Mark 10:17-40

The impossibility of attaining the Kingdom while loving possessions, v17-31

Jesus does not deny great rewards to those who follow him, both in the present age and in the age to come, but it must be thoroughly understood that suffering will be a real part in the life of the church, for in the very next passage (10:32-24) Jesus reaffirmed the truth prophetically of his rejection, suffering, death, and resurrection, and that is who we are following! Today nobody talks about “INHERITING” eternal life, but we do talk about deserving salvation, like as if we have been good enough, and if someone who is relatively “good” ends up in hell, then how can God be “love”? Love surely couldn’t do that! Why? Because deep down, most people really believe the Kingdom of Heaven is reserved for people who sin less, instead of people who have all their sin forgiven by Christ’s blood. Perhaps the rich young ruler believed that if he obeyed enough rules, then he could have the least amount of sins which could qualify himself to inherit eternal life, simply because he was a “good enough” Jew. Sadly, his sin was his heart-felt idolatry in his possessions. Any kind of idolatry will prohibit our own forgiveness because idolatry itself is sin. Our God in Jesus Christ will not tolerate ANY OTHER god put before Him in our life. Matthew 4:10 & 6:24, “You Cannot Serve God & Money”. Our God is a jealous God and a consuming fire, Exodus 34:14 & Heb. 12:29.

The persecutions mentioned in v30, are a very real reminder of how our Christ-like example is a target for worldly people’s hate, even while we are blessed by the Lord, it is mingled with trials. Paul reminds us of how he was content in whatever state his physical lifestyle was in, and yet pain was a very real price he paid for the faith we have in Christ, Philippians 4:11-13. 

The phrase, v31, “First will be last and the last, first” is a principle of the Kingdom’s nature, and perhaps the best example can be seen in Mat. 11:11, where Jesus points out that the greatest is John the immersionist. Can you imagine being on an equal footing with John, the cousin of Jesus?

Christ’s third prediction of His own passion, death & resurrection, v32-34

Mark records all three occasions of Jesus wanting his disciples to know about the suffering, death & resurrection of the Son of Man. The word “Teach” is used in Mk. 8:31 & 9:31, but here in Mk 10:32, Mark records more details of his foreknowledge. The mocking was prophesied, Psa. 22:6-13, the spitting was prophesied, Isa. 50:6, the stripes were prophesied in Isa. 53:5. Even the means by which they would kill him was prophesied in Zech. 12:10, especially when you put this prophecy next to the words of Jesus concerning the “Lifting Up” of the Son of Man as the bronze snake Moses had lifted up. We can tell Jesus knew exactly what was about to happen, John 3:14. The charge of condemning the Son of Man is laid upon the “Chief Priests & Experts in the Law”, and this is what happens when he tells Pilate who washes his hands of the death sentence, Jn. 19:11. Yet he shows determination to meet his enemies in Jerusalem. What kind of determination do we have in following him?

The inadequacies of the disciples, v35-40After the first passion prediction Jesus rebuked Peter as having been used by Satan. After the second passion prediction the disciples were concerned about who would be the greatest in the kingdom. After the third passion prediction James and John asked for positions of honor and rulership in the kingdom, revealing their complete misunderstanding of the nature of the kingdom and exposing their inadequacy as true disciples of Jesus. Their words “We are able” must be the epitome of naivety, for they had no idea what costly peril and pain lay before them. Jesus replied that such positions were for those for whom it has been prepared. This appointment of glory was exclusively in the Father’s hand & knowledge.

Mark 10:1-16

“God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous” Hebrews 13:4

10:1-9, The Pharisees were well known for debating the different legit reasons for divorce in their day and time, but despite their differences, they all knew what the Law of Moses said about divorce, Duet. 24:1-4.  So why use this question to test Jesus? He was single, he was powerful and he was at the height of his popularity. What kind of test were they making for him? A test to see whose side he would take, because legally, he must say “yes”, then the conversation could digress into taking sides about what reasons were legit and which reasons were not. However, Jesus pointed them to the Father’s will, not the law. A good lesson for each of us today.

