Mark 10:1 ¶ And he arose from thence, and cometh into the coasts of Judaea by the farther side of Jordan: and the people resort unto him again; and, as he was wont, he taught them again.
Jesus and the disciples left Capenaum and headed into Judea on their way to Jerusalem. At some point He stopped and, as usual, a crowd gathered around Him. He took advantage of the opportunity to teach them once again.
Mark 10:2 And the Pharisees came to him, and asked him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife? tempting him.
Mark 10:3 And he answered and said unto them, What did Moses command you?
Mark 10:4 And they said, Moses suffered to write a bill of divorcement, and to put her away.
Mark 10:5 And Jesus answered and said unto them, For the hardness of your heart he wrote you this precept.
Mark 10:6 But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female.
Mark 10:7 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife;
Mark 10:8 And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh.
Mark 10:9 What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.
Also as usual, Pharisees were in the crowd and posed a question, hoping to trap Him concerning a point of the law. They asked Him if it was lawful for a man to put away his wife.
Jesus answered with a question (as He often did), “What did Moses command?” They quickly answered that Moses allowed a man to write a bill of divorcement and put away his wife.
Jesus responded by telling them that Moses only allowed this because of the hardness of their hearts. From the very beginning of creation God made both man and woman; it was His purpose for a man to leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife. In God’s eyes, they became one flesh when they married and no man had the right to tear apart what God had joined together.
I think it is significant to note that we were created so that the very anatomy of our bodies declare the truth of marriage being for one man and one woman—not man and man or woman and woman.
Matthew tells us a bit more. The only acceptable reason for divorce is adultery. Any man that divorces his wife and marries someone else for any other reason commits adultery; the same is true of the man that marries the divorced woman.
Matthew 19:9 “And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.”
Even with the noted exception, I believe that very few divorces today, relative to the whole, (even among Christians) are in accordance with biblical parameters.
David Guzik added insight: “In theory, the Jews of that day had a high ideal of marriage. Yet they had a low view of women. ‘The Jews had very low views of women…A wife was bought, regarded as property, used as a household drudge, and dismissed at pleasure.’ (Bruce) Today, men also have a low view of women; tragically, women also have a low view of women, and often reject the idea that women should be different than men in any way.”
Mark 10:10 And in the house his disciples asked him again of the same matter.
Mark 10:11 And he saith unto them, Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her.
Mark 10:12 And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery.
When they returned to the house in which they were staying, the disciples asked Jesus to clarify what He had said. He repeated what He had said to the Pharisees, adding that the same principles applied to a situation in which the woman divorces her husband.
Once again, Matthew tells us a bit more.
Matthew 19:10–12 “His disciples say unto him, If the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry. But he said unto them, All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given. For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother’s womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.”
Jesus did not deny that what the disciples stated was true; He stated that basically very few men could tolerate celibacy. Only those “to whom it is given” seems to be a reference to a special calling by God. He then explains further. Some men are born eunuchs, some are made eunuchs by the actions of other men, and some have purposed to be eunuchs in the service of the Lord.
Eunuch = one who is castrated, impotent or unmarried (from the Greek)
I liked David Stern’s comment in his Jewish New Testament Commentary: “Depending on the calling and preferences of the individual, Yeshua allows that either the married or the single life can be one of service to God and humanity; and he takes care to minimize needless guilt on the part of those making the choice.”
Mark 10:13 ¶ And they brought young children to him, that he should touch them: and his disciples rebuked those that brought them.
Mark 10:14 But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.
Mark 10:15 Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.
Mark 10:16 And he took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them.
In this next snapshot, Mark tells of people (probably parents, actually probably moms) bringing children to Jesus so He could touch them. (Matthew affirms that it was for a blessing as indicated in v16.) The disciples rebuked them. It really displeased Jesus when He saw what they were doing. He basically said, “Let the little children come to me; don’t forbid them. The kingdom of God is made up of those just like these little children—those with simple faith that recognize their helplessness and need. He declared that anyone that refuses to receive the kingdom of God as a helpless little child would not be allowed to enter.
Jesus then took the children up in His arms and laid His hands upon them and blessed them.
