For an introduction to this series, click here.
Jan. 28, 2007
Mark writes his Gospel more like a journalist than any of the other three Gospels. John editorializes constantly, stating facts that have nothing to do with the actual story he is telling. Matthew and Luke stop to record long discourses by Jesus, things that a good journalist would pass over or summarize. Mark skips over those discourses and gives us a cursory retelling of the events. That makes Mark harder to comment on, because he doesn't record many of Jesus' important teachings nor does he explain things in great detail.
Honestly, most of the teachings Mark does record are mostly rehashes from Matthew. The first two gospels definitely have a lot in common. Personally, I can identify more with Mark than the other Gospels as I am reading it, but it is hard to come up with fresh material out of him. Of course that does not mean that one or the other is more or less inspired, it just means that the Lord allowed the writers to approach the story in significantly different ways.
This chapter starts with Jesus' teaching about divorce, which we discussed in Matthew. I think it is important to dissect Jesus' summary statement: "Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her, and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery." (10:11-12) We must understand this in light of whom Jesus was addressing - the Pharisees - and in the context of Paul's instruction in I Corinthians. The Pharisees (or at least one of the two major pharisaical schools) said it was OK to divorce at any time for anything. This was unfortunately common in Israel: people, especially men, would divorce and remarry many times in their life. Jesus' main point was to rebuke this false teaching. Paul tells us, among other things, that it is acceptable for a Christian married to an unbeliever to divorce and marry someone in the church, even though the first option is to remain with the lost spouse in the hope of winning them to the Lord. Thus Jesus' teaching here must mean that divorce is not to be entered lightly. No doubt some of those who took advantage of the Pharisees’ teaching already had someone in mind to remarry. Jesus says that marriage was designed for two people together for life, and that any time we cheapen marriage by swapping out one spouse for another we are mocking God's ordinance.
Next we have the story of the rich young ruler. His main problem was not that he was rich, nor was it that he was a wicked person. His main problem was that he was unwilling to admit that he was a sinner. When Jesus confronted him with the commandments, the man said he had kept all of them his whole life. Anyone who is not willing to admit they have lied or disobeyed their parents is too stubborn to be saved, no matter if they are rich or poor.
Next we have James and John's request to be seated on Jesus' right and left hands in the kingdom. Mark does not mention that their mother actually did the asking, a detail Matthew includes. I guess Mark was trying to point out that it was them who came up with the idea first, and maybe they were too embarrassed to ask the question themselves, so they got their mother to ask for them. Anyway, they asked to sit on Jesus' right and left hands in the kingdom. This while Jesus was explaining to them how He was going to be beaten and killed by the Jewish leaders. They still did not get it, but Jesus was in the process of opening their eyes.
The last section is the story of Bartimaeus. Jesus is leaving Jericho on His way to Jerusalem when they passed a blind man, who began shouting for Jesus. Mark writes that "Many rebuked him, telling him to be silent." (10:48, ESV) I wonder who the many were. It probably included the disciples themselves. These were the same disciples who earlier in this chapter, in a section I skipped, tried to send the children away from Jesus. They thought themselves too important to be bothered with kids or blind people (I realize I'm being presumptive here). They were the seconds in command to the Messiah, and very soon they were going to be ruling Israel. But of course Jesus had time to stop and heal him, giving the disciples another lesson in humility.