JESUS AND THE BEGGAR

MARK 10:46-52

BRIEF INTRO: As we enter the last section of chapter ten, we read about the healing of a blind man named Bartimaeus. This serves as another transitional passage in Mark’s gospel. “In the conclusion of this section, the renewed sight of Bartimeaus, a man who recognizes the identity of Jesus and follows Him in the way, stands in contrast to the ongoing difficulty of the disciples, who struggle to see clearly what it means to follow Jesus.” 

This account also points us to and builds the bridge for Christ’s “triumphal entry” in the next chapter, as Bartimaeus cries out to Jesus using the title “Son of David” (vv. 47-48)! In that account, the “crowd takes up the perspective of Bartimeaus, calling out their blessings toward Jesus and the coming kingdom of David” (11:9-10). 

46 Then they *came to Jericho. And later, as He was leaving Jericho with His disciples and a large crowd, a beggar who was blind named Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, was sitting by the road. 47 And when he heard that it was Jesus the Nazarene, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 48 Many were sternly telling him to be quiet, but he kept crying out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” 49 And Jesus stopped and said, “Call him here.” So they *called the man who was blind, saying to him, “Take courage, stand up! He is calling for you.” 50 And throwing off his cloak, he jumped up and came to Jesus. 51 And replying to him, Jesus said, “What do you want Me to do for you?” And the man who was blind said to Him, “[a]Rabboni, I want to regain my sight!” 52 And Jesus said to him, “Go; your faith has [b]made you well.”And immediately he regained his sight and began following Him on the

FOCUS ONE: What do we learn about Jesus?

The first thing we learn about Jesus in this account is that He is the king who hears! As Jesus, the disciples, and “a great multitude” of people were going out from Jericho, a blind man named Bartimaeus was sitting by the road. As the roar of the crowd became louder and the air of excitement intensified, it became clear to Bartimeaus that Jesus the Nazarene was passing by.

At once, He begins to “cry out” to Him. In other words, He starts shouting, as loud as he can, to Jesus. He uses the term “Son of David” in his plea for help. This term for Jesus is a “messianic title.” When the people referred to Jesus in this way, they meant that He was the long-awaited deliver or messiah, who was the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies.

Sadly, many people in the crowd rebuked the blind man. Why wouldn’t they want Jesus to hear him? Why wouldn’t they want to see Jesus heal this man? Perhaps they were caught up in the “crowd mentality,” a mindset focused on one thing, their long-awaited deliver coming to deliver them from Roman rule, thereby restoring the kingdom and reclaiming political power back to the Jewish people. But their rebuke does not stop Bartimeaus, not at all. Their repeated attempts to silence him met with his repeated cries for help (v. 48).

We also learn that Jesus is the king who sees the faith of the needy (v.51). Jesus stops, calls him over to Himself, “and casting off his cloak, he jumped up, and came to Jesus” (v.50). 

 50 And throwing off his cloak, he jumped up and came to Jesus. 51 And replying to him, Jesus said, “What do you want Me to do for you?” And the man who was blind said to Him, “[a]Rabboni, I want to regain my sight!”

FOCUS TWO: What do we learn about a life of faith?

The beggar’s hope is rightly placed: People of faith set their hope on Jesus, our king (vv.47-48, 50). Nobody else could have healed this man from his physical dilemma, and nobody else can heal us from our spiritual sickness! Bartimeaus was exhorted to have courage and go to meet Jesus (v. 49). Instantly, he jumped up and went to Jesus.

Bartimeaus exhibits the type of faith each of us should have. A trust that “jumps” at the opportunity to go to Jesus for anything and everything we need because we believe wholeheartedly that He is willing and able to meet those needs. Confidence that He hears and sees us and wants a close, personal relationship with us. Why? Because He loves us!

52 And Jesus said to him, “Go; your faith has [b]made you well.”And immediately he regained his sight and began following Him on the road.

FOCUS THREE: What do we learn about our response to Jesus?

The way Bartimaeus responded to Jesus is a beautiful picture of how all those who believe in Him should react. People of faith follow Jesus out of gratitude for His grace (v.52). Mark tells us that after Jesus healed him, Bartimaeus “began following Him on the road” (v. 52). 

“Mark undoubtedly portrays the healed blind man in a literal sense as walking behind Jesus and heading with Him toward Jerusalem. However, the verb ἀκολουθέω can also have a “metaphorical” sense in Mark to indicate someone’s personal allegiance to Jesus and His teaching. This metaphorical meaning for ἀκολουθέω occurs whenever Mark refers to individuals following Jesus (1:18; 2:14; 8:34; 10:21,28; 10:52;14:54; 15:41). Therefore Mark’s point seems to be that Bartimaeus became a follower of Jesus.”

Bartimaeus responded rightly to Jesus, as many of you have reading this post. His response was immediate and led him to follow Christ. By “following Jesus,” I mean we witness a changed man! Not only physically because of the healing, but more importantly, spiritually, as Jesus granted him faith to believe!

He was willing to leave everything behind to walk in obedient faith to his Lord. He immediately began the journey on his new path in life that was prepared for by God! A journey now filled with hope, not despair; faith rather than fear.

Exegetical Guide to the Greek New Testament, pg. 181-184

FAULTY VIEWS OF PRAYER

      Have you ever felt uneasy about approaching God in prayer? Ever felt afraid, uncomfortable, or like He was probably sick and tired of listening to you? 

Many misconceptions about prayer exist:

Some say that its a one way street and they don’t like talking to themselves. Others think prayers ought to be soft, little meek statements in which we “beg” God for things we want. Some think that praying is boring. Others believe that talking to God once about something is enough and they have to use the right words or God won’t here them, much less answer their prayers. And lastly, there are those that think their prayers don’t make a difference.

