Devotional #27 (4/1/13). Divorce, child-like faith, good works and love of riches.
Intro: Last week Jesus taught some interesting lessons like cutting off your own hand if it makes you sin or poking out your eye if it causes you to stumble. These aren’t to be taken literally but the idea is that we should remove the things that cause us to sin. If you look up porn on the internet get rid of your computer, if bad drivers give you road rage then take the bus. These might seem like drastic steps but if it saves you from hell then it is worth it. This week Jesus will teach on divorce and the danger of love of riches.
This Week’s Reading: Mark 10:1-31.
v. 1.Jesus has now walked to Judea and people come and see Him to hear Him teach.
vv. 2-4. As usual Jesus is interrupted by the religious leaders who were “testing Him.” They try to trip Jesus up with a question about divorce. This question divided the Sanhedrin (the religious counsel made up of Pharisees and Sadducees, among others). There were two schools of thought: Hillel taught it was OK to divorce your wife if she burned the toast but Shammai taught that divorce was only OK if there was marital unfaithfulness (Source 1). So here the Pharisees want to argue their point but Jesus doesn’t get pulled into their fight, instead He asks what Moses “commanded [them]”. Notice they respond with what Moses “permitted” them to do. Jesus uses Moses because He knew they held Moses and the Law above God’s commands.
vv. 5-9. Jesus compares them with their forefathers who had hard hearts when dealing with Moses. He goes back to Creation instead of dealing with what a man (Moses) told them to do. Jesus is saying, ‘If God told you that when you get married it is never to be broken up then why do want to have a loophole?’ Jesus quotes from Exodus 1:27, 2:24 and 5:2. His foundation is on the Scripture and not what a man, even a smart man like Shammai, has said.
vv. 10-12. Here the disciples ask Him again about the topic of divorce. It must have been a lot like today where people were getting divorced as fast as they were getting married. Jesus explains that if a couple gets a divorce when neither of them cheated on the other then in the eyes of God they are not really divorced. In fact God holds His covenant with the couple in such high esteem that He says if one of them goes and has sex with another person then they are committing adultery (interestingly invalidating the marriage for the other person). What a sad mess people can make of something created to complete them!
vv. 13-16.Jesus has a very special place in His heart for children (as we saw in Mark 9:42). Here the parents of some little kids want them to see Jesus but He is busy with adults. The disciples tell the kids to ‘get lost’ (like most of us would). But Jesus is very unhappy and tells the disciples to let the kids come to Him and then compares the kingdom of heaven to the situation. We must rely on Jesus with faith but David Guzik notes an important point, “they are also examples of how we must enter the kingdom with a childlikefaith, not with a childish faith” (Source 2). So we rely on God like we trust our daddy not as fools or with naivety. Then Jesus picks up the children and “blesses” them. How much He loves them!
vv. 17-20. Here a rich man runs up to Jesus knowing that He has the answer to eternal life and asks “Good Teacher, what shall I do…” Notice the use of “good” and “do” here. In this culture “good” meant “perfect”, a person would only use this of God and was never used for teachers (Source 3). Read Romans 5:7 for a better understanding. So Jesus asks Him “why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is God.” Jesus isn’t saying He is not God, He is actually asking the man to consider that He is talking to God. Then Jesus asks the second question because the man said “do.” The man wondered what kind of works he could do to earn heaven but entering heaven is about faith in Jesus. So Jesus quotes commandments from Exodus 20:12-16. He is saying ‘if you want to do something then keep the commandments,’ but He knows what the man is going to respond with which will get to the final point. The man says, ‘I’ve done all of the commandments.’
vv. 21-22. NoticeJesus “loved him”, He wasn’t trying to trick or be mean to the guy. So Jesus (speaking specifically to this man) tells him to sell all he has and follow Jesus. But the man loves riches too much and turns away saddened. Jesus asks each of us to take whatever is at the top spot of our life (maybe a car or a boyfriend or a job) get rid of it and suffer by “tak[ing] up the crossand follow [Him].” What a sad story of a man who looked God in the face and told Him ‘no’ I don’t want heaven I’d rather settle for a couple more years with money and then spend eternity in hell.’
vv. 23-27. Jesus explains that people who love riches can’t enter heaven and this blows the disciples minds! They had always seen and been taught that the religious leaders had more money so they were blessed; they got to sit in the best seats and were respected. But Jesus describes how it would be easier for a literal camel to be shoved through the little hole in a needle then a rich person to buy their way into heaven. I should note that riches aren’t bad but the love of them over God is a sin (see 1 Timothy 6:10). The disciples are shocked, feeling then that no one can get into heaven. But Jesus says that a person must rely on God instead of themselves or others.
vv. 28-31. Here we see the economy of God. It is like nothing we know on earth. Peter, fishing for a compliment, notes that they have left all their possessions to follow Him. Jesus encourages His disciples by saying that for those who have sacrificed for Him they will be blessed 100 times in heaven what their losses on earth were. He does note that there will be persecutions since “great trials often accompany great blessings” (Source 4). Lastly we see that the people who are always first will be last in heaven and vis versa. Do you know someone who is always at the head of the line for food or wants to drive someone’s new car first? A Christian will be rewarded even if the cost and pay off don’t match up in terms of time. This is very similar to what we read in Mark 8:34-35 about the person who tries to hold on to their life actually losing it but the person who is willing to give up their life (for the gospel and Jesus sake) will actually keep it. That is the economy of God, it is full of paradoxes but everyone is given the chance to do the right thing. Jesus illustrates this point in next week’s portion of reading…feel free to read ahead!
Conclusion: Jesus taught on divorce and how selfish people can get caught up in a debate without considering the importance of the covenant of marriage. We saw how much Jesus loves children and how we’re supposed to have a “child-like” faith. Lastly we learned that it is impossible to get into heaven just by what you’ve done or own. Jesus just wants us to rely on Him and allow Him to change our lives (always for the better!)
Source 1: The Interactive Bible, http://www.bible.ca/d-jewish-sects-pharisees-sadducees-essenes-zealots.htm
Source 2: David Guzik, Blue Letter Bible: http://www.blueletterbible.org/commentaries/comm_view.cfm?AuthorID=2&contentID=7903&commInfo=31&topic=Mark&ar=Mar_10_1
Source 3: David Guzik quoting Plummer, Blue Letter Bible: http://www.blueletterbible.org/commentaries/comm_view.cfm?AuthorID=2&contentID=7903&commInfo=31&topic=Mark&ar=Mar_10_1
Source 4: John MacArthur, MacArthur Study Bible, p. 1483