Mark 10:1-16

(A Bible Study Led by Dr. Larry Reynolds)

September 20, 2012

 

Mark 10:1 – A description of the life to which God calls us

 

“And rising up…” – The tendency is to read that in sense of Jesus getting up in morning after a night's rest...but that's not what the phrase means...has much more significant meaning than that...if look back to 9:35 will find this statement:  "And sitting down, He called the disciples and said to them..."...as we saw in a previous study, in the first century world, when a teacher had something important to depart to his followers, would sit down to say it...that was most formal position from which to teach...just opposite from our day where teachers tend to stand to depart important information...and in using the phrase in 10:1 "And rising up..." Mark is saying the time for teaching had ended and the time for action had come...Jesus was never content just to sit and teach theology...he also desired to be out among the people meeting their needs...and that's exactly what He did on this occasion... Mark tells us that "crowds gathered around Him..." and Matthew's account of this same event tells us that Jesus healed many of them...

 

One thing we can learn from that is Christian life involves both belief and action...theology and ethics...doctrine and practice ...if lose sight of that and get out of balance, the results can be catastrophic...

·         If emphasize the belief side of the Christian life to the exclusion of the works side, can become legalistic, arrogant, self-righteous, and out of touch with real needs of people...when we come across someone who is broken and hurting, doesn't do them a lot of good for us to instruct them in the eschatology of Paul or various theories of the atonement...that hurting person needs for us to respond to their need as we see Jesus doing time and time again...

·         On the other hand, if all we ever do is put band-aids on people's hurts and never deal with the deeper issues of sin and repentance and forgiveness and salvation in Jesus Christ, we are at best being superficial...

 

“He went from there to the region of Judea, and beyond the Jordan” - This is very significant transition in the ministry of Jesus...up to this point in Mark's Gospel, Jesus ministry had been in Galilee and the area north of Galilee...now He makes His way south to the region of Judea...the phrase "beyond the Jordan" is particularly interesting...in first century Palestine were two Roman provinces which were primarily Jewish...Galilee to the north and Judea to the south...the Jordan River which flows south from the Sea of Galilee formed the eastern border of both Galilee and Judea... however, between these two Jewish provinces was the area of Samaria...because great animosity existed between Jews and Samaritans, when traveling from Galilee to Judea or vica versa, when came to area of Samaria would cross over to the eastern side of Jordan River, and then cross back when was past Samaria...that was route Jesus took on this journey...this journey Marks major turning point in Jesus ministry and Gospel of Mark....first nine chapters set in Galilee...but remainder of book set in Judea where Jerusalem was located...Jesus well knew what awaited Him in Judea...in both Mark 8 and again in Mark 9, had told disciples  that He was going to be killed...was well aware that the cross awaited Him in Judea...and with great courage and steadfast commitment He steadily made His way south toward it...

 

            That's a reminder that the Christian life requires courage...we need to get over the idea that doing the will of God in our lives will always be the easiest thing we can do...doing His will is always the best thing, but it is seldom, if ever, the easiest thing...it requires courage to go where God leads us to go and to do what God leads us to do...

 

 

Mark 10:2-12 – Teachings about divorce

It is very important to understand the context in which this passage is set... saw in verse 1 that Jesus was in the area "beyond the Jordan" ...this is where John the Baptist had preached...by this time John had been arrested and beheaded by Herod Antipas...and the reason John the Baptist had been arrested in the first place is because he denounced the adulterous, incestuous marriage between Herod and Herodias, who was both his sister-in-law and his niece...it may be the Pharisees asked Jesus about divorce in this area hoping His answer would anger Herod and He would experience same fate as John the Baptist...

 

The question of divorce was a burning issue among first century Jews...question was not so much "Is divorce legal?" because all of the Jewish teachers said it was legal...question was, "What are appropriate legal grounds for divorce?"...may not see this if just read Mark 10:2 where Mark says Pharisees asked Jesus "whether it was lawful for a man to divorce a wife."...however, in the parallel account of this event in Matthew 19:3 we are given the complete question they asked which was, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any cause at all?"...

 

That question reflects a raging controversy among first century Jews about how to interpret the teachings of Moses about divorce in Deut. 24:1-4...in those verses Moses speaks of the husband giving the wife a certificate of divorce if "she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found some indecency in her..."...and the debate centered around how to interpret the phrase "some indecency in her"...were two schools of thought on this issue...