All of these misconceptions come from a faulty view of God and what He accomplished for us in Christ.

These scriptures teach us about God:

  1. Numbers 23:19 (He is not like us, not human)
  2. Psalm 18:30 (His ways are perfect, He is a protector)
  3. Matthew 6:26 (He is caring, a provider)
  4. Psalm 50:6 (He is just)=  perfectly Fair; impartial in His treatment of his creation
  5. Psalm 116:5 (He is gracious, righteous, and full of compassion)
  6. James 1:17 (Immutable, meaning that He is unchanging)
  7. 1 Corinthians 10:13 (God is faithful)
  8. 1 Timothy 4:10 (He is the savior of all men)

Because God is all these things and more, we can cry out to Him with familial affection, “our Father who is in heaven!”

“It is life-changing to understand what it means to be able to call the one true God our “father!”and what it means to be “joint heirs with Christ. 

Because of our new relationship with God, our father, through the mediating work of Jesus Christ, His only begotten son, He no longer deals with us as enemies, instead, we can approach Him with boldness and confidence (Hebrews 10:19). 

The Holy Spirit has been given to us as a pledge, to mark us as His dear children. He testifies with our spirit that we are heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ (Romans 8:16-17)!

This is why we can call upon Him in prayer and petition Him as a loving father. That is why we can be confident that He hears us, loves us, and wants to do good for us. Remember, Jesus taught His disciples to pray then, and us now, through the written word because He wants to hear from us! This is why, as Hebrews 4:16 says, we can approach Him with confidence!!!

So, let’s do just that.

SELFISHNESS VS. SELF-LESS-NESS

Mark 10:35-45

BRIEF RECAP: Jesus had just finished expressing to the twelve that they were headed to Jerusalem (vv.33-34). There, He would be cruelly treated and condemned to death. But after three days, He would rise again! One would think this news, being the third time expressed to them, would be a solemn, self-searching moment, but it doesn’t appear to be that kind of moment.

Rather than self-reflection and preparation, we witness a very selfish and prideful request of Jesus from two of the three in the “inner circle” of the twelve, James and John! What was that request? What does it reveal about these two men and their mother (Matthew 20:20)? How did Jesus respond to them? We will seek the answers to these questions in this post.

[a]James and John, the two sons of Zebedee, *came up to [b]Jesus, saying to Him, “Teacher, we want You to do for us whatever we ask of You.” 36 And He said to them, “What do you want Me to do for you?” 37 They said to Him, “[c]Grant that we may sit, one on Your right and one on Your left, in Your glory.”

FOCUS ONE: The request (35-37)

We read that James and John approach Jesus (came up to Him). This means that they took the initiative and “journeyed” toward Him. They were some distance from Jesus at the time this thought of self-glory came into fruition and therefore had to travel some distance to get in His immediate presence.

These two men believe that Jesus is going to Jerusalem to set up His kingdom; ironically, Jesus just predicted His coming death and resurrection! They do not understand the nature of what Jesus came to do and therefore petition Jesus to “do for us whatever we ask of you” (v. 36). Perhaps we can credit them with ignorance even after all Jesus spoke to them, but as Matthew Henry so eloquently put it: “It was a culpable presumption in these disciples to make such a boundless demand upon their master.” That is their first mistake. Rather than presuming upon Christ the fulfillment of our desires, we should be happy and at peace, trusting Him to accomplish what He desires!

Although these two men spoke out of ignorance regarding Christ’s purpose, that doesn’t relieve them of the subsequent guilt revolving around the issues that stem from their hearts (selfishness, pride, and arrogance).

Once again, in Mark’s gospel, we witness the patience of Jesus. Go back and look at everything we have studied in this book. It would be a great encouragement for your daily walk of faith to be reminded of how extraordinary the patience of Christ is! Not only His patience but His wisdom too! Jesus asks them to qualify what they are requesting of Him (v. 36). “Grant that we may sit in Your glory, one on Your right, and one on Your left.”

38 But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?” 39 They said to Him, “We are able.” And Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you shall drink; and you shall be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized. 40 But to sit on My right or on My left is not Mine to give; but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.”

FOCUS TWO: Jesus responds (38-40)

Jesus responds by telling them they don’t understand what they are asking Him for. “To ask for a place of honor in His glory was also a request to share His suffering since the one is a requisite to the other.” Such a statement seems to call for a negative response from the two men. “The cup was a common Jewish metaphor either for joy (Psalm 23:5) or for divine judgement against human sin (Psalm 75:7-8; Jeremiah 25:15-28).” Jesus was applying the metaphor to Himself because He was about to bear the wrath of God’s justice against sin as a “substitute” for sinners (v. 10:45).

It is impossible to miss the noticeable contrast between James and John seeking a place of honor in the kingdom, without any sacrifice, and Jesus humbly sacrificing Himself for others as their King!

They reply that “we are able” to drink the cup that Jesus was about to drink and be “baptized by the baptism with which I am baptized.” Still, they do not understand His words to them. Jesus responds to their answer by “agreeing” with them that they will indeed drink of the cup and be baptized in the same baptism that He is. What does Jesus mean by “baptism?” Baptism means to be immersed or submerged.

Both these figures, cup and baptism, are figures used in a different sense. “In following Him, they would share His sufferings (1 Peter 4:13) even to death but not in a redemptive sense.” His prediction came true. James was the first apostle to be martyred (Acts 12:2), whereas John, who endured many years of persecution and exile, was the last apostle to die (John 21:20-23; Revelation 1:9).”

