Study Notes

Mark 10:1-52

10:1 His Custom

Mark says that teaching the crowds was according to Jesus' custom. We've seen the emphasis Jesus put on teaching. In chapter 1, when the crowds were getting big, and everyone wanted to be healed, Jesus said,

Mark 1:38 ..."Let us go somewhere else to the towns nearby, in order that I may preach there also; for that is what I came out for."

Jesus' custom was to teach the Word of God.

10:2-12 The Pharisees' Trap

The Pharisees are not looking for theological answers. They were trying to trap Jesus in a very clever manner. In order to understand this completely, we need to look at what was happening in Israel culturally.

The two most influential rabbis at the time were Hillel and Shammai. They disagreed and debated over the proper reasons for a man to divorce his wife. Hillel believed that any reason at all was cause for a man to send his wife away. But Shammai believed that there was no cause for divorce other than the wife's moral defilement.

The Pharisees believe they have Jesus trapped. They figured that no matter which side He took, He would be alienating a large group - possibly losing more than half of His following.

In addition, they were now in Herod's territory. Remember that Herod had John the Baptist arrested over his public stance over Herod's marital situation, having married his brother Philip's wife Herodias. If they could just get it into Herod's ear that Jesus was publicly slamming his marriage, it would be off to the slammer with Him.

Teaching About Divorce

They ask Jesus about divorce. Notice how He answers:

Mark 10:3 ..."What did Moses command you?"

This is such an important lesson for us to learn. When someone comes asking for our opinion, we should point them to the Word of God. Personal opinions are useless. When we're asked for or confronted with moral, philosophical, or theological opinions, they must always be based on the Word of God.

Jesus pointed them to Deuteronomy 24.

Deut. 24:1-4 "When a man takes a wife and marries her, and it happens that she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found some indecency in her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out from his house, and she leaves his house and goes and becomes another man's wife, and if the latter husband turns against her and writes her a certificate of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out of his house, or if the latter husband dies who took her to be his wife, then her former husband who sent her away is not allowed to take her again to be his wife, since she has been defiled; for that is an abomination before the LORD, and you shall not bring sin on the land which the LORD your God gives you as an inheritance.

Moses writing about a man giving his wife a certificate of divorce.

Jesus asked, "what did Moses COMMAND?" The Pharisees respond, "Moses PERMITTED." Jesus comes back by saying "Moses wrote you this COMMANDMENT." Jesus is talking about the commandment of Moses, but the Pharisees are talking about what Moses permitted.

The command was not about writing a certificate of divorce, but about the first husband not marrying the wife again after she had married someone else. And Moses was not commanding a certificate of divorce, he was acknowledging that it would happen. This is why Jesus says,

Mark 10:5 But Jesus said to them, "Because of your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment."

Then Jesus takes marriage back to the beginning - Adam and Eve. After creating Adam, the Lord said,

Gen. 2:18 Then the LORD God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him."

Gen. 2:21-24 So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh at that place. And the LORD God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man. And the man said, "This is now bone of my bones, And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man." For this cause a man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.

God had brought these two people together, and made them into one flesh. That is a perfect picture of the supernatural ocurrance of marriage - the two become one.

And because God has made them one, man's piece of paper doesn't nullify that oneness. Therefore, Jesus later told His disciples in the house,

Mark 10:11-12 And He said to them, "Whoever divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her; and if she herself divorces her husband and marries another man, she is committing adultery."

We should also look at the two places in Scripture where divorce is allowed by God. Not mandated, but certainly allowed. The first one is told to us by Jesus in Matthew 5 and 19, in the case of adultery.

Matt. 19:9 "And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery."

Immorality here is "pornia" in Greek, speaking of fornication, adulterous intercourse. Most people are pretty clear on the fact that God allows you to divorce if your spouse has committed adultery, but there is a lot of confusion about the other allowance God has made.

1Cor. 7:12-13, 15 ...If any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, let him not send her away. And a woman who has an unbelieving husband, and he consents to live with her, let her not send her husband away... Yet if the unbelieving one leaves, let him leave; the brother or the sister is not under bondage in such cases, but God has called us to peace.

So if you're married today to a non-Christian, and he or she wants to stay with you, you should stay married. But if the unbeliever wants to leave, let him or her leave. The divorce is allowed by God in that situation.

