MARK CHAPTER 10.
A Question concerning Divorce. Mark 10, 1-12.
The journey to Judea: V. 1. And He arose from thence, and cometh into the coasts of Judea by the farther side of Jordan; and the people resort unto Him again; and, as He was wont, He taught them again. Jesus now, definitely and finally, left Galilee. He went out from Capernaum, after the last discourse to His disciples, journeyed southward along the shores of the Sea of Galilee, and then crossed the Jordan into Perea, on the far side of the Jordan, on His way into Judea. But as He went along His way, probably even in Galilee, but especially in Perea, people crowded about Him, His identity being known, and they went with Him, they accompanied Him. With His usual Savior's mercy, He saw these people in their great spiritual need, and therefore He again followed His custom of teaching them the one thing needful.
The Pharisees tempt Christ with a question: V. 2. And the Pharisees came to Him and asked Him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife? tempting Him. V. 3. And He answered and said unto them, What did Moses command you? V. 4. And they said, Moses suffered to write a bill of divorcement and to put her away. The Pharisees were still dogging Christ's footsteps. As soon as a multitude gathered about Christ, they felt it their duty, in the interest of the Jewish Church, to interfere, and to keep Him from teaching the people. Here they purposely put their question in a broad manner, in order to lead the Lord into a trap, which they thought they had skillfully concealed. If He answered in the negative, they could accuse Him of disagreeing with Moses, and the people would be displeased, since the morals, so far as the Sixth Commandment was concerned, were very loose. If He answered in the positive, they could accuse Him of furthering the prevailing looseness of morals. But Jesus saw through their scheme, and prepared to catch them in their own trap. It was a fine battle of wits. He asked them what Moses had commanded them, with the accent on the verb "command." He wanted them to state what God had said at the institution of marriage concerning the strength of the marriage-tie. They, in turn, hoped to avoid an unpleasant corner in the argument, by referring to Deut. 24, 1, and stating what Moses had permitted. In order to safeguard the position of the wife at least to some extent and to prevent the looseness of the marriage-tie, which was such a scandal in all heathen countries, Moses had, in his legislative enactments, at the instigation of God, enjoined the giving of a writ of divorcement, of a letter properly setting forth the reasons why a man rejected his wife. The object was to prevent divorces for all kinds of trivial reasons.
The answer of Jesus: V. 5. And Jesus answered and said unto them, For the hardness of your heart he wrote you this precept. V. 6. But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female. V. 7. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife; V. 8. and they twain shall be one flesh; so, then, they are no more twain, but one flesh. V. 9. What therefore God hath joined together let not man put asunder. Jesus was well acquainted with this bit of Mosaic legislation, and He also knew the reasons for the adoption of this precept in the Jewish law. The form of government in the Jewish nation during the first centuries of its national existence was that of a theocracy, of a direct legislating by God. The order to which they referred was given by Moses in his capacity as Jewish lawgiver, in order to prevent worse injury and injustice. The government will sometimes find it a wise policy to leave some wrong go unpunished, lest a great many innocent people suffer with the guilty. But this dispensation of Moses, which was given on account of the hardness of their hearts, did not in any way invalidate the institution of marriage and the holiness of the tie of wedlock. That institution and the words of institution are apart of the Moral Law of the universe; there, in the beginning, God plainly stated His will and intention with regard to the obligations of man and woman in the state of wedlock. He did not create a single sex, but He made two sexes, male and female, Gen. 1, 28. And these two sexes, represented in one man and one woman, were to be united in marriage. Therefore the second passage from Genesis, 2, 14, indicates the normal, the usual state of affairs. A man, having reached marriageable age, and having observed the other preliminary steps enjoined by God, will leave his father and his mother, will sever the relationship of childhood and youth, and will be joined to his wife, will enter into a new relationship which will make him and his wife one flesh. It is, then, no longer a question of their own whim and choice, but of God's ordinance, so that they are no longer two, but only one body and one flesh. It is the most intimate union which is possible in the external, temporal world. This fact should be stated and reiterated in our own midst without ceasing, lest the sanctity of the marriage-bond be disregarded more and more. Young people in many cases do not seek the institution of Christ in the sense in which Christ made the ordinance; they have other motives: the pursuit of voluptuousness and luxury. The inviolability of the marriage contract before God has become a blasphemous jest and mockery. But Christ here says: What God hath joined together, where two people have agreed to become yoke-fellows, to bow their necks under the same yoke, to draw the wagon of life together, to share, under God's rule and blessing, all joys and sorrows alike, there this yoke shall not be broken; no man, not the young people or their parents, not relatives or so-called good friends, no court in the world, shall and can separate them. Even if the courts declare the marriage bond dissolved, it still holds in the sight of God.