Unlike His previous response to James and John, Jesus tells them they will NOT be sitting on His right and left (v. 40). Why? Because only the Father had the authority to assign such places of honor. Jesus unapologetically states, “this is not mine to give.” In His answer, we get a glimpse of the “trinity” (Jesus and the Father)! Matthew adds “the Father” in His account (Matthew 21:23).

We also should notice that such places in the kingdom have “already” been prepared by God for those He has chosen (v. 25). 

41 Hearing this, the other ten began to feel indignant with [a]James and John. 42 Calling them to Himself, Jesus *said to them, “You know that those who are recognized as rulers of the Gentiles domineer over them; and their [b]people in high position exercise authority over them. 43 But it is not this way among you; rather, whoever wants to become [c]prominent among you shall be your servant; 44 and whoever wants to be first among you shall be slave of all. 45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His [d]life as a ransom for many.”

FOCUS THREE: The indignant ten (41-45)

Jesus’ response contrasts how earthly rulers conduct themselves with how God’s followers conduct themselves. He taught them that those who follow Him would lead others in humility and love, not out of pride and lust for authority. Pride, power, arrogance, and selfishness contrasted with humility, selflessness, and mutual submission.

Again, we find another well-known area of misunderstanding regarding how the disciples think concerning their ministries. “Whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant; and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be a slave of all” (v.43).

The contrast is not between “two ways of ruling,” but between ruling (good or bad) and serving. They are not to oppress those in their authority. They are not to exploit others. But, he should serve others by “doing nothing out of selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself” (Philippians 2:3).

After all, this is the reason Christ came to earth, and it is our divinely given example to follow (v. 45; Philippians 2:5-11). 

How can you apply what you learned in this study in your life of service to the King of kings?

The Bible Knowledge Commentary, pg. 152

GRIEF HAS ITS SEASON

Extended reading: Ecclesiastes 3:1-15

Devotional reading: Verse 4

“A time to cry and a time to laugh.
    A time to grieve and a time to dance.”

It’s ok to grieve. You’re not alone and you’re not abnormal. You are a healthy person expressing deep anguish over the heart-rending loss of someone near and dear to you. The emotional turmoil you are facing is normal and healthy, but it needs to be worked through in a biblical way.

The writer of these lines is using sharp contrasts to express an important reality. From crying to laughing and grieving to dancing we can acknowledge a vast distance between the two.

None of them are forever. We may laugh and dance during the celebration of a wedding or graduation. But laughing and dancing is only for a season. Then, at some point in our earthly existence, we experience the death of someone we love and cherish.

Our laughter turns into crying and our dancing into grieving. Such things are inevitable BUT not insurmountable!

In these eight verses the writer directs our thoughts to a higher plane, a better place. He reminds us that God is in complete control of everything that happens, even the death of a spouse or other ones we love (v.14). He is the One who set the times for all these events.

I believe we grieve so deeply, not only because of our loss, but also because we do not understand the “full scope” of God’s eternal plans (v. 11). We cannot change what God has allowed, but we shouldn’t let those things we don’t understand drag us down and hold us there.

We can have hope and confidence in this: Just like our season of dancing at some point will turn into grieving, so too will our crying turn into laughter once again (v. 12-13).

GOING TO JERUSALEM

Mark 10:32-34

BRIEF INTRO:  This section of Mark ten is very important to the writing as a whole (context), and I want to take some time and “zoom” into it. I know we have heard these words repeatedly, that Jesus was going to Jerusalem where He would be delivered into the hands of men and be killed and rise again, but where repetition is in play, we need to look closer.

Jerusalem is mentioned several times in this gospel. The first couple is references regarding various people coming from Jerusalem (Mark 1:5; 3:8; 3:22; 7:1). The other three, the ones mentioned after the shift in Christ’s focus and travels, are found in the latter part of his writing (Mark 10:32-34; 11:1-27; 15:41). 

But Jerusalem is only one part of the picture that Christ highlighted for His disciples, as we will see in our first focus point.

33 saying, “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be [a]handed over to the chief priests and the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death and will [b]hand Him over to the Gentiles.

FOCUS ONE: The backstory

Jerusalem is vital to the storyline because, geographically, that is the place the passion events will take place. But, other scriptures explain to His disciples what would transpire when they got there! 

Mark 9:9-12 is the first mention of Jesus’ suffering and death. At the Transfiguration, Jesus does not lay it out in great detail, as He does later, but He does tell Peter, James, and John that He “will suffer many things” and “the Son of man should rise from the dead.” Later, in Mark 9:31, Jesus instructs all of the disciples and tells them that He would be delivered into the hands of men, and they would kill Him, and He would rise again.

Mark 10:33-34 is the most complete statement of Jesus regarding what will happen to Him in Jerusalem. He tells them that “we are going to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be (delivered) to the chief priests and the scribes; they will condemn Him to death, and will (deliver Him) to the Gentiles.” “They will mock Him and spit  upon Him and scourge Him and kill Him and three days later He will rise again.”

In Mark 12:1-11, we find Jesus using a parable to teach. This parable is about the nation of Israel rejecting Him and killing Him. Yes, the ones Jesus said He would be “delivered over to.” Don’t forget that the gentiles also played a part in this (10:33b).

 As this narrative keeps moving forward, we read about the Lord instituting “the Lord’s supper.” Mark 14:21-25 is where that is located and is a direct result of what is coming. It is a memorial for those who trust in Christ to “remember” what He bore on our behalf this day (suffering, death, bloodshed, and resurrection)!

And then, Just as Jesus told these men repeatedly, He is handed over to chief priests, Mark 14:45-53.