·         One group interpreted the phrase in a very restrictive sense to mean that divorce was justified only on grounds of some immorality...

·         Another group interpreted the phrase is much broader sense to mean husband could divorce wife for almost any reason...if spoiled the food, talked with stranger, spoke disrespectfully of in-laws...one rabbi went so far as to teach  was adequate grounds for divorce if husband found someone liked better than his wife...

 

In effect came to Jesus saying, "You claim be teacher.  You have large following.  How do you interpret the law of Moses on this subject."... as usual, Jesus didn't answer their question directly...first, in vv.3-4 had them state what Moses had said...then, said some things about divorce which transcended teachings of Moses...and what Jesus said about divorce can be summed up in two statements...

 

I.  Divorce is not God's ideal

1.   Jesus refused to get into a petty argument over what is and is not acceptable grounds for divorce...instead, He stated a much more important principle...and that principle is that whenever divorce occurs and for whatever reason it occurs, divorce is always a breach of God's ideal for the marriage relationship...

2.   He pointed the Pharisees beyond the Mosaic law to the creation story where God performed the first marriage ceremony... i doing so was saying, "Don't forget the origin of marriage.  It began in heart and mind of God.  It is God's intent, desire, will for a man and woman to marry and stay married."

3.   God's ideal for marriage...God's standard is one man and one woman for life...anything less than that, for whatever reason, falls short of God's ideal...

 

II.  Divorce is the result of human sin

1.      Once you accept the fact that divorce is not God's ideal, then the logical conclusion is divorce involves sin which is a deviation from God's will...Jesus makes that point in two ways in this passage...

·         First, He pointed out in v.5 that the concession concerning divorce offered by Moses was "because of your hardness of heart"...that is, the people were set on doing what they desired to do, without regard for the will of God...they were blind and unteachable...and purpose of Moses' statement about divorce in Deut. 24 was not to encourage divorce, but to restrict an immoral practice which had become rampant among the Israelites...

·         Second, He said in vv.11-12 that if husband/wife divorces spouse and marries another person that constitutes adultery... want you look carefully at text...important understand what is and is not saying...not saying that every divorced person who remarries is living in adulterous relationship...referring to practice of husband putting aside his wife for another woman...in these verses the acts of divorce and remarriage are tied closely together, almost as if they are synonymous...the divorce being described here is specifically for the purpose of remarriage...that was not uncommon practice in first century...those people who interpreted Deut. 24:1 very loosely said man could put aside his wife for any reason, even if it's nothing more than he found another woman...and what Jesus is saying such a practice is shameful and don't think just because you adhere to your interpretation of Mosaic law in setting aside your spouse it makes your new relationship acceptable in God's eyes...

2.      Point of all that is divorce is the result of human sin...over the years have dealt with many people whose marriages disintegrated, and have yet to find a single case where sin --in form of selfishness, disobedience, pride, lust, or whatever-- was not in some way involved...having said that, want quickly add that while divorce is sin, it is certainly not the unpardonable sin...when we fail to live us to God's ideal, as we all do in some areas of our lives, God does not write us off or cast us into the outer darkness...instead, He continues loving us, calling us to Him, and working with us where we are...and that is how we should relate to those in our fellowship and in our world who have experienced the tragedy of divorce...instead of condemning and judging and isolating them, we should reach out to them in love and help them put their lives together again...the principle of "...the one without sin casting the first stone..." certainly applies to this issue...

 

Mark 10:13-16 – Jesus and the little children.  There are a couple of things about these verses that are particularly interesting.

·         This is one of the few places in Scripture where we get a glimpse of the emotion of Jesus...Marks tells us in v.14 that when Jesus saw disciples trying to keep children from Him that "He was indignant..."...word translated "indignant" is unique word used only here in NT...combination of two words..."much" and "to grieve"...saying Jesus was much grieved by actions of disciples...

·   The key statement in this paragraph is in verse 15: "Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it at all."....in other words, if don't come like a child, can't come at all... takes us back to Mark 9:36-37 where we saw the Aramaic word for child and servant is the same word.  Jesus is again using the image of a child or servant to teach His disciples an important kingdom truth.  To receive the kingdom of God like a child means to acknowledge our utter, complete dependence on God...means to acknowledge that we are helpless to save ourselves...means to put aside our pride and independence and cast ourselves on Him in humility as a helpless child...

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