An additional explanation to the disciples: V. 10. And in the house His disciples asked Him again of the same matter. V. 11. And He saith unto them, Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her. V. 12. And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery. The disciples were still deeply imbued with the teaching of the scribes, of the rabbis, which they had heard from their youth. The statements of Christ differed so plainly from the customs with which they were familiar that they took up the matter with the Master once more in their lodging-place. They wanted to be sure that they had heard aright and that Jesus had nothing to add in further explanation to them alone. But He only summarizes once more what He said on the way: If any man divorce his wife, loose her from the marriage-bond, and marry another, he commits adultery to the prejudice of, against, the first. The loose morals in the intercourse between the sexes may have been the rule among the Jews, and constant association with these abuses may have made the disciples as callous as all the rest. But that does not affect one whit the ordinance of God. The same rule holds true in the case of a woman: If she divorces her husband, looses the marriage-bond that held him to her, as she could do according to Palestinian law in those days, 41) she commits adultery. Cp. Matt, 5, 31.32; 19,3-9.
Jesus Blesses Little Children. Mark 10, 13-16.
V. 13. And they brought young children to Him that He should touch them. And His disciples rebuked those that brought them. V. 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. V. 15. Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein. V. 16. And He took them up in His arms, put His hands upon them, and blessed them. It was while Jesus was still on His way to Judea, and while He was making the journey by easy stages, that one of the most appealing incidents in His entire ministry occurred. He had probably sat down in some village to rest for a few moments, when a new idea suggested itself to the mothers of the town. They brought little children of all sizes to Him, from infants in arms up, their request to Him being that He merely touch them, that is, put his hands upon them in blessing. There is no indication of a superstitious notion connected with the action. The children probably all loved the Savior at sight for His gentleness and kindness, and the hearts of the mothers were reached through the children. But here came interference from an unexpected quarter: the disciples harshly rebuked those that were bringing the children. They may have thought that the children were not worth while to bother with, and that the Lord needed the few moments rest and should not be annoyed. No sooner, however, did Jesus notice this peculiar solicitude of the disciples than He, in turn, became much displeased, He was distinctly annoyed and said to them: Permit the children to come to Me; do not hinder them. He speaks as under the stress of extreme vexation. And He gives the reason for His stern command: The Kingdom belongs to such as these; it is of such as these that the kingdom of God is made up, of children and of such as have childlike, simple faith in Jesus the Savior. It is a powerful declaration concerning the ability of the children to grasp and know the essential truths pertaining to their salvation in a much better and surer way than that usually chosen by the adults. This truth He states also from the other side, confirming His declaration with a solemn oath. If anyone does not accept the kingdom of God, Jesus the Savior, and the faith in Him which the Holy Spirit works in the heart, as a little child, he shall not enter that kingdom. And to emphasize His words still more strongly, the Lord did not hesitate to take the little ones up into His arms and into His bosom, and to bless them with the laying on of hands. "These verses no one will take from us; nor contradict them with valid reasons. For here it says that Christ wants it unforbidden to bring children to Him, yea, He commands them to be brought to Him, and He blesses them and gives them the kingdom of heaven; let us mark that well." 42) It is also worth while, at this point, to note what a Reformed commentator writes: "Though little children, they were capable of receiving Christ's blessings. If Christ embraced them, why should not His Church embrace them? Why not dedicate them to God by Baptism? - whether that be performed by sprinkling, washing, or immersion; for we need not dispute about the mode: on this point let everyone be fully persuaded in his own mind. I confess it appears to me grossly heathenish and barbarous to see parents who profess to believe in that Christ who loves children, and among them those whose creed does not prevent them from using infant baptism, depriving their children of an ordinance by which no soul can prove that they cannot be profited, and, through an unaccountable bigotry or carelessness, withholding from them the privilege of even a nominal dedication to God; and yet these very persons are ready enough to fly for a minister to baptize their child when they suppose it to be at the point of death!" 43)
The Rich Young Man. Mark 10, 17-31.