FOCUS TWO: Time is running out

Jesus graciously and patiently sought to prepare these twelve men for this event and its aftermath. But sadly, they missed the mark when it came to comprehending what Jesus was telling them. They didn’t get it, but I don’t believe we would have either. Most people cannot stay focused long enough to grasp hold of what matters in a sermon, lecture, or seminar. We are not disciplined enough to be focused. This holds true even today in churches all around the globe.

Here are a few of the disciples “didn’t get it verses:”

In Mark 4:10-13, Jesus is relaying His first parable. A parable is a rhetorical device used to explain the truth. Christ utilized this parable to teach these men that the way into the kingdom was by the gospel. Or, as stated elsewhere, “the foolishness of preaching.” This parable teaches that there is only one good ground that the gospel penetrates and produces fruit. All others will not provide gospel fruit. Many people may “hear” the gospel, but few will “accept” it and bear fruit (v. 20). Various reasons are given for this in the parable. They didn’t understand, and Jesus rebuked them.

Another place is in Mark 6: 34-37. The twelve had just come back from the mission Jesus sent them on (6:12). They did wonderful things by His power, and here we read that they do not comprehend who He is or His power and authority.

In Mark 6:52, Jesus walked on water. Sadly, we read, “they gained no insight from the incident because their heart was hardened.” Time and time again, we witness this sad truth. Here are a few others you can look up in your own study.

Mark 7:17-Regarding clean and unclean (The heart)

Mark 8 17-18 Leaven of Pharisees not understood (bread)

Mark 9:5-6-Transfiguration

Mark 9:32 -Regarding His death and resurrection 

Mark 10:35-Another evidence of a lack of understanding (James and John sit on the right and left)

After these, the events unfold much faster, and the time for preparation has ended!

34 And they will mock Him and spit on Him, and flog Him and kill Him; and three days later He will rise from the dead.

FOCUS THREE: The school of experience

As mentioned earlier, these words give a more detailed account of what is about to happen to Jesus in Jerusalem. Those words should have struck a chord with those men. “Condemn,” “mock,” “spit upon,” “scourge,” and “kill” are words that should have awakened their minds and hearts to what is coming. But, as the following verses reveal, that didn’t appear to happen.

We will delve into that account in our next post, but for now, let’s try to grasp the seriousness of the hour. Their travels will shortly find them in Jerusalem (11:1). There, they will be overtaken by the speed at which things begin to transpire. No more prep time. Jesus will enter that city, marking the “official” presentation of Himself to the nation of Israel as the rightful Son of David! He arrived precisely at the time Daniel prophesied (Daniel 9:25-26)!

It won’t be much longer until “the Son of Man is to go, just as it is written of Him” (14:21). Many such writings come from the Psalms, but from Genesis 3:15 onward throughout Isaiah, Micah, Zechariah, and others we read about all the things Jesus had spoken of! And better still, Jesus fulfilled every one of them; He is the only person that could!

It is then, amid all the turmoil, that these men will “get it.” Oh, there will be some setbacks, such as when they all flee the garden of Gethsemane after Judas betrays Jesus. Peter will deny Christ just as Christ told Him he would (14:30). But resurrection day comes, and these men are forever changed! The world will forevermore be changed because of their zeal for their messiah! They finally “get it!”

I hope and pray that the same can be said of us. I hope that the area of influence each of us has will be changed and will continue to be because of the life-transforming work of grace in our hearts. We, like the disciples of Jesus, should be forever changed! And that change should produce a zeal in our hearts that leads us to be faithful ministers of the gospel to those around us. 

THE DANGER OF PROCRASTINATING

Extended reading: Luke 14:16-21

Devotional reading: 2 Corinthians 6:2

” For God says, at just the right time, I heard you. On the day of salvation I helped you.” Indeed, for God is ready to help you right now. Today is the day of salvation.

Perhaps as you read the title of this devotional you uttered a semi- deep sigh and admitted, to yourself, that you are indeed a procrastinator. Thoughts of various situations flood your mind. The school report that was due before the semesters end, and you still didn’t start it. Two days left! Spring house cleaning. Wow, summer got here fast! Even setting up that doctor appointment that is very much needed.

Procrastinator’s are people that put off intentionally the doing of something that should be done. Does this definition describe you? Sure, we get frustrated with ourselves about this glitch in our lifestyle: even laugh about it at times. But is it something to be made light of?

Paul makes it clear to the Corinthians, and to us, that salvation is not something that we want to procrastinate over. Today is the day! God’s ready to save you. Putting His offer of forgiveness off as if it’s like some other school paper won’t work out well for you. You will end up like those people in Luke 14, mentioned above. Missing out on even the “smallest taste” of what God has prepared for those who come to Him in faith.

What He offers those who believe in Him is the forgiveness of their sins and a reconciled relationship with Him, their creator. So they can know Him and enjoy Him forever.

Today is the day- tomorrow may be to late- don’t procrastinate, God never does

How to enter the kingdom of God


Mark 10:13-31

BRIEF INTRO: 

“What must I do to be saved?” This is the million dollar question! From the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts eight, the jailer in Acts sixteen, and myriads of people ever since, that particular question has been asked time and time again. But that is not the issue in question in these scriptures. In this study, we will read about two different kinds of people. Those who are (like) the little children who came to Jesus in innocent trust; and those who are (like) the wealthy young man who trusted in his wealth and his righteousness.

Packed inside, the apparent contrast between the children and the rich young man is this question: How can I enter the kingdom of God? What does Mark want us to learn by sharing this account with us? 

13 And they were bringing children to Him so that He would touch them, but the disciples rebuked them14 But when Jesus saw this, He was (indignant) and said to them, “Allow the children to come to Me; do not [a]forbid them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these15 Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all.” 16 And He took them in His arms and began blessing them, laying His hands on them.