The disciples had evidently already forgotten that Jesus had told them that He valued little children and that to receive them was equivalent to receiving Him. (cf chapter 9)
Mark 10:17 ¶ And when he was gone forth into the way, there came one running, and kneeled to him, and asked him, Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?
Mark 10:18 And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God.
Mark 10:19 Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Defraud not, Honour thy father and mother.
Eventually, Jesus and His disciples departed to continue their journey to Jerusalem. Along the way, a man came running and knelt before Him. He addressed Jesus as “Good Master,” or “Good Teacher.” He then asked the LORD what he needed to do to inherit eternal life. Guzik made a good point: “He didn’t want Jesus to be his savior, he wanted Jesus to show him the way to be his own savior.”
Significant to note is that this young man (according to Matthew) knew that there was more to life after death.
Jesus answered him by asking him a question to get him to think about what he was inferring. He asked the man why he called Him good, then reminded him that no one is good except God (“the supreme Divinity” from the Greek). Jesus next listed six commandments…
…these commandments all have to do with one’s actions toward his fellowman. He did not even include the commandments dealing with man’s relationship with God.
Mark 10:20 And he answered and said unto him, Master, all these have I observed from my youth.
Mark 10:21 Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.
Mark 10:22 And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions.
The young man answered without hesitation that he had kept all of these commandments since his youth. Jesus looked at the man and loved him; then He told him that he lacked one thing. He must go and sell everything he owned and give the money to the poor; that would ensure that he had treasure in heaven. Then he was to come and take up his personal cross and follow Him. The young man was very sad when he heard that, and he went away very sad because he was a man of wealth. Did he realize that his response was evidence of sin in his life?
Jesus was telling the man that by calling Him good, he was declaring Him to be God. If he really believed that, he should be willing to submit to Him. I believe the Holy Spirit revealed to Jesus that this man’s weakness was what most would consider to be a strength—his wealth. He was not ready to submit to Jesus if it meant giving away his wealth. It also revealed how little he understood about the value of eternal life and treasures in heaven vs. the here and now. I think there are many today that struggle with that same issue.
One more thing—Because He loved the young man, Jesus told him the truth; He was concerned about the man’s eternal future. That should be true of every believer today. We should be willing to share the truth with those we love without regard as to how that might impact our relationship with them in this life. Also, even though Jesus loved the young man, He didn’t make an exception in his case; there are no exceptions when it comes to salvation. One can only be saved by grace through faith in Jesus as LORD and Savior.
Guzik made another good comment: “The wealthy man is often a successful doer. He has done well, so he is rich. It is very easy for him to think that salvation, and relationship with the Lord is also a matter of successful doing, when really it is about humble receiving.”
Mark 10:23 And Jesus looked round about, and saith unto his disciples, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!
Mark 10:24 And the disciples were astonished at his words. But Jesus answereth again, and saith unto them, Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God!
Mark 10:25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.
Jesus then looked around at His disciples and emphatically declared that it is very hard for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God. That statement surprised the disciples. The prevalent view of the day was that wealth was a sign of God’s blessing. In light of that belief, it would make one wonder how anyone could be saved if those whose lives evidenced God’s blessing cannot be saved. The disciples knew that being saved was the equivalent of eternal life in the kingdom of God.
Jesus continued, addressing them as sons, “It is hard for those that trust in riches to enter the kingdom of God. In fact, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.” In other words, Jesus is declaring it almost impossible.
The culture prevalent throughout the world today is to attain as much wealth as possible. Those who reach that goal and accrue great wealth usually find themselves more and more possessed by their wealth. It becomes harder and harder for one in such a position to truly lay down his life before God and say, “I want you to be my LORD and Savior. I want to do your will whatever the cost.”
Mark 10:26 And they were astonished out of measure, saying among themselves, Who then can be saved?
Mark 10:27 And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible.
The disciples were truly amazed and discussed among themselves who could be saved. Jesus looked at them again and gave some hope, declaring that it might be impossible for men, but not impossible for God; with God ALL things are possible.
In other words, through the ministry of the Holy Spirit, even a rich person can be brought to repentance and saving faith to eternal life.
Mark 10:28 Then Peter began to say unto him, Lo, we have left all, and have followed thee.
Mark 10:29 And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel’s,
Mark 10:30 But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life.