The question of obtaining eternal life: V. 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? V. 18. And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou Me good? There is none good but One, that is, God. V. 19. Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witnesss, Defraud not, Honor thy father and mother. V. 20. And he answered and said unto Him, Master, all these have I observed from my youth. After the incident with the young children, Jesus continued His journey, He went out and forward on His way. The inevitableness of the Passion and the end of Christ's life is always indicated in the gospels. Here one, a certain man, according to Luke, 18, 18, a ruler, the chief elder of a synagog in the neighborhood, stopped the Lord. The man came running to Him, He was much disturbed and excited; He threw Himself down upon his knees before Jesus. As an elder of the synagog he was fully acquainted with the laws and traditions of the elders, with all the customary interpretation of the various observances in vogue among the Jews. But he derived no satisfaction from that knowledge, he found no peace for his soul in the round of works prescribed there. The new Teacher would probably be able to help him solve the serious problem which he was battling with, the question of how to obtain the assurance of peace with God. His cry is: Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life? It is a cry which thousands of anxious souls that have been taught the way of works and self-righteousness have echoed since, not only among the Jews, but in all church bodies where salvation by man's own deeds is taught, Acts 16, 30. Note: The man speaks of doing something, of earning, if possible; and he wants to be considered an heir of eternal life, one for whom the glories will be laid up in heaven, in safe-keeping. Jesus does not answer his question directly, but by skilful catechizing tries to lead him to the right understanding of his petition and its fulfillment. Taking up the man's address first, He asks him why he applies the attribute "good" to Him. Far from rejecting the appellation, Jesus accepts it at once, but He wants the young man to understand the full import of the word. In calling Jesus good, he attributed to Him a quality of God Himself, he placed Him on a level with God, all of which is right and good. God is good; Jesus is good : they are on the same level. Now as for his question, Jesus reminds him of the fulfillment of the Law, since the perfect keeping of God's commandments, as the ruler had learned, would give him the assurance of heaven. The Lord mentions a few of the precepts of the Moral Law, those against adultery, against murder, against theft and robbery, against false witness, against fraud, and that demanding obedience to the parents. Note: The sequence of the commandments is immaterial. Jesus mentions only such as pertain to the second table, since these are of such a nature that a person ought to be able to note his transgressions of them very readily. It takes comparatively little spiritual knowledge and understanding to note the faults in thoughts, words, and deeds that are committed against one's neighbor. Jesus had noted at once that this young man was fully satisfied with an external probity before men. People of his stamp must always be referred to the total keeping of the Law of God, when they live so securely in their self-righteousness. If this method works a proper knowledge of sin, then there will also be opportunity for the knowledge of Jesus as the Savior of sinners, and for faith in Him. In this case. the man coolly stated that he had kept all these commandments from his youth. He was still so thoroughly bound in spiritual blindness that he supposed an outward abstaining from the deeds of wickedness and darkness constituted the. fulfillment of the Law. Here was true pharisaic conceit. It is the same experience which believers will have in their dealings with the self-righteous hypocrites of this 'World. If they live an outwardly moral life, then they believe they have fulfilled God will, and think they will be acceptable on the last day. And they have never examined their heart to see the mass of filth and transgression to be found there.