FOCUS ONE: The little children (13-16)

So, what is going on in these scriptures? It appears that the parents, most likely, are bringing their children to Jesus for a blessing. Perhaps some aunts and uncles are included in that group; we are not sure. The word “they” is not very specific in this case. We know from verse one that the crowds had gathered around Him as He entered the region and began to teach them. 

These children’s ages most likely ranged from being infants to others in their pre-teen years (paidia used in Marks account, Brephe used in Luke 18:15). They brought the children to Jesus because they wanted Him to lay His hands on them and place a blessing upon them. The disciples “rebuke” (forbid, censure) the parents for doing so. Perhaps they only desired to protect Jesus from potential trouble or more fatigue since they had just arrived in town. Still, Jesus was “indignant” (very displeased, angry)) that anyone would think that children are unimportant. Jesus tells them not to hinder the children from coming to Him. At this point, the story becomes fascinating!

There are two statements in these verses that define the main point:

  1. The Kingdom of God belongs to such as these (v. 14)
  2. Whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter at all (v. 15).

What characteristics is Jesus talking about? Is He saying only children will be in the kingdom of God? How does a person receive the kingdom of God as a child? 

The answer to those questions becomes more apparent when we think about children! After all, they are the objects of the lesson that Jesus seeks to communicate. And what characteristic is at the heart of childhood that Jesus emphasizes? Innocent, simple trust In Him! “God’s present spiritual rule in people’s lives belongs as a possession to such as these.” 

“It is not so much the innocence and humility of children (for children are not invariably either innocent or humble): it is rather the fact that children are unselfconscious, receptive, and content to be dependent on other’s care and bounty; it is in such a spirit that the kingdom must be received.”

Coming to Jesus as a person that recognizes and humbly acknowledges that you have nothing to give but simple trust in Him is the heart-work of God that makes people “kingdom ready!”

These words are instructive as well as soothing to our souls when we think about the innocence of children. BUT, I say again stronger, BUT, do not miss the next statement of Jesus. His warning must be heeded: “whoever DOES NOT receive the kingdom of God like these children shall not enter it at all.”

Our manner of approach to Christ MATTERS A LOT! 

17 As He was setting out on a journey, a man ran up to Him and knelt before Him, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do so that I may inherit eternal life?” 18 But Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone.19 You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not give false testimony, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.'” 20 And he said to Him, “Teacher, I have kept all these things from my youth.” 21 Looking at him, Jesus showed love to him and said to him, “One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” 2But he [a]was deeply dismayed by [b]these words, and he went away grieving; for he was one who owned much property.

FOCUS TWO: The encounter with the rich young man (17-22)

He was self-righteous and selfish—he thought he could earn his way into Heaven. He trusted in himself while the children with simple faith trusted in Jesus! In this, we observe the obvious and rather instructive lesson of complete surrender!

The rich young man ran up to Jesus and knelt before Him, an expression of respect for the “good teacher.” Jesus’ response seems abrupt. Calvin understands this to be “it’s as if He had said, ‘thou falsely calleth me a good master (teacher), unless thou acknowledges that I have come from God.” “In other words, Jesus is saying, before you address me with such a title, you had better think soberly about what the implications are, and especially what they are for you.”

He wants to know how to enter eternal life- Jesus knows he is referring to works, so He lays out the second table of the law before the man (Relating to others).

The man states that he kept it all from his youth (self-righteousness). Sometimes wealth and our own achievements can blind us to our needs. But to keep things in their proper order, and this mans thinking in line with the belief of his day, we need to realize that “it was a firm Jewish belief, based on Old Testament teaching, that the man who kept the law would live (Deuteronomy 30:15-16). So, that is why Jesus begins there. 

The man’s answer is a confident one. From youth “probably refers to the age of thirteen, when every Jewish boy became bar miswah (son of the commandment). At that point in a Jewish boy’s life, he became responsible to live by God’s commands.”

This is why he spoke sincerely. The problem was that he believed his obedience to the law was only an external matter, whereas the law also required inner obedience, which no person could comply with. He needed to understand his need before he could be helped

He needed to become like a little child and exercise simple innocent trust in Christ. He needed to acknowledge his pride and self-righteousness, cast it off, and turn to Jesus!

Jesus, with great love for him, pointed out the issue with his heart and told him what he needed to do (v. 21). He needed to humble himself and forsake the security that he clung to with his wealth, and the critical part here is “come follow me.”

At first, we wonder why Jesus would take such an approach to this man’s question about gaining eternal life. Many professing Christians would probably have started talking with him about God’s love and How he wants to bless everybody. They probably would have told him to “ask Jesus into his heart” and that he would be made right by doing so.

But Jesus used the law to help the young man realize his need (Galatians 3:24). The one thing that prevented this man from gaining eternal life was the security he had in his wealth. He didn’t want to surrender that and take hold of Christ by faith. By using the law Jesus sought to help the man realize and repent of his covetousness (Genesis 20:17).

“The only way to life is through the narrow gate of full surrender, and through that gate we may take, not what we want, but only what God allows.” Repentance and faith are what he needs, just like the rest of us! Sadly, he went away grieved, unwilling to part with his property.

This does not mean that everybody who comes to Jesus must give up everything they have. But it does mean that we need to be willing to!

23 And Jesus, looking around, *said to His disciples, “How hard it will be for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God!” 24 And the disciples were amazed at His words. But Jesus responded again and *said to them, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! 25 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 And they were even more astonished, and said to Him, “[a]Then who can be saved?” 27 Looking at them, Jesus *said, “With people it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God.”

