Chapter 10 hinges around the implications of following Jesus. Jesus makes clear that to follow him means being like him. That is not the same as being exactly him as no one else is going to pay the cost of sin for others and experience forsakenness by God for the sake of others. No one else can have exactly the intimacy with God that is experienced within the Trinity. But to be a disciple of Jesus or as we term it today a Christian means following the way of Jesus. The early church was originally known as followers of the way.
The chapter opens with Jesus teaching on marriage and divorce. The Pharisees were testing Jesus over divorce and the law of God. Their understanding was that obedience to every detail of the law was necessary for righteousness. Jesus taught you need to understand what lay behind the law. Marriage in the bible is an image of the unity and bond between Jesus and the church. Marriage is also God ordained not only as a means for procreation it also reflects the intimacy and strength of bond there exists in the Trinity of the Godhead, an inseparable permanent unity of complete love and unity. Each one serving, loving and bringing joy to the other. That is what is meant by becoming one flesh. Marriage therefore ought to be entered into as a covenant that reflects the relationship within the Godhead and the covenant relationship between God and mankind. Marriage is not a requirement of God, Paul opted for singleness to allow him to be totally dedicated to his gospel mission but most if not all the other apostles were married.
Discipleship also involves a simple trust and obedience that is childlike. v15 This presents a major obstacle to many today, as in our arrogance we consider we have to understand everything and be equal to God before we can accept him. We have a modern assertion that everybody is equal and then impose an intellectual barrier to a relationship with God. A small child does not have to understand everything about their parent to both love and be loved. Discipleship is not about passing a test it is about a loving relationship. The Pharisees found this incomprehensible.
Central to discipleship is what Jesus said to the rich man who desired eternal life. ‘No one is good – except God alone.’ V18 The rich man was in every day terms a good man. He was obedient to the law. When Jesus asked him to give up his wealth and follow him he was not making a requirement of all to sell everything to be a disciple. He was highlighting what was preventing that particular man from following him, his wealth and possessions. The most important part of what Jesus said was not sell everything it was follow me. For that man material wealth was a barrier to discipleship he could not overcome at that time. Jesus then taught his disciples that there is a far greater wealth of a different kind in the Kingdom of God even if we lose what the world values most now. v30
Jesus then addressed a problem his disciples had right up to the point of his crucifixion. That was the desire to be considered great in the kingdom of God. He firstly explained that in God’s kingdom, ‘many who are first will be last and last first.’ v31 Jesus then for the third time in Mark’s gospel spoke about his own arrest, torture and execution to come as they approached Jerusalem. The disciples still did not grasp the depth of humility, suffering and cost that was to be Jesus’ way. They continued their preoccupation with their own status in heaven. Jesus took them back to his teaching on his own way of suffering and asked, ‘Can you drink the cup I drink or be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with?’ Yes, they answered, but their thinking had still not moved on. Jesus came back to them to say, your thinking is still as the world thinks. God’s kingdom way is the opposite. ‘Whoever wants to be first must be a slave to all.’ v44 Being a slave to all was and is Jesus’ way. To be a disciple and follow him is to be as he is.
What are our barriers to our relationship with Jesus? Could it be wealth, intellectual pride, status or a lack of faithfulness?
Have we understood Christ’s “Way” is radically different from the world’s?
From heaven you came