with Alan Bailey
Welcome to this Bible Study. Read what I have written slowly. If you have a Bible look up the reference verses given, and allow the Holy Spirit to minister to your soul through them.
The Lord Jesus carried out a public ministry for around three years. At this point in Mark we are looking at the last part of that period. We will see that chapters eleven to sixteen cover a period of not much more than a week. So here we enjoy the teaching of Jesus on a number of key subjects.
Verse 1 Jesus left that place and went into the region of Judea and across the Jordan. Again crowds of people came to Him, and as was His custom, He taught them.
The move Jesus made was from Capernaum, going south to Judea and then crossing the river to the area known as Perea. His movements must have been well-known as there were crowds waiting to meet with Him. He always used these opportunities to teach.
Verse 2 Some Pharisees came and tested Him by asking, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?”
The Pharisees were a group who followed the Jewish religion with strictness, but often looked for personal advantages. In the matter of marriage, their practice was weighted toward the advantage of the husband. They quite freely broke from one wife to gain a new one, even numbers of times. In asking this question, they hoped to hear Jesus affirm their lifestyle. But He was not about to do it.
Verses 3-5 “What did Moses command you?” He replied. They said, “Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce and send her away.” “It was because your hearts were hard that Moses wrote you this law,” Jesus replied.
As these people were always quoting the law, Jesus referred them to it to make a point. Correctly, they said that Moses allowed divorce, providing a woman with a document to show that her history was not questionable, but was lawful. However, Jesus makes it clear that it was only permitted because men had the power to make life hard, even intolerable for a wife.
Verses 6-9 “But at the beginning of creation, God ‘made them male and female. For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.”
Instead of going along with their desire for easy divorce, Jesus upholds God’s original design for marriage. Going back to the book of Genesis, He shows that God’s intention is for a man and a woman to be united in a bond for life. All else is less than what God wants. It is plain to us today that God’s revealed will is not always followed. Hard hearts and human weaknesses of various kinds cause violations to the marriage institution.
Verses 10-12 When they were in the house again, the disciples asked Jesus about this. He answered, “Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her. And if she divorces her husband and marries another man, she commits adultery.”
Hearing this, we would wonder why Jesus was spelling out a legal position harsher than the one in Moses’ day. He probably isn’t doing that but is simply not opening the door for another interpretation of marriage than the original one. If mercy was shown in Moses’ time, we can be sure mercy and grace can be found today. But this does not alter God’s intention. He does not ordain divorce, nor does He ordain every marriage, as some are obviously, from the outset, a disastrous union.
Verses 13 & 14 People were bringing little children to Jesus to have Him touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this He was indignant. He said to them “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.”
The parents probably thought it would be good for their children to have some kind of blessing from Jesus. The disciples were thinking that this was an unnecessary diversion, an interruption. But this was to undervalue the child and Jesus would not agree. He showed that children have great importance in the eyes of God. So He welcomed them.
Verses 15 & 16 “I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the Kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” And He took the children in His arms, put His hands on them and blessed them.
Adults can learn from children. In coming to God through Christ, an attitude of humility is needed. Children show that. Their approach is simple, they trust implicitly. All must come to God this way.
Verse 17 As Jesus started on His way, a man ran up to Him and fell on His knees before Him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
This eager man must have heard enough to know that Jesus taught with Godly authority.
We see this in the way he addresses Jesus and in the importance of the question. He believed in the possibility of everlasting life.
Verses 18-20 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good –except God alone. You know the commandments: Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, do not defraud, honour your father and mother.” “Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.”
Jesus is certainly not denying that He is good. If He is good then He is God. The man needs to know who Jesus is and who he himself is—that is, a sinner. But he misses the point by claiming that he has kept the law. He must be good! Jesus is about to test his goodness.
Verses 21 & 22 Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” He said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.
Jesus must have felt sympathy for this man’s mistaken zeal. But he also saw his shortcomings including his greed. He turned out to prefer his riches before Christ. By turning away he made his choice.
Verse 23 Jesus looked around and said to His disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!”
Not impossible, but hard. In coming to Jesus we must trust in Him alone, not in riches or anything else.
The teaching of Jesus is for us as much as it was for His immediate listeners. We can learn about the sacredness of marriage, the importance of childlike faith and the need for complete honesty before God. He knows us through and through as He did this rich man. We cannot hide anything. But if we confess our great need to Him and ask for forgiveness and eternal life, He will give them. His promises never fail.