FOCUS THREE: Jesus teaches the disciples (23-27)

As the disciples witness the sad exit of the young man unwilling to come to Christ and inherit eternal life, Jesus profoundly executes another teaching moment! “How hard it will be” for the wealthy to enter the kingdom of God. At this statement, the disciples exhibit amazement. Why? Honestly, it reflects their Jewish background, “which placed emphasis on the privileged position of the rich. To be wealthy was sure evidence of having the blessing of God.”

But Jesus, as always, and with incredible insight, seeks to penetrate through this false ideology by showing how such wealth and privilege could keep someone from putting their faith in the only means of salvation, namely the person of Christ! 

There is some encouragement in what Jesus is saying. Take notice that He says, “it is hard for the wealthy to enter the kingdom of God (v. 23) and again in verse twenty-four. He also states that “it is easier to go through the eye of a needle (v.25) than for a wealthy person to enter the kingdom of God. So where is the encouragement? It is found in the simple fact that Jesus does not say it is impossible!

So, what is the point Jesus is making? That salvation is a work of God, not man. Apart from His grace, it is impossible for anyone, especially a rich man, to enter God’s kingdom. Our efforts cannot save us. All our wealth cannot purchase salvation for us. What we cannot do for ourselves, God did for us in the person of Jesus Christ (v. 27; John 3:16)!

28 Peter began to say to Him, “Behold, we have left everything and have followed You.” 29 Jesus said, “Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or farms [lands], for My sake and for the gospel’s sake, 30 [a]but that he will receive a hundred times as much now in [b]the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions; and in the age to come, eternal life. 31 But many who are first will be last, and the last, first.”

FOCUS FOUR: Peter speaks up; “But we did all that” (v.28).

I can relate to Peter! I can picture myself at first shocked at Jesus’ statement and then utterly confounded at the reality that I did all that. The logical and very emotional response would be: “So what does that man do for me? I did all that you said.” But, Peter is most likely thinking in the material realm rather than the spiritual realm. A problem plagues them throughout their time with Christ pre-cross and through the resurrection.

Again, with great love and patience, Jesus responds to Peter’s statement without rebuke. Honestly, the response of Jesus is a bit hard to understand, at least in part. What does it mean that in this life, such people would receive those things forsaken for Christ a hundredfold? I don’t know anyone in church history who has had that happen except possibly Job.

The best answer may be “understood in the context of the new community into which the believer in Jesus comes. There [they] find multiplication of relationships, often closer and more spiritually meaningful than blood ties.” In other words, God takes nothing away that He does not restore in new and unique ways!

BUT, along with great blessings comes “persecutions” (v. 30). Wouldn’t we rather avoid this part? Ever hear the song with these words: “I beg your pardon, I never promised you a rose garden?” That’s what we have going on in our text. No believer in Christ was ever promised a pain-free, persecution-free, problem-free life. He told us that as they persecuted Him, they will persecute those who follow Him (John 15:18). BUT, it will be worth it when we see Jesus, our savior! 

He laid aside temporarily more than we will ever be called to. He suffered more than we can fathom, and He did all that for “the joy set before Him.” Obedient unto the Father even unto death on a cross; a death that was for the “propitiation” for sinners like us, and through it reconciling us with Him so we can enjoy Him forever! It will be worth whatever we must leave behind in this life.

The Expositors Bible. Commentary, pg. 713

Blown away!

“In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1John 4:10).

I can remember several moments in my life where I was “blown away” by something completely unexpected happening or being said in a particular situation.

An unexpected gift from a relative that went well beyond what I hoped for. A very complimentary job review and pay raise when the meeting was completely unexpected and the raise exceeding any others previously given. Surviving an accident in my truck when I rolled it over three times. My wonderful wife offering me forgiveness rather than harboring unforgiveness

What I mean when I use the expression “blown away” is that I was thoroughly impressed, overwhelmed, or excited by something. The things I mentioned earlier have done that, but all of them combined come nowhere close to what Jesus did for me!

Nothing blows me away more than God, the creator of everything, sending and giving His Son to be my substitute and there by satisfying His wrath against my sin.

God sending and giving His Son in this way for a vile, wretched sinner like me, while daily sinning against Him, is an amazing act of love that can never be matched.

Are you looking for love? Unbridled, unending, sacrificial love? There is only one place, one person in which you can find such love, His name is Jesus! Perhaps it’s time to stop “looking for love in all the wrong places” and look to Him. There is no greater expression of love than the cross of Christ.

JESUS AND DIVORCE

Mark 10:1-12

BRIEF INTRO:

10 “Setting out from there, Jesus *went to the region of Judea and beyond the Jordan; crowds *gathered to Him again, and, as He was accustomed, He once more began to teach them.”

Mark has reported on Christ’s ministry from the “early days” around Jordan and Jerusalem (1:9), Galilee (1:15-6:29), His withdrawal from Galilee, and subsequent ministry in Capernaum, Phoenicia, and Samaria. Unlike Luke and John, Mark does not record Christ’s ministry in Judea but does share with his readers the ministry He had in Perea (10:1-52), His last in Jerusalem, and then His movement to the cross and ultimately His resurrection!

In the last chapter (9), Jesus was in Capernaum and most likely entered the house of Peter, but there is no certainty on that where He asked the disciples what they were discussing along the way. That conversation led to others dealing with discipleship, temptation, and self-denial. Now Mark records that Jesus left that place and “went to the region of Judea” (v.1). The Judea region encompasses Jerusalem, Hebron, and Emmaus, to name a few towns that might help you gain your “geographical “bearings!

Crowds again flocked to Jesus when they saw Him. This has been testified to throughout Mark’s writing. And just as normal and expected as it was for the crowds to gather around Jesus, so it was for Him to teach them. One characteristic of Jesus that stands out through His ministry is selflessness!