The decision: V. 21. Then Jesus, beholding him, loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou 1ackest: 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. V. 22. And he was sad at that saying and went away grieved; for he had great possessions. In spite of the young man's foolish answer, Jesus looked upon him earnestly, affectionately, He regarded him lovingly. He loved him, not only on account of his youth, his earnestness, and his evident sincerity, but because He wanted, if possible, to save his soul. The man was so utterly unconscious of his spiritual condition that only strong medicine would arouse him to a realization of his needs. He attacked him on his weakest side. Knowing that the man was rich, He told him that he should sell everything he had and give it to the poor. This giving up of the goods most dear to him, upon which he had set his heart, for the sake of the Lord, would assure him a treasure in heaven. And that would also make him a fit disciple of Jesus, one who would be true to his discipleship. This was the Lord's test to convince the man how far he still was from perfection, how badly he was yet lacking in the love toward God and toward his neighbor, how completely his heart was still bound up in his mammon. Perfect keeping of the Law is demanded of the whole world. Loving God above all things includes a full yielding to Him. Should He therefore demand, for the sake of the Kingdom, that we give up all our earthly possessions, yea, life itself, for His sake, and serve our neighbor in humility, there must be no hesitation on our part. This young man was not equal to the test. His face became overcast at the word of Jesus. With a sad face and a heavy heart he walked off. His great riches were his undoing, for upon them he had placed his affection. His amazed confusion at Christ's demand drove him away from the Savior. In a similar way thousands of people that have come into contact with the Gospel and the work of the Church are willing enough to listen, meanwhile priding themselves upon the perfection of their lives. But when a sacrifice is asked for the sake of the Savior, their zeal cools very rapidly. Then they lose interest in the work of the Church, and turn back to the life that offers them more for the present. But this life is not the end.
The lesson of riches: V. 23. And Jesus looked round about and saith unto His disciples, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God! V. 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! V. 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 looked round in the circle of the disciples to see what kind of an impression the incident had made on them. Then He said, very impressively, that those possessing riches would only with difficulty enter into the kingdom of God, come to faith, and finally get to heaven. And as the disciples wondered concerning these words, He repeated the saying, making it a little plainer for their benefit. Trusting in this world's goods makes it impossible for a person to enter into the kingdom of God. For under Him the rule holds good that a person may have this world's goods by God's blessing, for God distributes them as He sees fit. But, incidentally, those, that are rich and are Christians at the same time, hold these goods as though they possessed them not. They consider. themselves only the stewards of God, whom God has entrusted with more than others, and therefore will hold responsible in a greater measure. They are therefore not really rich in the sense which the children of this world attach to the term. Jesus brings out the gravity of the situation still more emphatically by stating, in the form of an Oriental proverb, that it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. This is in no way an exaggeration, for even as it is possible for anyone to come to faith and remain faithful to the end only by the power of the Holy Ghost, so it is true especially in the case of such as have a special hobby on earth which they love, to which they cling. Such conduct, whether it concerns riches, or goods, or lusts, or wife, or children, hinders the work of the Spirit.
Jesus explains: V. 26. And they were astonished out of measure, saying among themselves, Who, then, can be saved? V. 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, by this time, were almost gasping with perturbation, with very excessive astonishment, saying one to another: Why, who, in that case, can be saved? It was the strongest expression as to man's utter inability to work out his own salvation that they had ever heard. They naturally must draw the conclusion. But Jesus gives them the explanation. Regeneration, conversion, faith is, in every case, a miracle of the grace of God. He is able to do what seems impossible before men. Through His Word He can change hearts of stone into hearts of flesh, children of Satan into His own dear children, heirs of damnation into heirs of heaven. Through His power, exerted through His means of grace, He is able also to tear the hearts away from the love of earthly things and let them rest in full satisfaction and complete contentment in their Savior.
