Jesus: God planned marriage, not divorce
- 10:1 Jesus left town.1 He went south to the region of Judea and then east across the Jordan River. Once again, crowds gathered around him. He did what he usually did when that happened: he taught the folks.
- 10:2 Some Pharisees approached him with a trick question.2 They asked him if Jewish law allowed a man to divorce his wife.
- 10:3 Jesus asked them a question and return: “What did Moses tell you about that?”
- 10:4 They said, “Moses allowed a man to give his wife a written note saying she was now divorced. Then the man could send the woman on her way.”
- 10:5 Jesus said, “Moses gave you that commandment because you people have a heart problem. Your heart’s too hard.
- 10:6 I’m telling you this, God made man and woman. It has been that way since the beginning of creation.
- 10:7 'That’s why a man leaves his parents for a woman. The man and woman become part of each other.
- 10:8 They are two people, yet one.’3 So they’re no longer just two people. They’re united as one.
- 10:9 No human should break up what God put together.”
- 10:10 When the disciples got alone with Jesus inside the house, they asked him what he meant.
- 10:11 Jesus told them, “Any man who divorces his wife and marries another woman is committing adultery.
- 10:12 And any woman who divorces4 her husband and marries another man is committing adultery, too.”5
Act like a kid to get into God’s kingdom
- 10:13 Some people brought their children to Jesus so he could touch them. But the disciples stopped them and criticized them.
- 10:14 Jesus saw this and got upset. He told the disciples, “Let those children come over here to me. Don’t try to stop them. God’s Kingdom belongs to them.
- 10:15 I’ll tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t welcome God’s Kingdom like a child is someone who will never see the inside of it.”
- 10:16 Jesus picked up children and put his hands on them as he offered a blessing for them.6
Too rich for God’s Kingdom
- 10:17 Jesus set out on another road trip.7 A man came running up to him. The man dropped to his knees in front of Jesus and asked, “Good Teacher, what do I have to do to make sure I get to live forever?”
- 10:18 Jesus said, “Why do you call me good? Only God is good.8
- 10:19 You know the commandments: ‘Don’t murder. Don’t commit adultery; Don’t steal; Don’t lie about people; Don’t cheat people; Respect your father and mother.’”9
- 10:20 The man answered, “I’ve kept all these laws since I was a kid.”
- 10:21 Jesus looked hard at the man for a moment, and then put his hand on the man’s shoulder.10 Jesus said, “You’re still missing something. Sell everything you have. Then give all the money to the poor. Once you do that, you’ll have treasure in heaven. And you can come and follow me.”
- 10:22 The man’s heart sank into his stomach as he walked away. He was richer than all get out.
- 10:23 Jesus looked at the people around him and then said to his disciples, “How tough it is for rich people to find their way into God’s Kingdom.”
- 10:24 That shocked the disciples.11 Jesus said, “I’m telling you, children, it’s hard to get into God’s Kingdom.
- 10:25 Listen, it’s easier for a camel to squeeze through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich person to make it through to the Kingdom of God.”
- 10:26 That certainly raised some eyebrows among the disciples. Talking to one another, they said, “Well then, who can be saved?”
- 10:27 Jesus looked over at them and said, “No one could be saved if it were up to humans. It’s impossible for them. But it’s not impossible for God. Everything is possible with God.”
- 10:28 Peter said, “Well, we’ve left everything of ours behind so we could follow you.”
- 10:29 “Here’s the truth. Those of you who have left your home or your brothers and sisters or your parents or your children or your land—when you have done it out of devotion to me and to the good news I’ve been teaching about God’s Kingdom—
- 10:30 you are going to get 100 times more in this lifetime than you left behind. More houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children in the land. But it comes with persecution. Yet it comes with eternal life, too.
- 10:31 Many people who are first and foremost in this world will be last and least in the world to come. And many who are last and least now will be first and foremost then.12
Jesus predicts his death
- 10:32 Jesus walked in front of the group as they headed up the road toward Jerusalem. By this time, everyone was in absolute awe. They were afraid, too.13 Jesus pulled the 12 disciples aside. He warned them about what was going to happen to him.
- 10:33 “Look, we’re going up to the hills to Jerusalem. There, the Son of Humans will get arrested and handed over to the top priests and the scribes.14 They’ll sentence him to death and hand them over to the Gentiles15 for execution.
- 10:34 They’ll make a joke out of him. They’ll spit on him. They’ll beat him. Then they’ll kill him. But after three days, he’ll come back to life."16
James and John ask a little favor
- 10:35 Zebedee’s sons, James and John, asked Jesus for a favor. “Teacher, there’s something we would like you to do for us.”
- 10:36 Jesus said, “Okay, what is it you want me to do for you?”
- 10:37 They said, “When you become king and sit on your throne in glory, give us the two top positions in your kingdom.”17
- 10:38 Jesus said, “You don’t know what you’re asking. Do you really think you can drink from the bitter cup that’s waiting for me or wade through the terrible baptism I have to suffer?”