10:13-16 Permit The Children

Jesus was taking children into His arms, speaking blessing to them, laying hands on them, and praying for them.

Jesus was into baby dedications - the disciples thought they were a waste of time.

We must always be careful to be ministering to children - bringing them to Jesus Christ in a manner that they can understand, in a way that is real to them.

Like A Child

Christianity is not an adults-only club. As a matter of fact, Jesus tells us that children should be our greatest teachers - they teach us by example how we are to approach the kingdom of God.

Mark 10:15 "Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it at all."

How can we receive the kingdom like a child? Two things come to mind:

1) Total dependence. As adults, we are too self-reliant. A child knows he can't survive on his own. He realizes he doesn't have control. He runs to the safety of his father.

2) Total trust. A child trusts his father implicitly. When I say, "dinner'll be ready in a half hour," they never stress out and say, "are you sure we're going to get to eat today? You're not just tricking us are you?" In the eight years that I have been a parent, never once did my children fear that they were not going to get food that day.

Oh, how we need to learn total dependence and total trust in our heavenly Father! We must become like children.

10:17-22 The Rich Young Ruler

A man approaches Jesus. Between Matthew, Mark, and Luke, we know several things about him: He owned much property. He was a young man. He was a ruler. He was extremely rich.

He had everything going for him. He had even been very religious in keeping the commandments of God. But he had an empty place in his heart, and knew that he had not yet inherited eternal life.

He saw that Jesus had that fullness. Although Jesus owned practically nothing, although He had nowhere to lay His head, this rich young ruler saw that Jesus didn't have the same emptiness.

Why Do You Call Me Good?

He kneels before Him and calls Jesus, "Good Teacher." Jesus takes the opportunity to force the man into a decision - into coming to grips with who He is. He says,"Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone." Now Jesus was not denying His deity, He was saying, "If you're saying I'm good, then you're saying I'm God. If you're not saying I'm God, then it cannot be said that I am good."

You Know The Commandments

Jesus lists commandments 5-9. The rich young ruler confidently claims that he had kept these commandments. He was a genuinely nice guy. But being a nice guy doesn't earn you eternal life. You can go through life and never commit murder, adultery, never steal or lie, honoring your parents, and still go to hell.

Because the greatest and foremost commandment is,

Matt. 22:37 ...YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and WITH ALL YOUR MIND.

If you haven't followed this commandment, then the other 9 aren't going to balance it out. This guy's love was not primarily toward God, but toward his riches. Jesus gives him the solution to find eternal life:

Mark 10:21 ..."One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess, and give to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me."

This isn't the solution for everybody. What he was saying to all Christians is that we must follow commandment number 1.

10:23-27 Hard For The Wealthy

Remember that we are to enter the kingdom like children - with total dependence. When we've got enough money, we're not dependent on God. Jesus knows that when we have a full bank account, we have an empty prayer life.

In the parable of the sower, Jesus told us that the seed sown among thorns was choked out of any fruitfulness because of the deceitfulness of riches. The church in Laodicea had a problem. They were saying,

Rev. 3:17 ..."I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,"...

When we have riches, we don't see the need for God. Agur (Aw-GOOR) wrote in Proverbs 30,

Prov. 30:7-9 Two things I asked of Thee, Do not refuse me before I die: Keep deception and lies far from me, Give me neither poverty nor riches; Feed me with the food that is my portion, Lest I be full and deny {Thee} and say, "Who is the LORD?" Or lest I be in want and steal, And profane the name of my God.

Agur knew that if he had too much, he would deny the Lord and say, "Who is He?"

Through The Eye Of A Needle

Maybe you've heard teachings about a small city gate called "the eye of the needle." During historical times when cities had walls around them, the main gate would be closed at night to protect against attack.

It has been said that The story is told that if a traveler arrived at the city after the gate was closed, the only way he could get in would be to take all of his supplies and bags off the camel, get it to bend or kneel down, and push it through this tiny gate called "the eye of the needle". Hence, Jesus' expression, "a camel through the eye of a needle". There are two problems with that little story:

1) It has been proven by historians to be a false story concocted by Israeli tour guides.