10:10-12, Matthew 5:32 & 19:9, Mark 10:11-12 & Luke 16:18, all record the statement from Jesus about committing adultery if someone marries a divorcee. However, Matthew is the only gospel that includes an exception, and it’s repeated! For the innocent spouse who is divorced because of sexual immorality of the other immoral spouse, a charge of adultery is not made, the innocent spouse is free to be married to someone else. At first glance this seems contradictory but it isn’t if we consider that the marriage vow/covenant was broken by sexual immorality, not a certificate of dismissal. The basis of our word having integrity is important to God when making vows, see Matthew 5:33-37. If a hard heart is betrayed & hurt by the sexual immorality of the offending spouse, then divorce is allowed. But if a soft heart is betrayed & hurt by sexual immorality then forgiveness is allowed.

10:13-16, Jesus believes that if Parents want their children blessed, they should bring them to him and he will bless them. Do Parents still believe this? If yes, how do Parents show this to be true? The Church is the hands & feet of the body of Christ and it is our responsibility to “touch” their lives with the love and message of Christ to bless each one of them. Shame on any congregation that neglects children whose Parents bring them! “The Kingdom of God belongs to such”. Christ’s ruling domain over the hearts of men and women is a good way to describe the Kingdom of God. Little children are so ready and able to trust their parents rule over them that they are sometimes endangered by abusive parents. We as Christians have a Sovereign Father in Christ whom we should trust as readily as a little child trusts their mom and dad. For an adult to believe and trust the Father who rules over a Kingdom is to enter God’s Kingdom by doing what God says. Children are a picture of simple trust that illustrates what faith is all about. The remark “receive the kingdom of God like a child” illustrates how everyone is important to God, even people who others regard as insignificant. If they can trust & obey, they are subjects of an Eternal Kingdom in Christ. The powerful victory prophesied by those who receive the Kingdom is made in Daniel 7:13-18. Jesus will return to fulfill this in each genuine Christian. It should be noted that when Jesus performed a resurrection of the dead, the ultimate power, it was upon 2 children and his friend Lazarus. Luke 7:11-18 & 8:40-56, John 11:38-44. We are in the eternal unshakeable Kingdom now, Colossians 1:13.

MARK 9:30-50

v30-32, “The Son of man….into the hands of men”, Here a play on words points us to the irony of his own reign over humanity being given over by himself to his own kinsmen to betray, beat and slaughter him as the perfect sacrifice of love for the very people who would try to destroy him. The necessity that the Son of Man must suffer & die is the point that needed emphasis, because for many 1st century Jews the Messiah was a glorious and powerful figure, not a suffering one.

v33-37, Capernaum became the hub of Jesus’ Galilean ministry, Mt. 4:13 & Mk. 2:1. In modern times the site was discovered in 1838 by the American explorer E. Robinson, and major excavations began in 1905 by German archaeologists H. Kohl and C. Watzinger. But in 1968, remains from the time of Jesus were visible; Mr. Corbo & Mr. Loffreda began a series of annual archaeological efforts that lasted until 1985. They uncovered what might be the house of Simon Peter as well as ruins of a first century synagogue.

This word “Welcome” is a verb, δέχομαι (dechomai), a term of hospitality! The action of Jesus taking children into his arms is repeated in 10:16 and how could anyone paint a more lovelier image of Jesus than this! What do you think is the first step in becoming “the servant of all”?

v38-48, the fact that others were able to work this miracle of exorcism, when the 12 disciples were unable in the last chapter, had to be somewhat embarrassing, and yet they were arguing about who amongst them would be ‘great’. Why would anyone need to be following them? The point we must emphasize is that we only follow Jesus, not other Christians! An eternal reward for meeting the smallest of needs of people who bear the name of Christ must be pointing to the promise in Revelation 14:13.

