1535.) Mark 10:1-31

One of Jesus’ best metaphors! “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” I have read where the “Eye of the Needle” was actually a small gate in Jerusalem, or that the word for “camel” is mistranslated and should be “cable.” I don’t buy either. I think Jesus just meant it to be outrageous, to get us thinking how useless riches are when it comes to us trying humbly to seek God.

One of Jesus’ best metaphors! “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” I have read that the “Eye of the Needle” was actually a small gate in Jerusalem, or that the word for “camel” is mistranslated and should be “cable.” I don’t buy either. I think Jesus just meant it to be outrageous, to get us thinking how useless riches are when it comes to us trying humbly to seek God.

Mark 10:1-31  (New Living Translation)

Discussion about Divorce and Marriage

1 Then Jesus left Capernaum and went down to the region of Judea and into the area east of the Jordan River. Once again crowds gathered around him, and as usual he was teaching them.

2 Some Pharisees came and tried to trap him with this question: “Should a man be allowed to divorce his wife?”

Mk10 just-married-car

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.
Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle’s compass come:
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

–William Shakespeare, Sonnet 116

3 Jesus answered them with a question: “What did Moses say in the law about divorce?”

4 “Well, he permitted it,” they replied. “He said a man can give his wife a written notice of divorce and send her away.”

5 But Jesus responded, “He wrote this commandment only as a concession to your hard hearts. 6 But ‘God made them male and female’ from the beginning of creation. 7 ‘This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, 8 and the two are united into one.’ Since they are no longer two but one, 9 let no one split apart what God has joined together.”

10 Later, when he was alone with his disciples in the house, they brought up the subject again. 11 He told them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries someone else commits adultery against her. 12 And if a woman divorces her husband and marries someone else, she commits adultery.”

Jesus Blesses the Children

13 One day some parents brought their children to Jesus so he could touch and bless them. But the disciples scolded the parents for bothering him.

14 When Jesus saw what was happening, he was angry with his disciples. He said to them, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children. 15 I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.” 16 Then he took the children in his arms and placed his hands on their heads and blessed them.

The Rich Man

Mk10 rich car

17 As Jesus was starting out on his way to Jerusalem, a man came running up to him, knelt down, and asked, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

18 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus asked. “Only God is truly good. 19 But to answer your question, you know the commandments: ‘You must not murder. You must not commit adultery. You must not steal. You must not testify falsely. You must not cheat anyone. Honor your father and mother.’”

20 “Teacher,” the man replied, “I’ve obeyed all these commandments since I was young.”

21 Looking at the man, Jesus felt genuine love for him. “There is still one thing you haven’t done,” he told him. “Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

from This Day with the Master,
by Dennis F. Kinlaw

NO SALVATION WITHOUT RELATIONSHIP

There is an excuse that many of us use to get around the Law of God as it is given in the Ten Commandments.  We reason that the standard given in the commandments is an ideal one that is really unattainable.  It is a target for which to aim, but a person should not really expect to hit it.  Plus, it is part of the old covenant that is now past.

Jesus apparently did not feel this way.  When the rich ruler wanted to know how to inherit eternal life, Jesus pointed him to the commandments.  In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus takes portions of the Decalogue and extends their claims on us.  He does not relax them.

We often speak as if keeping the Law would be a heavy burden.  But how would keeping the Law be a burden?  Do we really believe that living with a divided heart is easier than living with a single heart?  Is our life any richer if we look to the creation for what only the Creator can give us?  Must we deal profanely with holy things like the name of the Lord and his Sabbath?  Are we better off having no respect for those who gave us life?  Do we have to live with deadly hate for any of our fellow persons?  Is there no deliverance from the defilement and the destructiveness of lust?  Can we come to the place where we can use language truthfully, even it if means our own hurt?  Can’t God make us content with what we have so we do not have to perpetually covet what is not our own?