- 10:39 “Yes we do,” they said. Jesus answered, “And you will. You will drink from that cup. And you will be baptized with that baptism.
- 10:40 But it’s not up to me who will sit in places of greatest honor. Those seats are reserved for the people who will be seated there.”
- 10:41 The other 10 disciples were not at all happy about what they had just heard. They got mad at James and John.
- 10:42 Jesus called the disciples over and said, “You’ve seen how rulers of other nations work. They’re supposed to lead their people. Instead, they flaunt authority and dominate their people.
- 10:43 That’s not how it’s going to work for you. If you want to become a great leader, you have to become a great servant.
- 10:44 If you want the top position, assume the servant’s position.
- 10:45 Even the Son of Humans has to do that. He didn’t come here so everyone could serve him. He came to serve them. He’s here giving his life in a ransom payment to liberate a lot of people.”
Jesus asks a blind man the obvious question
- 10:46 Jesus and his disciples reached Jericho and were on their way out of town, followed by a large crowd. Sitting alongside the road was a blind beggar. His name was Bartimaeus. He was the son of Timaeus.
- 10:47 When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth walking by, he started to yell, “Son of David, Jesus, please help me!”
- 10:48 A lot of people near the man told him to shut up. He yelled louder. He screamed, “Son of David, please help me!”
- 10:49 Jesus stopped and said, “Tell the man to come over here.” So they did. They told the man, “You just got a reason to smile. Get up. He wants to see you.”
- 10:50 The man tossed his cloak aside, jumped to his feet, and rushed to Jesus.
- 10:51 Jesus said, “What you want me to do for you?” The blind man said, “Teacher, I want to see again.”
- 10:52 Jesus told him, “Go. You’ve got faith and it has healed you.” Instantly, the man could see. He started following Jesus up the road to Jerusalem.
Jesus had been in Capernaum.
Divorce became a hot topic in the region of Galilee. That’s because Herod Antipas I, the ruler of Galilee, divorced his wife so he could marry his brother’s wife. This woman, also, divorced her husband, Philip, so she could marry Herod. Herod’s ex-wife fled to her father, king of a neighboring region called Nabatea. The outraged father declared war on Galilee. John the Baptist criticized this marriage because it broke Jewish law and was considered incest. Herod’s new wife did not like being called incestuous. In time, she managed to get John’s head served to her on a platter (Mark 6:14-29).
Under Jewish law, only men could initiate a divorce. Some Bible experts suggest Jesus might have been referring to divorces women initiated outside the Jewish religion. The wife of Galilee’s ruler, Herod Agrippa I, had divorced her husband, Herod’s brother Philip, so she could marry Herod.
Some Bible experts say they believe Jesus was addressing the divorce and remarriage of Herod Agrippa I and his wife. Each one divorced a spouse so they could marry one another. Some Christians say they believe Jesus was teaching that it was wrong for divorced people to ever remarry. Other Christians say Jesus seems to have been using hyperbole to argue against the all-too-easy divorce option for Jewish men who became dissatisfied with their wife or a little too interested in some other woman.
A blessing like this could have been a prayer asking for their happiness and for God to shower them with his kindness.
This was his last road trip with the disciples. He was headed to Jerusalem, where he would be crucified.
It’s unclear why Jesus bristles at being called good. Suggestions include that Jesus detected some insincere flattery, or perhaps Jesus was hinting that he really is good because he really is God. The goodness of God is a common theme in the Bible. For example: Chronicles 16:34, Psalm 25:8. The man may have simply intended to offer Jesus a genuine and remarkable show of respect. It was rare for anyone in the first century to get addressed as a “Good Teacher.”
Jesus is reciting laws of Moses from Exodus 20:12-16; Deuteronomy 5:16-20.
A more literal translation says simply that Jesus “loved him.” Bible experts debate what that means. Some link it to a Hebrew word that means “pitied.” Others say it reflects some loving action Jesus took, such as a guy hug or a hand on the shoulder.
Many Jews seemed to think that wealth was a sign of God’s blessing and approval. But given what many Bible writers have to say about wealth and the wealthy, the opposite is often the case. “Hey, you rich people. The clock is ticking. Misery is coming… Your gold and silver are crusted in tarnish…You are so bloated with sin that you’re like an animal that has been fattened for slaughter” (James 5:1, 3, 5).
Some Bible experts say that in the context of what Jesus has just said, Mark may be linking this famous saying to the Kingdom of God, referring to people who make it into the Kingdom and to those who don’t. See Luke 13:30.
Mark doesn’t say what the people were afraid of. Maybe they were afraid of what Jesus might say, given what he had just said about how hard it is to get into God’s Kingdom. Or maybe they were afraid of going to Jerusalem and confronting the top Jewish leaders who, obviously by now, wanted nothing more than to shut Jesus up.
“Gentiles” refers to the Romans who had been occupying the Jewish homeland for more than a generation.
The Greek word, anistēmi, is often translated “rise again.” It has a wide variety of meanings, including: to get up from laying down, to stand up, to take a stand against someone, to come back from the dead, or to leave one place and go to another (such as leaving this life and going to be with others who have died).