Mark 10:31 But many that are first shall be last; and the last first.
Peter spoke up and reminded Jesus that they had left all and followed Him; in other words, we are not like that rich man. I imagine that the disciples were men of varying degrees of wealth before choosing to become followers of Jesus, and we know that some had their own businesses.
Jesus answered by saying that not one person who has left all—family and possessions—to follow Him for the sake of the gospel will regret it. They will receive far more than they have given up.
Once again, we learn a bit more from Matthew.
Matthew 19:27–28 “Then answered Peter and said unto him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore? And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”
Matthew notes that Jesus answered Peter directly concerning the disciples. He declared that when He is established on His throne of His glory in the kingdom, they would occupy twelve thrones and serve as judges of the twelve tribes of Israel.
Jesus adds one final thought—Many that are considered the most respected will really be last in His kingdom; those who are not so respected will be among the most respected in the kingdom.
Mark 10:32 ¶ And they were in the way going up to Jerusalem; and Jesus went before them: and they were amazed; and as they followed, they were afraid. And he took again the twelve, and began to tell them what things should happen unto him,
Mark 10:33 Saying, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be delivered unto the chief priests, and unto the scribes; and they shall condemn him to death, and shall deliver him to the Gentiles:
Mark 10:34 And they shall mock him, and shall scourge him, and shall spit upon him, and shall kill him: and the third day he shall rise again.
Jesus led the way as the continued on their way “up” to Jerusalem. David Stern provided some insight: “Jerusalem is located on top of the Judean hills, some 2,500 feet above sea level and higher than most inhabited places in Israel. This particular ascent was being made from Jericho, 900 feet below sea level. But “going up to Jerusalem” has a spiritual dimension which does not depend on altitude — the earth’s spiritual geography is such that from the summit of Mount Everest one still “goes up” to Jerusalem. Today when Jews come to live in Israel they do not “immigrate” but “make aliyah” (the word means “going up”), even if they plan to live on the shore of the Dead Sea, the lowest place on earth.”
The disciples were still amazed at what Jesus had told them, and they were also afraid. Once more Jesus told them what was going to happen to Him. He explained that He would be delivered into the custody of the chief priests and scribes in Jerusalem; they would condemn Him to death and deliver Him into the hands of the Gentile authorities. He would be mocked, scourged and spit upon before finally being killed. On the third day He would rise again to new life.
Scripture had foretold that He would suffer such treatment.
Psalms 22:7–8 “All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying, He trusted on the LORD that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him.”
Isaiah 50:6 “I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting.”
Isaiah 53:4–5 “Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.”
Isaiah 53:9 “And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.”
I think it was in response to their fear that Jesus again specifically told the disciples what was going to happen. I think His intent was to strengthen their faith with the truth that He could tell them in advance what to expect and that He would overcome death.
Mark 10:35 And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, come unto him, saying, Master, we would that thou shouldest do for us whatsoever we shall desire.
Mark 10:36 And he said unto them, What would ye that I should do for you?
Mark 10:37 They said unto him, Grant unto us that we may sit, one on thy right hand, and the other on thy left hand, in thy glory.
Mark 10:38 But Jesus said unto them, Ye know not what ye ask: can ye drink of the cup that I drink of? and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?
Mark 10:39 And they said unto him, We can. And Jesus said unto them, Ye shall indeed drink of the cup that I drink of; and with the baptism that I am baptized withal shall ye be baptized:
Mark 10:40 But to sit on my right hand and on my left hand is not mine to give; but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared.
At one point, James and John came to Jesus (privately I assume) and asked that He grant them their wish. When Jesus asked what they wanted, they told Him that they wanted to sit one at His right hand and the other at His left (the two highest places of honor) when He was established on His throne in glory. Matthew tells us that it was actually the mother that came to Jesus on behalf of her sons. (Side note: Jon Courson makes the case that James and John were cousins of Jesus. See note on journal for Matthew 20.)
I am reminded that they are headed to Jerusalem right before Passover, so it is likely that family was traveling with them. That would account for those that loved Him, including His mother Mary, being in Jerusalem to witness His death.