And some (Pharisees) came up to Jesus, testing Him, and began questioning Him whether it was lawful for a man to [a]divorce his wife.

FOCUS ONE: THE BIG TEST

We quickly gather that this topic of divorce (and, secondarily, remarriage) was controversial in Christ’s day. But this wasn’t the only controversy that Jesus contended with. Mark shared in 2:1-12 the dispute over Jesus’ right to forgive sins. In 2:13-17, there were issues with His fellowship with tax collectors and “sinners,” His right to do good on the Sabbath (Mark 3:1-6), as well as the disciples eating with unwashed hands (7:1-5, 14-23). 

In this case, the Pharisees approach Jesus to “test” Him. The Pharisees accepted both the written and oral law but were more liberal in interpreting the law, unlike the Sadducees. The Sadducees practiced a literal interpretation of the law and stressed strict observance of it. So, we can understand that these differences play a “major” part in the testing of Jesus on this issue!

The Pharisees question Jesus: (motivation-to test Him)

  • Their question-Was it lawful for a man to divorce his wife? Matthew adds, “for any reason.” (Cr. Deuteronomy 24:1).
  • Jesus countered: “what did Moses command you?
  • They said Moses permitted them to “write a certificate of divorce” and send her away.
  • “Because of the hardness of the offending party (in the cruelty of their unfaithfulness to their spouse). Jesus replied that Moses “permitted” it because of their hardness of heart. It was also permitted because of the hardness of the offended party (being unable to forgive and restore a damaged relationship).
  • They tried to get Jesus to speak against Mose or popular opinion.
  • Note: “Incompatibility, not loving each other anymore, brutality, and misery are NOT grounds for divorce, though they may be proper grounds for a separation and consequent celibacy within marriage.” Forgiveness and reconciliation are prized jewels of the gospel and are to be sought after in any relationship, especially the marital relationship!

Some other questions that need to be addressed are: What is a “certificate of divorce? Was divorce commanded OR permitted? Is the biblical view of marriage and divorce the same in our culture today? The process?

And He answered and said to them, “What did Moses command you?” They said, “Moses permitted a man to write a [a]certificate of divorce and [b]send his wife away.” But Jesus said to them, “[c]Because of your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment. But from the beginning of creation, God created them male and female. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother[d], and the two shall become one flesh; so they are no longer two, but one flesh.Therefore, what God has joined together, no person is to separate.”

FOCUS TWO: JESUS’ EXPLANATION OF MARRIAGE

There is so much in Jesus’ response that time alludes me of the opportunity of being exhaustive in my comments, so let me highlight the main things:

The main point is that divorce was not God’s plan from the beginning!

  • From the beginning of creation, God made males and females (Genesis 1:27). He created marriage so that male and female (for this cause) would leave their parents and become “one flesh.”
  • God joins males and females in covenant; through “sexual relations,” they become one flesh.
  • No longer viewed as two separate entities within the bonds of marriage (One flesh). “But two souls in one body, with a complete union of interests, and indissoluble partnership of life, fortune, comfort and support, desires and inclinations, joys and sorrows.”
  • No man (District justice, judge, etc.) has the biblical authority to “separate” or make divorce provisions. (Why? Because it’s not merely a social contract, it is a spiritually binding covenant before God).

The debate is centered around Deuteronomy 24:1, a Mosaic law that permitted divorce. The question the rabbis sought to answer was: what constituted uncleanness?

Two schools of thought:

Rabbi Hillel- “Understood uncleanness to mean any sort of discretion.”

Rabbi Shammai- “understood that uncleanness (Deuteronomy) meant sexual immorality and said that was the only valid reason for divorce.”

“William Barclay described the teaching of Rabbi Hillel on divorce and the term uncleanness in Deuteronomy 24:1. “They said that it could mean if the wife spoiled a dish of food, if she spun in the streets, if she talked to a strange man, if she spoke disrespectfully of her husband’s relations in his hearing, if she was a brawling woman (who was defined as a woman whose voice could be heard in the next house). Rabbi Akiba even went the length of saying that it meant if a man found a woman who was fairer in his eyes than his wife was.”

Some rabbis even went so far as to say that it was a man’s religious duty to divorce a lousy wife. Here we see where Jesus differed and the Pharisees wanted to try and use that against Him.

This is why the “certificate of divorce” was permitted. It provided a degree of protection for the innocent spouse and removed the stigma of her unfaithfulness in the marriage. It provided her with the opportunity to remarry.

It is important to note that Matthew adds “for any cause at all” (v. 3), which reveals the thinking mentioned above. I love how Jesus asks: “Have you not read” (Matthew 19:4). These Pharisees should be well educated in what scriptures teach. They would have known Malachi 2:14 and Genesis 1:27)!

10 And in the house the disciples again began questioning Him about this. 11 And He *said to them, “Whoever [a]divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her; 12 and if she herself [b]divorces her husband and marries another man, she is committing adultery.”

FOCUS THREE: WHY IT MATTERS

  • God’s design for marriage

Was and always will be that a man and woman unite together in the covenant of matrimony until death. The word translated as “be joined” literally means “to glue,” reflecting the strength of the marriage bond.

That the marriage union would be a picture of Christ and His love for the church (Ephesians 5:22-33).

That marriage between a man and a woman would constitute the firmest foundation for building a family.

That God-designed sexual expression would help married couples build and express intimacy with one another. Sexual relations outside the marriage covenant is forbidden.

When God designed or created marriage, He pronounced it “very good” (Genesis 1:31). It is still good in His eyes. Mankind has perverted this sacred union in many ways: sexual promiscuity, homosexuality, trans-sexual, or any other irregular sexual behavior has destroyed families and weakened our society. 