More literally, James and John ask Jesus if they can sit at his right hand and his left hand when Jesus reaches his “glory.” They probably expected Jesus to become a king like David, who would drive out the enemies of the Jews and restore Israel as an independent nation.
Divorce and remarriage was a politically charged controversial matter in the time of Jesus, because Herod Antipas, the ruler of Galilee, had divorced his wife so he could marry the ex-wife of his brother, Philip. The father of Herod’s ex-wife, a ruler himself, launched the war against Galilee. A group of Pharisees tried to drag Jesus into the debate by asking him what he thought about divorce. He said, “No human should break up what God put together” (10:9). And he said that any divorced person who marries another “is committing adultery” (10:11). Since so many people got divorced then and get divorced now, how do you think we should interpret what Jesus said? Which idea below best represents what you think about this?
- Jesus was referring to the divorce and remarriage of Herod Antipas I and his new wife.
- Jesus was using hyperbole—exaggeration intended to discourage people from the all-to-easy divorce practice common among Jewish men. They simply wrote a note confirming their divorce, and sent their wife away.
- Jesus meant exactly what he said. No exaggeration.
Jesus said that Moses allowed a man to give his wife a written notice of divorce and send her away “because you people have a heart problem. Your heart’s too hard” (10:5). What do you think Jesus may have meant by that?
When the disciples tried to stop some parents from taking their children to see Jesus, Jesus told the disciples, “Let those children come over here to me. Don’t try to stop them. God’s Kingdom belongs to them” (10:14). That could sound like a pretty vague thing to say. What do you think Jesus might have meant by this?
When a man approached Jesus with a question about eternal life, he addressed Jesus as “Good Teacher” (10:17). Jesus responded with a perplexing question: “Why do you call me good? Only God is good” (10:18). What do you think is going on with that exchange? It’s as though Jesus is trying to make a point, but it’s tough to know what that point might be.
A rich man came up to Jesus and asked what he needed to do to live forever. With the answer Jesus gave, the man might have preferred a dropkick to the face. Jesus said, “Sell everything you have… Come and follow me” (10:21). Frankly, that doesn’t sound like an enticing invitation. Sell all your assets and follow a man who’s going to God knows where because you have no idea where he’s going. And if you knew, the invitation would seem even less enticing. Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem, where he would get crucified. Do you think the man made a wise choice by walking away?
Jesus says, “It’s easier for a camel to squeeze through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich person to make it through to the Kingdom of God” (10:25). Well, it’s impossible for a camel to survive a trip through the eye of a needle, given that a camel would have to make that journey one thin hair at a time. Is that how rich people are going to make it into heaven, by a hair? If at all.
It’s kind of funny, the way the story of the blind man in Jericho unfolds. When the man calls out for Jesus, Jesus calls out for the man. Jesus says he wants to see him. Then when Jesus asks what he can do to help the blind man, the blind man says he wants to see Jesus. Get it? The man calls for Jesus, then Jesus calls for the man. Jesus wants to see the man, then the man wants to see Jesus. What do you think we should make of this? Pick one of the following.
- Nothing. We shouldn’t make anything of it.
- Allegory. Maybe we should see Jesus in the man. What Jesus wanted, the man wanted. What the man wanted, Jesus wanted. At the end of the story, the man goes with Jesus toward Jerusalem.
- Symbolism. Maybe we should see ourselves in the blind man. Here we sit on the side of the road abandoned, helpless, calling out to Jesus. Then he calls for us, heals us, and takes us on the journey with him to forever.
- Nightcap. All of this is stretching a short little story intended only to show the power and compassion of Jesus. So maybe we should have a sip of brandy and go to bed. Or a sip of milk with a cookie.
LIFE APPLICATION. Jesus quotes what was his Bible, which Christians call the Old Testament, by saying that when two people get married they “become part of each other. They are two people, yet one” (10:7-8). What do you think that looks like in marriage? Other than in the physical intimacy of marriage, in what other ways do you think the two partners become one?
LIFE APPLICATION. When Jesus told the disciples how hard it was for rich people to make it into God’s Kingdom, they were shocked. “That certainly raised some eyebrows among the disciples” (10:26). It was a common misperception among Jews that rich people were rich because God was pleased with them, and that poor people were poor because God was not happy with them. Do you think people still wonder about that, and suspect it might be true?
LIFE APPLICATION. Jesus said it takes some sacrifice to follow him. Peter told Jesus, “We’ve left everything of ours behind so we could follow you” (10:28). What do you think Christians in our neck of the world give up to follow Jesus?
LIFE APPLICATION. The disciples of Jesus seemed to think that he was going to set up a kingdom on earth. That’s why two of his best friends, James and John, asked for top assignments in the new government. “When you become king and sit on your throne in glory, give us the two top positions in your kingdom” (10:37). Instead, Jesus gave them a lecture on humility: “If you want the top position, assume the servant’s position” (10:44). How exactly does that work?