Just to frame these questions ought to bring us to the conclusion that the Ten Commandments were not given to be an onerous burden and a structure to bind us.  Rather, the Decalogue is our charter of freedom.  The commandments are not a set of demands to bind us, but a tenfold promise of the freedom into which the Spirit of Christ wants to release us.  If I will let him flood me with his Spirit and with his love, there is not one commandment that I have to break today.  That is good news!

22 At this the man’s face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions.

23 Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the Kingdom of God!” 24 This amazed them. But Jesus said again, “Dear children, it is very hard to enter the Kingdom of God. 25 In fact, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!”

26 The disciples were astounded. “Then who in the world can be saved?” they asked.

27 Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But not with God. Everything is possible with God.”

28 Then Peter began to speak up. “We’ve given up everything to follow you,” he said.

29 “Yes,” Jesus replied, “and I assure you that everyone who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or property, for my sake and for the Good News, 30 will receive now in return a hundred times as many houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and property—along with persecution. And in the world to come that person will have eternal life. 31 But many who are the greatest now will be least important then, and those who seem least important now will be the greatest then.”

(During Mark, portions of this book will be presented to help us understand our faith more deeply than perhaps we have before.  I hope you enjoy learning more about Jesus as a Jewish man — and through these passages, see and appreciate more clearly the Jewish roots of our Christian faith.)

HOW TO ENTER THE KINGDOM

But the kingdom is not inevitable for everyone.  Because he is a merciful king, Jesus issues an invitation, not a command.  He will never force anyone to join but waits patiently for us to repent and follow him.  When Jesus spoke about receiving the kingdom of God (Luke 18:17), or entering the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 7:21), he wasn’t talking about how to get into heaven after we die, as many people have thought.  He was speaking about having the greatest life possible.  How?  By living under his reign through the power of his grace. And he was using a Jewish idiom to communicate his message.

One of the earliest and best-known sayings about the “kingdom of heaven” is one that commented on the Shema—the prayer of every faithful Jew, uttered morning and evening.  The Shema beings with Deuteronomy 6:4-5:  “Hear [Shema], O Israel:  The Lord our God, the Lord is one.  Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.”  The rabbis taught that anyone who prays this prayer with a sincere heart “receives upon himself the kingdom of heaven.”

Why did the rabbis associate the “kingdom of heaven” with this particular prayer?  They understood that people who made this daily commitment were mentally bowing down before God, “enthroning” him as their king.  Such people were proclaiming their faith in God and pledging to live under his reign.  To make this commitment had nothing to do with taking part in a political movement but everything to do with making an individual, spiritual decision.  This understanding fits completely with Jesus’ words that “the kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:21) . . .

Jesus also declared that “anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it” (Luke 18:17).  Notice that he didn’t say we are to receive it like teenagers testing the boundaries and pushing the envelope.  Nor are we to receive it like self-reliant adults, people who think they have it together.  No, we are to have the attitude of a small child responding with trust, dependence, delight, and a desire to please.

Remember what Jesus said to the wealthy young man who turned down a chance to become one of his disciples:  “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!” (Luke 18:24).  Jesus wasn’t talking about what the man needed to do to get into heaven after he died.  He was saying that the proud young ruler was refusing to accept God’s kingship over his life right then.  How difficult it is to choose God’s will over our own.

(pp. 192-194)

_________________________

Music:

HERE is Steve Green singing “Embrace the Cross.”

_________________________

New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
camel – eye of a needle.    https://taulantbytyqii.files.wordpress.com/2013/10/camelneedle.jpg
Just married.     https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2015/03/4b54b-just-married-car.jpg
Brink.    http://annecbrink.com/galleries/visiblekingdom/Mark/fullsize/WIB02004_Jesus_Blesses_the_Children_fs.jpg
rich man with car.   https://christfromtheheart.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/very-rich-ryruler.jpg
tablets of the Law.     http://rpmedia.ask.com/ts?u=/wikipedia/commons/thumb/8/83/The10Commandments.png/250px-The10Commandments.png
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