Divorce: Jesus gives the divine perspective on the sacredness of marriage. This “one flesh union” of man and wife is more than a symbol in Jesus’ eyes. God joins them together, not just human ceremonies. We find in the Bible that God uses this relationship as a metaphor for His faithfulness to us, and of our singular devotion to God. Idolatry and adultery are similar faults.
Blessing the Children: Just as in Matthew, Jesus has to correct the values of the disciples. They are trainees and bound to make mistakes, but Jesus instructs them without any lack of clarity. Jesus loves the little children!
The Rich Young Man: Please notice again that Jesus did not dislike the Rich young man, he loves him. Here is a young person that has tried to be good by being pure of heart and good to his neighbours. But is he ready to Love the Lord with all his heart? Is there anything that he thinks is more valuable than God? Jesus sees his Achilles tendon, his vulnerable point: money. Right now he loves his wealth and comfort more than God or his (poor) neighbours. Jesus loves him enough to let him walk away, no doubt hoping that the rich young man will come to his senses later on.
The disciples see this and wonder how anyone can be saved. Good question! We all loved something more than God, which is at the heart of why we do anything that is contrary to God’s will. Jesus answer should shock and amaze us: It is impossible for us to let go of our false ‘gods’, but God is able to set us free from greed, insecurity, bitterness, selfishness, or whatever we are stubbornly holding onto. God can save us if we ask him to.
Jesus predicts his death quite clearly, except that he uses the term Son of Man to refer to himself. The Son of Man is the subject of a vision which the prophet Daniel (7:13) had of the coming eternal ruler of earth. Perhaps the disciples hoped that the Son of Man meant someone other than Jesus, because despite all this foreshadowing by Jesus, they were still surprised by his arrest and death.
James and John sense that the end is coming, that Jesus will soon come into his kingdom. They have no clue that Jesus is not setting up a comfortable throne for himself and his friends, but is going to the Cross as a servant seeking and saving the lost. They want a piece of the power, because they still misunderstand God’s Kingdom. They may know that the “cup” Jesus speaks of is unpleasant, but they will endure anything to get the prize they are expecting. Would they be so eager to drink the cup of death, if they knew that by it they would benefit others, instead of themselves? In fact, James was martyred and John laid down his life in prison, exile, hard labour and ministry. When the time came to “drink of that cup” they did so knowing that their lives were being spent so that others would believe in Jesus and receive eternal life.
Blind Bartimaeus was healed of course of blindness, but I can’t help thinking that we know his name because healing was the beginning, not the end of his story. Maybe he had no friends of family as a poor blind beggar, may be he was of no account to the crowds who tried to shush him. But when he was given sight, the new life he chose to live was to follow Jesus. I expect by the time Mark started to draw up an account of Jesus’ life, Bartimaeus was a well known figure in the Judean church!
“If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4 Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (Php 2:1–4)
Lord, you’ve helped us, forgiven us, and saved us. now you call us to follow you, whatever the cost. Help me, Jesus, Help me, to love you more that life itself.