbi, let me recover my sight.” And Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him on the way.
Praise the Lord. May that be our prayer today… “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!“.
Until next week, spend time in the Written Word of God and do not forsake the gathering of the saints, hearing of the Preached Word… both Law and Gospel.
Hebrews 13:20-21 (ESV) Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will,working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.
In Christ Jesus,