Then He arose from there and came to the region of Judea by the other side of the Jordan. And multitudes gathered to Him again, and as He was accustomed, He taught them again.Because of the hardness of your hearts.
2 The Pharisees came and asked Him, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” testing Him.
3 And He answered and said to them, “What did Moses command you?”
4 They said, “Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce, and to dismiss her.”
5 And Jesus answered and said to them, “Because of 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 reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, 8 and the two shall become one flesh’; so then they are no longer two, but one flesh. 9 Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.”
10 In the house His disciples also asked Him again about the same matter. 11 So He said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her. 12 And if a woman divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.”
Legal . . . but good? As God intended?
In his usual fashion, Jesus is more interested in the spirit behind the law than in the letter of it. And he knows well that the allowances Moses gave have been expanded and twisted, until anything is reason for divorce. Until a man's family would badger him to put away his wife if she wasn't living up to expectations or producing heirs.
Jesus, though, knew how this would rip someone's heart to pieces. He knew how it would break and splinter a home. And he knew that there was something so much better, if both a husband and a wife will strive together for it, seeking His will above all.
13 Then they brought little children to Him, that He might touch them; but the disciples rebuked those who brought them. 14 But when Jesus saw it, He was greatly displeased and said to them, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. 15 Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.” 16 And He took them up in His arms, laid His hands on them, and blessed them.No wonder Jesus was greatly displeased! He's already demonstrated how much he values the little ones, but here they are falling back into their typical mindset--that it wasn't until adulthood that a person had full worth. Jesus, however, recognizes the purity of the children's faith.
17 Now as He was going out on the road, one came running, knelt before Him, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?”I've been waiting for the tale of the rich young ruler. ;-)
18 So Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. 19 You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery,’ ‘Do not murder,’ ‘Do not steal,’ ‘Do not bear false witness,’ ‘Do not defraud,’ ‘Honor your father and your mother.’”
20 And he answered and said to Him, “Teacher, all these things I have kept from my youth.”
21 Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me.”
22 But he was sad at this word, and went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.
Okay, here's the deal. The typical, off-the-cuff response to this is, "But of course, Jesus doesn't ask us all to give up all our possessions and follow him."
No. He doesn't. BUT.
But . . . what if he did ask that of you?
Going on two years ago, when we read this passage, I asked myself that question. And I thought about it. Really, truly thought about it. If he asked, would I give up my house? My clothes? My cars? If he asked, would I give up my books? My television? My antique dishes and lamps? If he asked, would I leave it all and go to some part of the world I'd never seen to answer his call?
I asked . . . and I didn't like the answer. Because I just couldn't fathom giving it all up--and I knew that was wrong.
So here's what I did: I prayed that God would change my attitude. That he would help me put value where it belonged, and not on my stuff.
There was no big thunder-clap. There was no epiphany. There was nothing monumental. I just lived my life. And I thought long and hard before I bought anything new.
A year later, I asked myself that question again . . . and I realized that now it was quite clearly yes. Yes, Lord, I would give it all up to follow you. Whatever you ask of me. I will give it.
Jesus asked this young man to give up his wealth because that's what was standing between him and God. That's what he valued more than his faith. That was his idol.
That's always what Jesus is going to ask for. Maybe it's your money, your house, your things. Maybe it's your family (like the man in another gospel who said, "Lord, just let me bury my father first, then I will follow you."). Maybe it's your job. I don't know what it is--but if there's anything you put above Him, He will ask you to be willing to put it aside for him.
Quick note on the "eye of a needle" thing--he's actually referring to a gate into the city called the Eye of the Needle. This was a low gate, and in order for a camel to enter through it, you had to completely unload the camel and then urge it to kneel down and hobble through on its knees. Possible. But very difficult.23 Then Jesus looked around and said to His disciples, “How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!” 24 And the disciples were astonished at His words. But Jesus answered again and said to them, “Children, how hard it is for those who trust in riches to enter 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 the kingdom of God.”26 And they were greatly astonished, saying among themselves, “Who then can be saved?”27 But Jesus looked at them and said, “With men it is impossible, but not with God; for with God all things are possible.”28 Then Peter began to say to Him, “See, we have left all and followed You.”29 So Jesus answered and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My sake and the gospel’s, 30 who shall 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. 31 But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”
32 Now they were on the road, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was going before them; and they were amazed. And as they followed they were afraid. Then He took the twelve aside again and began to tell them the things that would happen to Him: 33 “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and to the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death and deliver Him to the Gentiles; 34 and they will mock Him, and scourge Him, and spit on Him, and kill Him. And the third day He will rise again.”This is a mindset I try really hard to carry into all the different facets of life--that our place is to give. To serve. To seek not honor, but simply to honor him through our every action.
35 Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to Him, saying, “Teacher, we want You to do for us whatever we ask.”
36 And He said to them, “What do you want Me to do for you?”
37 They said to Him, “Grant us that we may sit, one on Your right hand and the other on Your left, in Your glory.”
38 But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you ask. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?”
39 They said to Him, “We are able.”
So Jesus said to them, “You will indeed drink the cup that I drink, and with the baptism I am baptized with you will be baptized; 40 but to sit on My right hand and on My left is not Mine to give, but it is for those for whom it is prepared.”
41 And when the ten heard it, they began to be greatly displeased with James and John. 42 But Jesus called them to Himself and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. 43 Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant. 44 And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all. 45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”
Not saying it's easy, LOL. But if I can teach my kids one thing, I want it to be this. Serve.
46 Now they came to Jericho. As He went out of Jericho with His disciples and a great multitude, blind Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, sat by the road begging. 47 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!”
48 Then many warned him to be quiet; but he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”
49 So Jesus stood still and commanded him to be called.
Then they called the blind man, saying to him, “Be of good cheer. Rise, He is calling you.”
50 And throwing aside his garment, he rose and came to Jesus.
51 So Jesus answered and said to him, “What do you want Me to do for you?”
The blind man said to Him, “Rabboni, that I may receive my sight.”
52 Then Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus on the road.
Question for Mark 10 ~ What would be the hardest thing God could ask you to sacrifice/leave behind to follow him?