The word for “hell” is Gehenna, or “The valley of Hinnom”, located on the southside of Jerusalem, the public place for incinerating excrement, the corpses of unknown vagrants and rubbish, the smell must of have been horrible, and was symbolically referred to as the place of divine punishment. The blunt language of v47 must make it clear to us that a Christian’s life with no real repentance is a totally wasted life and forfeits your own salvation. Jesus taught repentance with much more emphasis than baptism!
v49-50, to be “salted with fire”, must be a reference to Lev. 2:13, and for Christians this means the suffering of purification, and for unbelievers it means eternal torment, where suffering is preserved. Salt was used as seasoning or fertilizer, or as a preservative. If salt ceased to be useful, it was thrown away. With this illustration Jesus warned about a disciple who ceased to follow him. For salt to lose it’s flavor is a practical impossibility but the background of the saying is the use of salt blocks by ancient bakers to line the floor of their ovens. Under the intense heat these salt-blocks would eventually crystallize and undergo a change in chemical composition, finally being thrown out as unserviceable. Genuine salt can never lose its flavor. In this case the saying by Jesus here may be like Matthew 19:24, where it is likewise impossible for the camel to go through the eye of a sewing needle.

Mark 8:27-9:29

8:27-30, Luke 9:20 adds “Christ of God”, and Matthew 16:15, uses the word “Son” indicating what kind of Christ he is. Jews in those days believed there would be different kinds of Messiahs/Christs, but God promised only one, Gal. 3:16. Every reference to this inquiry Jesus made, emphasized his Messiahship. So the different words related to describing him as the Christ, was an introduction to the world that Jesus was any and every kind of Messiah they could expect. (John 6:69 & 11:27)

8:31-33, “teaching” the disciples about his suffering, death and resurrection is very different from just telling or proclaiming it. Matthew 16:21 says “show”, which tells us he was getting to the details and purpose! v33, The idea of “Setting your Mind” on the things of God, demands a committed conviction to consciously concentrate your thinking on to Christ and no one else, for he cares for you, and has the power to do what needs to be done, where we do not, 1st Peter 5:7.

8:34-9:1, The experience of the coming kingdom will be cognitive, in reality coming to learn of an event by the five senses most human beings have, they would not experience it, solely by thought in learning, reading and thinking, but by the active experience of feeling the coming kingdom in their environment physically. They will be alive, it will happen before some of them die, that generation will not (in the most adamantly negative sense) die first before God’s kingdom comes to earth! This is one of the most astounding prophecies Jesus makes, because there are critics alive to try and prove him false, amongst the generation that would see it fulfilled. Yet they could do nothing to prevent it from happening and indeed it came to fulfillment in Acts 2.  The power of the kingdom by the Spirit affected and/or benefited thousands of people from at least 15 different nationalities., Never in the ministry of Jesus did the power (DYNAMIS – Mk. 9:1) of God bless so many people all at once., Act. 2:1-11, WORKS of God. In Acts 2:2, the presentation was with a sound of BIAIOS (violent force) wind, but no damage! In Acts 2:11, the result felt by everyone was described as “Wonderful Works” MEGALEIOS, or magnificent favor/grace from the message that sound of forceful wind presented.The apostles message powerfully established the Kingdom which Jesus initiated.

9:2-13, The Transfiguration of Jesus gives his closest disciples a look into God’s glory which is truly other-worldly. Yet, even since he received this powerful demonstration of glory, he still felt trauma in going to His cross. This work of encouragement to strengthen Jesus for the coming sacrifice, would only serve as a memory. Fore-warned is fore-armed! But we must learn as we follow Jesus, to use the memory we have of blessings in the past, to help feed our endurance for staying faithful and standfast during temptations. He still needed an angel in Gethsemane to spur him on to persevere in suffering and complete the sacrifice of his own life. As we count our blessings of answered prayers from the past, how will we stay faithful through future trials, if we do not use this Message of comfort, wisdom and prophecy? The transfiguration moved Jesus to pray in Jn. 17:24-26. Do we pray like this?

9:14-29, The failing of the disciples to cast out the demon, was blamed on a lack of faith and prayer. Jesus was adamantly frustrated at this dilemma with the disciples, but he still loved them. He proved his love by continuing to teach them. Their lack of faith v19, is spoken of and experienced by the prophets of old, Duet. 32:10-20, yet God still brought Jesus into the world through them. The miracle of healing the boy came out of desperation by the Father crying for help with his weak faith, or rather the unbelief of his belief. This should teach Christians for all time, that we can not follow Jesus with a half-hearted faith, but that we must be totally devoted and rely on only him for wisdom, forgiveness and strength to do what is right. If we only rely on him for salvation at the end of our days? What will the entirety of our daily life be like? Very much filled with failings to do what is right.

