For the full text of Mark 10, click here.
Chapter ten opens with a teaching about divorce that is fairly controversial these days. Not only does Jesus point out that “God made them male and female” in order to make His point about marriage and cleaving to one’s wife, but He also says something along the lines of remarriage after divorce being adulterous. He points out that even the possibility of divorce came to them due to the insistence of their forefathers that they couldn’t live without it and that Moses only relented in giving this concession.
Of course, this is a problem on more than one level. I talked about it some back in Matthew 19. This one doesn’t mention the sexual immorality bit but it does say that people can’t separate “what God has joined”. Of course, leaving out sexual immorality means that one spouse can cheat on the other and the victim has no real recourse to get out of the situation. Likewise even that doesn’t include the problem that happens with abusive spouses. I understand the overall intention that people shouldn’t divorce over nonsense, but is it a real union with infidelity? Abuse? Child endangerment? The list goes on. This isn’t even in a time when people could pick their own spouses but relied on families to do so and hope that they picked a match that was good for the people getting marriend and not the pockets of the parents. I mean, we’re not talking about the most innocent of generations either, not that we’re great. The point is that there are plenty of reasons for divorce and simple unhappiness pales in comparison to some of the dangers people seek to flee at times. It doesn’t feel like these considerations are a part of God’s plan here.
All this is followed by people bringing their children to see Jesus and His quick teaching about being like children. I’ll be honest, I’ve never been quite sure what receiving the kingdom of Heaven like a child means. Children can be so different. I realize that it sounds like receiving it with unabashed enthusiasm but I’ve seen kids receive a lot of things with unabashed attitude instead.
Next is the story of the rich young man who wanted to learn to inherit eternal life and left distraught because he had to go back and sell all his things first. I mentioned before that I wish we knew definitively if he ever came back. It’s possible that he was distressed but still followed through. The rest of the teaching is pretty on it though. There are plenty of great rich people who do things for the poor, but it’s hard to imagine getting to that point and giving it all away. Even growing up with it and giving it all away sounds complicated. But that’s for the guarantee in that time. He even says “in this time” when talking about those who leave everything behind getting a “hundredfold”.
After this, when they are walking up to Jerusalem, He reiterates what’s about to happen. I imagine He does this so much so that they aren’t so surprised when it happens. Like parents warning a kid a million times that mommy and daddy aren’t going to live together anymore but it still doesn’t process until well after the even itself has happened.
On this same journey, James and John of Zebedee ask Jesus about sitting on either side of Him in Heaven. The others are upset with them about it, but Jesus takes yet another teaching moment. It’s all about service and giving up yourself for the sake of others, especially Him and God. It’s about the first being last and the last being first. It’s confusing and difficult but not impossible. Think of yourself last, and you’re almost there, I think.
The last story in this chapter is a quick healing of a blind man who follows Jesus after being healed.