Jesus told James and John that they did not realize what they were asking. He asked them if they thought they could drink the cup He would drink and be baptized with the baptism He was about to experience. They foolishly answered that they knew they could. The “cup” and “baptism” were both references to the judgment He would endure in the process of redeeming man from sin—judgment that I deserved.
Jesus affirmed that they would certainly experience disgrace and persecution as His followers (my paraphrase). (Note: James was the first apostle to be martyred, and John ended up exiled to the island of Patmos because of his faith. If tradition is true, they also tried to boil John in oil. John was also the last of the apostles to die.)
Jesus told them, however, that what they asked was not His to give; it would be given to those for whom it was prepared.
This made me think about the words of John in which Jesus told the disciples that He was going to the Father to prepare a place for them. I think there is a special place prepared for every child of God in eternity.
John 14:1–3 “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me….I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.”
Mark 10:41 And when the ten heard it, they began to be much displeased with James and John.
Mark 10:42 But Jesus called them to him, and saith unto them, Ye know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon them.
Mark 10:43 But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister:
Mark 10:44 And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all.
Mark 10:45 For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.
It seems that the other ten disciples found out about Jesus’ conversation with the two brothers, and they weren’t very happy about it. Jesus gathered them around and took advantage of the teaching moment. My paraphrase: “You know that those who are acknowledged as rulers over the Gentiles exercise their authority and those over them exert even more authority; in other words, rulers make full use of their power. It shouldn’t be the same among them. He who wants to be great among you should position himself as servant; the one who achieves the highest position (in My kingdom is implied) will be he who has proven to be the greatest servant to the others. Even I (Jesus) came to serve and give My life a ransom for many; I didn’t come to be served.
The word “ransom” references redemption and atonement. Jesus came to redeem man from sin and to reconcile man’s relationship to God.
It also stands out that Jesus said “many” would be redeemed—implying, but not all. Though His sacrifice was sufficient for all, most (relative to the whole) would reject the gift of salvation He provided than accept it as He declared in Matthew 7.
Matthew 7:13–14 “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.”
Mark 10:46 ¶ And they came to Jericho: and as he went out of Jericho with his disciples and a great number of people, blind Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, sat by the highway side begging.
Mark 10:47 And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out, and say, Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy on me.
Mark 10:48 And many charged him that he should hold his peace: but he cried the more a great deal, Thou Son of David, have mercy on me.
Mark 10:49 And Jesus stood still, and commanded him to be called. And they call the blind man, saying unto him, Be of good comfort, rise; he calleth thee.
Mark 10:50 And he, casting away his garment, rose, and came to Jesus.
Mark 10:51 And Jesus answered and said unto him, What wilt thou that I should do unto thee? The blind man said unto him, Lord, that I might receive my sight.
Mark 10:52 And Jesus said unto him, Go thy way; thy faith hath made thee whole. And immediately he received his sight, and followed Jesus in the way.
Eventually they came to Jericho. According to the NIV Study Bible, Jericho was “a very ancient city located five miles west of the Jordan and about 15 miles northeast of Jerusalem.”
After reaching Jericho, Jesus headed out of the city with His disciples and a lot of other people. Meanwhile, blind Bartimaeus, son of Timaeus, sat by the highway begging when he heard that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by. He began to cry out loudly saying, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me.” (Note: Son of David was recognized as a reference to the Messiah.) Many people tried to get him to be quiet, but he cried out even more. Jesus heard him and stopped. He commanded that they call Bartimaeus to Him, so they told the man to have courage because Jesus called for Him. He threw off his robe, got up and went to Jesus. Chuck Smith had an interesting comment: “Some say that this garment was the typical garment of the beggar. It was sort of the badge of the beggar. But he threw it away because he knew that he wouldn’t have to be begging any more. In faith, he knew once he got to Jesus, it was going to all be over; he’d be able to see. His life would be changed. And so, casting away his garment, [he] rose, and came to Jesus.”
Jesus asked Bartimaeus what he wanted Him to do for him. He immediately answered that He wanted to be able to see. Jesus told him to go on his way and that his faith had made him whole. The man immediately received his sight and (no surprise to me) began following Jesus.
It should be noted that Matthew’s account doesn’t identify Bartimaeus and records that there were actually two blind men that called out for Jesus and were healed.