Mark 8:1-26

4000 Naturally Hungry & Miraculously Fed, 1-10

How did the logistics of this miracle benefit the hungry? Look closely at verse 6. The disciples of Jesus were to distribute the food. This is a creative miracle, not a healing one, it was issued by Jesus, but demonstrated by the disciples and felt by the hungry people that ate. What role do you play in the distribution of God’s word, which is sometimes described as food, milk or meat? (1st Cor. 3:2 & Heb. 5:12) The word of God is nourishing and full of life-giving wisdom for salvation. Not only is it nourishing, but it’s also appetizing, or appealing. The New Testament has an allurement in it’s message of purity, love and power. The holiness of God is beautiful. 1st Chron. 16:29, 2nd Chron. 20:21, Psa. 29:2 & 96:9

The Demand for a Sign. v11-13

The obvious miracles already publicly performed by Jesus did not suffice as evidence for the Pharisees. To them, Jesus wasn’t proven to be the Christ, or that he was even truly from God as a prophet. The Pharisees had an attitude that demanded more signs specifically to meet their personal criteria that would prove to them that Jesus was from God. This can only be understood as arrogance and is written by Mark, that sounds almost like an insult to the Pharisees. Which isn’t surprising, since many people already knew they were conspiring with their enemies the Herodians to try and test, try and tempt Jesus into making a mistake.

Warnings Against “Leaven” of Pharisees & Herodians, 14-21

Leaven isn’t always a bad thing, but in this context it is spreading sin and not complementing righteousness (Mt. 13:33). The disciples didn’t really understand what Jesus was talking about until Matthew 16:11-12, Mark doesn’t mention their enlightenment. What exactly was the leaven of the Pharisees? See Luke 12:1. What exactly is the leaven of the Herodians? It could be a type of hypocrisy that puts up a front of wisdom and power, when really they are foolishly flaunting sin and trying to make it look good, smart and productive. Doesn’t that sound personally familiar?

Two Stages of Healing, v22-26Here is yet another unique passage no other gospel shares. In chapter 8, We don’t have anyone who begins to understand who Jesus is. Not even the twelve disciples. They can’t imagine where they’ll get enough bread to feed these people, v4. They completely misinterpret Jesus’ bread metaphor, v6. And Mark makes explicit the fact that they can neither see nor hear, v18. In other words, they do not yet understand who he is, v21. But Jesus can heal the deaf, 7:31-37. And he can heal the blind, 8:22-26. Perhaps his two attemptsto train the disciples will pay off and enable them to see clearly! What about you and me? Doesn’t it take quite a few times of God trying to say, teach or bless us, before we get it!?!?!

Mark 7:24-37

v24-30, The Power of Humility!

The prophet Isaiah promised the Messiah/Christ would not be pulling Public Relation stunts to get attention, in fact he deliberately tried to do some work quietly, but his powerful love was so strong in every community, he couldn’t keep his work private even when he wanted to, see Isaiah 42:2. If we want to follow Jesus, we will make the same effort, no matter how vain, remember what Paul told Timothy about his good works, 1st Tim. 5:25. On the subject of the daughter’s mother, there is no arrogance, rightful pride, or over-zealous insistence that Jesus should help her. She knows her true position before God, and replies in humility. Her begging on behalf of her daughter is not a demand, it is a humble request. This truly is the way we should pray, according to God’s will, for this is the will of God, stay humble! Even the apostle Paul called himself the least of all the saints, Eph. 3:8, and he helped many many people who were victims and so can we!

v31-37, The Power of Intercession!

Again, Jesus tries to work privately, but to no avail. His powerful mercy amazes everyone, he can’t even get people to stay calm and quiet about the miraculous mercy he shares. Christ’s one word, (EPHPHATHA) with one touch, the one drop of saliva! Healed instantly! We today physically have no way of him so intimately touching anyone, but we do have all of his words we could ever desire. The real question is: Do we desire his power to live righteous lives, regardless of our physical plight? Every physical healing Jesus performed intimately while he was physically present, is a demonstration of the Father’s living will to instantly give spiritual healing while he is spiritually present! Do you believe in this powerful truth? Never forget this and take great faith in the facts explained in John 9:1-5. 