The reward of the followers of Christ: V. 28. Then Peter began to say unto Him, Lo, we have left all, and have followed Thee. V. 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 V. 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. V. 31. But many that are first shall be last; and the last, first. The incident they had just witnessed set the disciples to thinking. And Peter, always forward, whose heart had by no means been fully weaned from the things of this world, proposed a question, probably in the name of all the disciples. With meaning emphasis and with a backward look at the rich young man that had proved himself unequal to the test, he reminds Christ of the fact that they have left all they had behind and entered into His discipleship. But with all his self-consciousness, Peter did not quite dare to finish the question. But Jesus knew and understood. It was His mercy that had called Peter and all the disciples, and they were receiving every day of their discipleship under this wonderful Master more than they had left. But Jesus gave them a further reassurance. If one leaves all that has been dear to him in this world, all his relatives, his house, and all his goods, for the sake of the Redeemer and because of the Gospel, Christ's reward of mercy will be correspondingly great, yea, an hundredfold greater and richer than a person could expect. He that loves Christ and His service more than anything on earth, will receive a compensation far exceeding all that he can understand. Even in this world, in the riches of Christ and the Gospel and the Kingdom of Grace, relationships are established which are far closer and dearer than all blood-relationships of this world. And, in addition, there are richer goods, more wonderful, more lasting possessions that are gained here. They outlast this world. What if they are accompanied by persecutions from the children of this world! They are merely a relish, they merely enhance the value of the spiritual blessings in heavenly gifts which fall to the lot of the believers. And all these gifts merge into the still more wonderful possessions of eternal life, where the fullness of God's riches of mercy will be showered upon those that have remained faithful to the end. This hundredfold compensation, extending into the life beyond, is so certain that its not having been received presupposes the not having forsaken. The depth, fullness, and satisfying beauty of this reward of mercy cannot be adequately described with human language. But Christ adds a word of warning against security. A mere outward membership in the Church, though it may have begun in Baptism, is no guarantee of these blessings of mercy. And even if a person for the sake of the Lord has worked, suffered, sacrificed much, he should beware lest he put his trust in these works, and hope to gain heaven on the strength of his having done more than others. He that wants to earn anything before God with his works, and finally puts his trust in his works, falls from grace and has no place in the kingdom of heaven. But all poor sinners that hope to be saved by faith only will be received by the Friend and Savior of sinners.
Priority in Christ's Kingdom. Mark 10, 32-45.
Third foretelling of the Passion: V. 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, V. 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; V. 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. The nearer they came to Jerusalem, the more clearly the object of Christ's journey was brought out by His bearing and by His words. They had spent some time in their journey down the valley of the Jordan, and had now crossed the river and were slowly ascending toward the range of hills, on one of which Jerusalem was situated. The bearing of Jesus became stranger as time went by. It was characterized by a resoluteness, by a firmness that troubled and astonished the apostles, and caused all those that followed Him to fear. The strong emotion under which He was laboring, the majesty and heroism which shone forth from His manner, the fact that He preferred to walk alone and ahead of them: all these factors filled all the disciples with fear and with forebodings of an impending calamity. In addition, He took the opportunity of impressing once more on His apostles the fact and the manner of His Passion. He took the Twelve aside, He wanted these, His intimates and His successors in the work of preaching, to realize that they must give up their carnal ideas of an earthly Messianic kingdom. The prophecy which He here spoke is more detailed than the foregoing ones. It specifies that the Jewish authorities would deliver Him into the hands of the Gentiles, the Romans; it enumerates the indignities which He would have to endure during His Passion: mocking, spitting, scourging. These facts were vivid, not in His imagination, but in His knowledge. But always, like a shining beacon, came the comforting assurance of the resurrection. By the constant repetition of this fact Jesus hoped to impress the disciples that they would remember it at the critical period.