“No fault” divorces have made it much easier to end a marriage “for any reason.” But God does not forget the covenant that was made before Him.

So, with these things in mind, we must remember that God, not the state, established biblical marriage (Genesis 2:21-25). It is between a “male” and a “female” only. It is a sacred institution in His eyes and, therefore, NOT something to be thrown away when the going gets tough. Instead, it is something worth fighting for! 

Marriage is a gospel issue. That is why clarity about its definition matters, and so does its purpose and longevity. “If we depart from, or fail to stand up for, the biblical view of marriage, we are taking a step away from the gospel itself. The whole bible is a story of the marital love of God, our whole lives are that story if we have eyes to see.”

Perhaps that statement is new to you. Think about it. Two sinners living together, always seeking to serve the self, now have to learn how to serve their spouse! We tend to make things more about ourselves; it makes sense, that is our nature. But just like anything else in this universe-IT’S REALLY ALL ABOUT HIM. 

“Our earthly marriage as Christian’s paints a vibrant portrait to the watching world of this divine design. God’s blueprint is for Christ and the church to become one (Galatians 3:28; 1 Corinthians 12:13).”

“What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate” (Mark 10:9).

Enduringword.com bible commentary

Holman Book of Biblical charts, maps, and reconstructions

Life way.com article

NEW BOOK REVIEW: A GOSPEL PRIMER FOR CHRISTIANS BY: Milton Vincent

Learning to see the glories of God’s love

I had recently been looking through my library and found this long forgotten gem of a writing by Milton Vincent. I quickly skimmed through this one and decided that it would be helpful for my son to go through as a part of his schooling.

I was correct thinking that way but incorrect in assuming that this little primer had nothing of value for myself.

I had some free time the other day and saw this book laying on the shelf so I picked it up and read through it. I was happy that I did.

All of 97 pages, this gospel primer was a great source of encouragement, reflection, and motivation for me, an older man, in my walk of faith.

Endorsed by godly men such as John MacArthur, C.J. Mahaney, and Jerry Bridges, who’s own estimates of the primer saw it as a ” small but meaty overview of the gospel,” and a ” practical tool with a powerful effect.” Which can be ” literally life changing.”

As I read through the forward at the beginning of the book I was happy to read that the author wanted his readers to take their time with it. ” This book was written slowly. It savors of a slow cooking.. . Let it’s truths drip down deep.” In other words this book and the truths contained within will be found to be a spiritually useful book!

With that exhortation in mind, I continued. The introduction lays out the main purpose of Milton’s effort: “This book is a handy guide to help Christians experience the gospel more fully by preaching it to themselves each day.”

What a much needed exhortation. We often think the gospel saves, but struggle with knowing what to do with it once we are saved! I appreciate Milton expressing that fact because it truly is meant to be more than a once embraced truth to be converted, it actually is “offered to us every day as a gift that keeps on giving to us everything we need for life and godliness.”

Briefly in the introduction and then with greater detail in part IV, the writer shares how he came to the conclusion that the gospel is a much needed focus in the daily walk of a believer.

The first part of this book contains reasons to rehearse the gospel daily. In fact, he gives thirty- one of them designed to remind the reader of some valuable blessings which the gospel can render in the life of the believer who rehearses the gospel in faith each day.

The second and third parts contain: A Gospel Narrative in both a prose and poetic format. Both formats are written in a way that facilitates memorization and smooth recital of the gospel.

I really enjoyed how Milton wrote everything in sections I -III in the first person (I, my, me), because it helped me relate these truths to myself on a deeper personal level. I think it was very wise of him to do so because the truths he is relating come off the pages then as not only relating to his own experience, but also to the daily heart experience of others who meditate on what God in Christ has done for them as well.

I am thankful that the writer mentions often that this book is only a tool to “get you launched in preaching the gospel to yourself and rehearsing it’s benefits.” It is not meant to be a substitute for the gospel.

In part one he gives the thirty -one reasons to rehearse the gospel daily. Here are just a few headings:

1. The New Testament model
2. My daily need
3. The power of God
4. My daily protection
5. Transformed by glory
6. A cure for distrust
8. Freedom from sins power
11 Loving my brother and sister
12. My inheritance in the Saints
15. Cultivating humility
18. Perspective in trials
26. Hope of heaven
27. Mortifying the flesh with fullness

With each one of these headings the writer opens up how the gospel is affective in our lives in these ways. I also must note that every page has all the scriptures cited in which the truths expressed are located!

Part two offers A Gospel Narrative in prose. I found the layout of this very helpful for my own comprehension and application. He begins with our sin against God than moves forward discussing God’s work on our behalf and the resulting salvation that comes from it.

I personally think this section would be helpful in our prayer time. We can use one or two of these truths to pray different things than we normally might. We can pray biblical thoughts by using the scripture citations on the bottom of the page.

Part three offers A Gospel Narrative in a poetic form. I truly appreciated this section. It read smoothly and was greatly appreciated and encouraging to my soul. This section, like the others, has all the scriptures used on the bottom of the page. Not only the reference, but the verse written out as well!

Part IV ends the book with the authors story behind this book. I appreciated his honesty and transparency in sharing his “backstory.”

In short, most of his life was lived by trying to maintain his justification status through his own works. Then one day, alone with his Bible turned to Romans five, the Lord “stirred my soul,” with the truth of my justified status before God, which led Him into a fuller, more meaningful walk of faith!

I highly recommend this book to anyone wanting, perhaps needing, a richer, fuller, more practical understanding of the gospel, that not only saves but satisfies our deepest longings each and everyday afterwards.