Very often in the scriptures, not always, but here, we see faith in the real source of real power being demonstrated by people other than the victim. Christians should express faith in God’s love for victims who are helpless, like the little daughter and the deaf/mute man. Do you have any victims in your family?… in your circle of friends or in this congregation? How do we express our faith in the real Healer, the great physician, Jesus.

The friends of the deaf/mute man were “beseeching” or begging Jesus. Many times in the New Testament we are reminded of how Christians are to pray for the salvation of lost souls, look closely at 1st TIm. 2:4, Romans 10:1 & Php. 1:9-11 and there are a few other examples.  There is no greater or more pressing need for people than to be saved, forgiven and growing in the grace & knowledge of Christ. Christians are often the only “letter” (2 Cor. 3:3-6) unbelievers will read, in order to meet the great Physician, Christ. He is the only Mediator, 1st Tim. 2:5. And yet, we are interceding.  Why? Because, ““The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2nd Cor. 4:4).

Mark 7:1-23

This passage is unique, in that it’s the only record in the New Testament, explaining why Jews do what they do in their oral traditions from the law of Moses. It is one of the reasons most Christians believe the gospel of Mark was written to a non-Jewish audience, maybe even Rome itself.  “Unclean hands” are not dirty hands, they are hands which have not gone through “ritual washing”. Here are passages instructing hand washing for Priests (Ex. 30:19, 21, 40:31) For anyone with bodily fluids issued (Lev. 15:11), for anyone touching corpses (Dt. 21:6). None of these verses reference meal preparation! They weren’t interested in hygiene, it was about making your hands spiritually clean to receive God’s blessings or to do God’s work. The same thought is connected with lifting “holy” hands in prayer, 1st Tim. 2:8, yet there was no washing for Peter and Christians, because our whole life is made acceptable, that is holy by the blood of Christ. But if we don’t live a life worthy (sin) of this good news of holiness by His blood, then we make ourselves unacceptable by our sinfulness, not by the fact that we do not wash our hands. What do Christian wash to become acceptable to God? See 1st Peter 3:20-21.

In the eyes of the Pharisees, “The tradition of the elders” was sort of a test case for whether or not Jesus and his disciples respected the Law of Moses. The Pharisees assumed that the best way to obey the Law of Moses and respect God was to “hold fast to many traditions”. But Jesus wanted to show them that to obey the Law should be about doing what it says, regardless of the fathers’ traditions. Even in the most simple commandment of honoring your parents, Ex. 20:12 & Dt. 5:16, a child could exempt themselves by gifting money to God in the Temple, and that money would replace their obligation to help (honor) their parents. In God’s eyes, Jesus saw this as having “no regard for the command of God”, v8. But Jews regarded Jesus and his disciples as “defiled” because what they ate was eaten with hands not washed.  When Jesus stated that “what comes out of a person is what defiles him” v15, what was he talking about?

Do we as the church have any traditions which would excuse us from doing what Christ actually says we should do? Think about it, pray about it, and watch out for any traditions/practices that we may be doing that would actually be replacing what Christ tells us to do.

This list of sins in Mark 7:21-22 provides nothing unexpected (we see similar lists in Romans 1:29-31; Galatians 5:19-21, and 2 Timothy 3:2-5), it adds another layer of meaning to Jesus’ message. Each of these particular vices is, in some way, a sin of consumption. Adultery, theft, avarice, envy, pride — each of these springs from a desire to take, to grasp, to own, to devour. The corruption of the human heart is rooted in our desire to bare our fangs into other things, other than the enemy! This is why Jesus does not reject purity laws here. It turns out that our consumption (or lack thereof) does affect our hearts. If our desire for self-satisfaction is allowed to run rampant, we become insatiable consumers: of things, of course, but also of pleasure, of people, even of our own energy. (How good do you actually feel after spending a day binge-watching something on Netflix?) Bare your fangs into what is wrong (the enemies), and kill it! If you’ve got the desire to attack anything, attack sin. “All these evils come from within and defile a person”, v23