The request of Zebedee's children: V. 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. V. 36. And He said unto them, What would ye that I should do for you? V. 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. Jesus had, just before leaving Capernaum, given the apostles a lesson in humility, and tried to impress upon them the chief consideration in the kingdom of God, that of unselfish service. All the more unpleasant, in view of the fact that He was on the way to do the greatest service, to make the greatest sacrifice of all, this incident must have jarred upon Him. For about this time, while they were still in the neighborhood of the Jordan, Salome, the wife of Zebedee, and her two sons, James and John, came to Christ with a request. The mother spoke first, but was seconded by her sons. Jesus, in His kindness, made allowances for their weakness and heard their petition, which was not exactly distinguished by meekness. They asked very urgently that they might be allowed to occupy the places of honor, on the right and on the left hand of Jesus, in the Kingdom of Glory. We here see "that James and John comport themselves evilly beyond measure, since they simply want to force Christ the Lord to make something special of them before the other disciples. There is not only the shameful sin (which is unusually objectionable in the case of preachers), pride and their own honor; for he that regards his own honor, benefit, and the like, and models his preaching accordingly, will not do much good; but such people also have no idea what Christ and His kingdom really stand for. For they suppose that He will begin a worldly kingdom, like other worldly lords. That He wants to forgive sins and give eternal life, and that they are in need of it, of that they do not think, but suppose if they only are great princes and lords, they would have sufficient. And the other ten disciples are not much wiser or more pious. For on account of these things they begin a murmuring, and did not want to give the two brothers an advantage." 44)
Christ's gentle reprimand: V. 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? V. 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; V. 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. Jesus here shows a little of the wealth of kind consideration which He is always ready to give to those that sin from weakness. "He deals with them in the most gentle manner, does not give them a harsh word; but instructs them with all kindness that they desist from their request and have other thoughts of His kingdom and their ministry, as a father admonishes his children in all goodness." 45) In order to do this, He asks them whether they think they are able to drain the cup of suffering which would shortly be offered to Him, and be baptized with the baptism of blood which would soon be His lot. They answered in the affirmative, not knowing what they were affirming. "That is Christ the Lord's kingdom, and He Himself, the King in this kingdom, opens the work. He drinks the cup, that is, He suffers, and suffers more and more severely than all His subjects, as we see from His gospel. Such example all those must follow who acknowledge Christ as their Head and Lord, as Paul says to the Romans, 8, 17, that we must become like to the image of the Son of God in suffering, and thereupon in glory." 46) The same cup they would not and could not drink, in spite of their protestations. But they would learn to imitate Him in following the road of suffering and death after Him, and for His sake, for that is the Christian's lot and the Christian's distinction, incidentally also his assurance that God is a loving, kind Father. "For when Christ, our dear Lord, offers us His cup and wants to baptize us with His baptism, that is, when He lays His cross upon us, we are apt to conclude that such cup and baptism is an indication that God is angry with us and does not mean well with us. For thus reason looks upon it: if one is happy and everything goes well, he has a gracious God; but he with whom things do not go well, he has an ungracious God. But here we see that this judgment is wrong. For Christ Himself drinks the cup and permits Himself to be baptized; and yet He is God's dear child, in whom the Father has the highest and greatest pleasure, and with whom He cannot be angry. Now Christ has only the best and kindest intentions toward His Christians, for otherwise He would not have given Himself into death for them.... Therefore the Christians should have no horror of the cross, but should rather (as it is in truth) accept it as a sure sign that they are God's children and in the kingdom of Christ." 47) At the same time Christ, gently, but firmly, informs them that the fulfillment is a matter of the majestic counsel of God. He has prepared the places of honor and selected those that are to occupy them. As the entire salvation is a matter of God's mercy, so also are the rewards of mercy. They cannot be distributed as earthly monarchs and rulers dispense their bounty, according to the whim of the moment.
Another lesson in humility: V. 41. And when the ten heard it, they began to be much displeased with James and John. V. 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. V. 43. But so shall it not be among you; but whosoever will be great among you shall be your minister; V. 44. and whosoever of you will be the chiefest shall be servant of all. V. 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. The other ten apostles had witnessed the entire incident with jealous apprehension and growing indignation. Not that they did not have the. same aspirations, but that others had voiced them first and probably been near accomplishing their design. Jesus believed the time appropriate to repeat the lesson of a short time ago. He called the Twelve to Him, apart from the rest of the disciples that. were with them. He then placed a contrast before them. Those who pass for, and are esteemed as, rulers by the Gentiles lord it over them, and the great ones of the world exercise dominion, use their power as they see fit, chiefly to enlarge their power. That is the case in earthly matters. But within the kingdom of Christ things are, or at least ought to be, far different. There greatness is measured, not by the amount of authority exercised, but by the amount of service rendered. The greater the service that is rendered, in unselfish humility, the higher will be the standing of a person in God's kingdom. The more thorough the self abasement in the interest of one's neighbor and for love of Christ, the greater it will be accounted on God's credit slip. And in this the apostles and all Christians have the most glorious example before their eyes always: He, the great Lord of heaven, who came to earth as the Son of Man, who might have demanded and enforced the service of all creation, did not demand and accept this service, but Himself became the lowest servant of all. That was one object of His coming. And the other is closely connected with this. He freely gave His life as a ransom, as the price of redemption. His life, His blood, was given to pay the guilt of the whole world, and though there is a large number that reject His redemption, there are also, by His grace, many that believe on Him and are saved by such faith. "Mark especially the verse where Christ says: The Son of Man is come to give His life as a ransom for many. For this verse teaches.... of the forgiveness of sins, and how we may obtain it. With our works and merit we are lost; for we owe God such a great sum that it is impossible for us to pay it. How may we then become rid of the guilt? In no other way but that our dear Lord Jesus Christ accepts our guilt and takes our sins from us and lays them on His back and suffers death, which we had earned by our sins, in order that we might be free and liberated from death." 48)
The Healing of Bartimaeus. Mark 10, 46-52.