2) Jesus said, "With men it is impossible." But this story claims that it is possible, just a lot of work. Unfortunately, many people, like this rich young ruler, believe that with enough work, with enough good deeds, they're going to make it it. They believe that with enough pushing and pulling, with enough willpower, they can save themselves.

Paul told us in Ephesians,

Eph. 2:8 -9 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, {it is} the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast.

When we are all standing before the throne of God in heaven, not one person is going to be able to say, "Hey, I made it here by my good deeds, with a lot of work."

10:28-31 We Have Left Everything

Notice that Peter immediately jumps in with "Hey, Lord, we've left everything to follow you." Have you ever noticed that when one of your children is in trouble, the other one tries to score points? "Mom, can I set the table?" "Dad, would you like me to rake the leaves?" It happens at home, it happens in the workplace. When one guy at work is in hot water, someone else is always there hoping to better his own position.

Jesus answers Peter, "You know what, Pete? If you have in fact left these things for My sake and the gospel's sake, you will be richly rewarded. But if you're just trying to jockey for position in the kingdom, to be first, you'll end up being last."

10:32-34 What Will Happen To Him

Again Jesus gives clear teaching to the apostles regarding what is going to happen to Him when they get to Jerusalem. But they still aren't getting it. They are hearing His teaching through the filter of their belief that He is going to rise to power, overthrow the yoke of Roman domination, and set up His earthly kingdom.

10:35-45 James And John

We've seen the apostles feuding with one another, trying to rise to the top of the heap. In chapter 9, we saw that...

Mark 9:34 ...on the way they had discussed with one another which {of them was} the greatest.

Then here was Peter a few verses ago trying to score points. After Peter made that statement, Jesus had told them (Matthew tells us, but Mark left it out),

Matt. 19:28 And Jesus said to them, "Truly I say to you, that you who have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on His glorious throne, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

Now here's James and John trying to make it into first and second place with a little side deal - they wanted their thrones to be on either side of His glorious throne.

The Cup Of Wrath

Jesus answers them by saying,

Mark 10:38 ..."You do not know what you are asking for. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?"

What was He talking about? What cup? What baptism? The cup He is talking about is the cup that the Father is going to give Him. He will pray in the Garden of Gethsemane,

Matt. 26:39 And He went a little beyond {them,} and fell on His face and prayed, saying, "My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as Thou wilt."

What was the cup? It was the cup of God's wrath - punishment for the sins of the people.

Jer. 25:15 For thus the LORD, the God of Israel, says to me, "Take this cup of the wine of wrath from My hand, and cause all the nations, to whom I send you, to drink it.

Ps. 75:8 For a cup is in the hand of the LORD, and the wine foams; It is well mixed, and He pours out of this; Surely all the wicked of the earth must drain {and} drink down its dregs.

Rev. 14:9-10 ...If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives a mark on his forehead or upon his hand, he also will drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is mixed in full strength in the cup of His anger; and he will be tormented with fire and brimstone...

Jesus willingly drank from this cup that you might be spared its contents.

The Baptism Of Death

The other thing waiting for Jesus was a baptism. There are four baptisms mentioned in Scripture: John's Baptism of Repentance, the baptism of the Spirit, this baptism that Jesus is talking about, and Christian baptism - which identifies us with the baptism that Jesus underwent.

The baptism was His being plunged and immersed into death. He said in Luke 12,

Luke 12:50 "But I have a baptism to undergo, and how distressed I am until it is accomplished!"

When we are baptized, we are identifying ourselves with the death of Christ.

Rom. 6:4 Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, in order that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.

Col. 2:12 having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.

When I baptize, the people are only held under the water for a second or two. When Jesus underwent His baptism, He was held under for three days.

10:46-52 Blind Bartimaeus

Bartimaeus had heard of Jesus, but had never seen Him. He needed his eyes opened, so he called out to Jesus, "Have mercy on me!" People tried to stop him, but he called out all the louder. At that point, Jesus called to him, and he was healed.

If you've heard of Jesus, but have never seen Him, you need to have your eyes opened - to go from spiritual blindness to sight. Call out to Jesus, "Have mercy on me." People might try to stop you - friends, family, coworkers... Don't let it faze you - cry out all the more. It is then that He will call to you, and you will be able to see.

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