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108. Questions about divorce (Matthew 19:1-12; Mark 10:1-12; Luke 16:18)
Again the Pharisees tried to trap Jesus into saying something that would give them grounds to accuse him of error. This time they chose the subject of divorce, where different viewpoints among Jewish teachers often caused arguments. Jesus referred them back to God’s original standard, which was that a man and a woman live together, independent of parents, in a permanent union (Matthew 19:1-6). Moses set out laws to limit divorce and introduce some order into a very disorderly community. He permitted divorce not because he approved of it, but because people had created problems through their disobedience. Under normal circumstances divorce should not be allowed at all, though there may be an exception in the case of adultery (Matthew 19:7-9; cf. 5:31-32).
The disciples thought that if a man had to be bound to his wife in such a way, maybe it would be safer not to marry. Jesus replied that marriage was the normal pattern for adult life, though not necessarily the pattern for everyone. Some may choose not to marry, possibly because of physical defects or possibly because they want to serve God without the hindrances that may be created by family responsibilities (Matthew 19:10-12).
109. Jesus blesses the children (Matthew 19:13-15; Mark 10:13-16; Luke 18:15-17)
Many people thought that they could gain entrance into the kingdom of God through their own efforts. Jesus referred to the children gathered around him to illustrate that this was not so (Mark 10:13-14). People must realize that in relation to entering his kingdom they are as helpless and dependent as children. There is no room in his kingdom for those who hold high opinions of themselves, or who think they will gain eternal life through their wisdom or good works (Mark 10:15-16).
110. The rich young man (Matthew 19:16-30; Mark 10:17-31; Luke 18:18-30)
A wealthy young man came to Jesus and asked what special deeds he should do to gain eternal life. Jesus responded that there was no need to ask him, because God had already told him in the Ten Commandments what he should do (Matthew 19:16-19). The man boasted that he had kept most of the commandments, but Jesus saw that at least he had failed in the last, which said ‘Do not covet’. While people around him were suffering from hunger and poverty, he was building up wealth. His desire for comfort and prosperity prevented him from giving himself to God, and so prevented him from receiving eternal life. If he wanted eternal life, he would have to get rid of the things that stood in its way (Matthew 19:20-22).
Wealth makes people independent of others, and for this reason the rich often find it difficult to acknowledge that they are not independent of God. Their wealth makes them no better in God’s sight than anyone else. As a result few of the rich enter the kingdom of God. Actually, no one at all could enter that kingdom apart from the work of God. By his grace he accepts those who humble themselves before him (Matthew 19:23-26).
Nevertheless, those who make sacrifices for the sake of Jesus will find that what they receive in eternity is incomparably greater than anything they may have lost in the present world. They may have to sacrifice wealth, status, family or friends, but in the age to come they will reign with Christ (Matthew 19:27-30).
112. The request of James and John (Matthew 20:17-28; Mark 10:32-45; Luke 18:31-34)
As Jesus journeyed towards Jerusalem, he again spoke of his coming death and resurrection, but again his disciples misunderstood. They were still thinking mainly of an earthly kingdom of political power (Matthew 20:17-19; Mark 10:32-34).
James and John therefore came to Jesus with a request that they might have the top positions in the kingdom (Matthew 20:20-21; Mark 10:35-37). Jesus, by using the words ‘cup’ and ‘baptism’ as symbols of his suffering and death, showed them that he had to suffer and die before he could enjoy the triumph and glory of his kingdom. They still did not understand, and boldly stated that they were prepared to suffer with him. Jesus replied that they would indeed suffer for his sake (cf. Acts 12:2; Revelation 1:9), but their position in the kingdom was dependent on the Father alone. And he showed no favouritism (Matthew 20:22-23; Mark 10:38-40).
In wanting to be ahead of the other apostles, James and John probably had Peter particularly in mind, but all the other apostles were angry when they discovered what had happened. Jesus then repeated and expanded teaching he had given earlier about the difference between worldly and spiritual greatness (cf. Mark 9:33-35). In the kingdoms of the world people compete with each other to achieve power, but in the kingdom of God true greatness comes from humble and willing service. The perfect example is Jesus himself, who at that time was about to lay down his life so that people in bondage to sin might be set free (Matthew 20:24-28; Mark 10:41-45).
113. Blind men near Jericho (Matthew 20:29-34; Mark 10:46-52; Luke 18:35-43)
It seems that Jesus healed several blind beggars as he passed through Jericho (Matthew 20:29-30; Mark 10:46; Luke 18:35). The men were determined to attract the attention of Jesus and called out loudly, addressing him by his messianic title, son of David. Jesus called the men to him, and although he clearly saw their need, he asked them what they wanted. He wanted them to declare their faith boldly, and thereby strengthen it. In response to their expression of faith, Jesus healed them (Matthew 20:31-34; Mark 10:47-52).
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Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on Mark 10". "Fleming's Bridgeway Bible Commentary". https://studylight.org/
the Fourth Week after Epiphany