At Jericho: V. 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 highwayside begging. V. 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. V. 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 here relates the healing of the blind man on the way out of Jericho. Luke tells the healing of one before they entered the city, Luke 18, 35. And Matthew takes both miracles together into one account, Matt. 20, 29. Jesus came to Jericho and stayed there at least for several hours. His coming and the occurrences during His stay raised quite a stir in the city, and therefore He was accompanied not only by His disciples, but also by a great multitude of people, to whom He spoke words of eternal life as they walked along the way. Near the gate of the city, at a place where all the people passed by, a blind beggar was sitting. Mark notes his name and also explains its meaning for the non-Jewish readers: Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus. The noise of the multitude reached him, and he obtained the information that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by. Of Him and of His many miracles Bartimaeus had heard. He had come to the conclusion that the man who could perform such miracles and preach in such a wonderful, convincing way of the need of repentance and of believing, must be the Son of David, in the special, Messianic sense; the Prophet of Galilee was the promised Messiah, Matt. 9, 27; 12, 23; 21, 9. Acting upon this certainty, he called out aloud to Him, pleading for mercy and help. And when many people in the crowd, impatient with His whining and crying, bade him hold his peace, he cried all the louder: Jesus, Thou Son of David, have mercy on me! He would not be denied. Mark well: Jesus undoubtedly knew of the man's presence there, even before he cried the first time, but He permitted him to call once and then again. He wants persistence in prayer, He is delighted with importunity of the right kind. Not to grow weary in pleading with Jesus is the secret of success in obtaining spiritual and also temporal gifts.
The healing: V. 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. V. 50. And he, casting away his garment, rose, and came to Jesus. V. 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. V. 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. Jesus was now satisfied as to the man's sincerity and faith. As soon as He expressed the wish to see the blind man, there was a marked change in the attitude of the people. Probably the very ones that were so insistent in bidding the beggar hush now showed him every attention. Undoubtedly the expectation of a miracle also stimulated them to greater activity and kindness. They call to the blind man from all sides: Courage, rise, He calls you! They are now eager with their assistance — absolutely true to life. The effect of all this on the beggar was electrifying: having thrown away his mantle and having jumped to his feet, he came to Jesus, assisted by willing hands. Upon the Lord's question, he has only one plea, uttered now with an air of confident expectation. He was sure that the Son of David could help him, and he did not doubt that the Messiah would help him, if He so wished: Rabbuni, that my eyes might be opened. Jesus knew his faith and treated him accordingly. He dismissed him with the words: Thy faith has saved thee, made thee whole. Because of his faith, the Lord had heard his prayer, for faith is the greatest force in the world. Immediately the miracle was performed, and the former blind man now joined the disciples and followed Jesus as He went on His way toward Jerusalem. This remarkable cure is another proof, not only of the sovereign might, but also of the benevolence of Jesus. His kindness and compassion are His most prominent characteristics in this story, a fact which redounds also to our comfort.
Summary. Jesus gives a lesson on marriage and divorce, blesses little children that are brought to Him, is interviewed by the rich young man and applies the lesson of the incident, makes another prediction concerning His Passion, gently reprimands the sons of Zebedee and all His apostles for their ambition, and heals blind Bartimaeus.