The Agora
Bible Commentary

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Mark 10

Mar 10:1

Vv 1-12: We are living in a society where these verses -- about the indissolubility of marriage -- are made a total mockery. Here is an area where the laws and attitudes of society are at variance with God. Our young people growing up today have an ever-increasing problem trying to match the beliefs that they know to be correct with the attractive views of society. Perhaps it helps to remember what God wanted us to learn from this situation. It was an institution of great antiquity, going right back to Adam and Eve (v 6); it is ordained of God, and underwritten by Him (v 9). It is part of a picture which is very much part of the most intimate aspects of our lives now -- to point forward to the relationship which Christ has with his bride: Eph 5:25-33.

THAT PLACE: That is, Galilee (Mat 19:1). Was this his last look at his boyhood home?

CROWDS OF PEOPLE CAME TO HIM: "Large" crowds (Mat 19:2). Organized pilgrimages?

Mar 10:2

TO TEST HIM: To catch him at his words: Mar 12:14,19; Joh 8:5,6; Mar 2:24.

Mar 10:4

No command (v 3), but merely a permission (v 4)!

Mar 10:5

YOUR HEARTS WERE HARD: Hard-heartedness is first seen in Pharaoh (Exo 4:21; 7:3,13; 8:15,32; 9:12,34; 10:1,20,27; 11:10; 14:4,8). So when this description is used of anyone in Israel, it is very pointed: 'You are being like the oppressing Egyptians from whom I have delivered you!' Cp Deu 15:7; 2Ch 36:13; Psa 95:8; Isa 63:17; Mark 10:5; 16:14; John 12:40; Rom 2:5.

Mar 10:6

Quotes from Gen 1:27 (here) and Gen 2:24 (Mar 10:8): thus Jesus endorses what are considered -- by some -- to be two different "accounts" of creation.

MALE AND FEMALE: Lit, A male and A female, ie one of each!

Mar 10:8

See Lesson, Divorce.

Mar 10:13

// Gen 48:14.

See Lesson, Laying on of hands.

WERE BRINGING: "Prosphero" = to offer, as a sacrifice! Just previously (Mat 19:1-12; Mar 10:1-12), Jesus was talking about the sanctity of marriage; the children are a large part of his reason.

TO HAVE HIM TOUCH THEM: All the occasions of Jesus touching, or being touched, in the context of healing (notice that not one of them is in John's gospel): Mat 8:3,15; 9:20,21,29; 14:36; 17:7; 20:34; Mark 1:41; 3:10; 5:27,28,30,31; 6:56; 7:33; 8:22; 10:13; Luk 5:13; 6:19; 7:14,39; 8:44-47; 18:15; 22:51.

BUT THE DISCIPLES REBUKED THEM: Cp Mat 20:11: when some are rewarded, others murmur.

Mar 10:14

Note: faith (Rom 1:17; Gal 3:11; Heb 10:38), not ignorance (Eph 4:18), is essential to salvation.

TO SUCH AS THESE: That is, to those who are similar (in some respect) to these. Similarity? A childlike faith: cp Mat 19:23; Mar 10:23; Luk 18:24; 1Pe 2:2; 1Co 14:20; Mat 18:3,4; Psa 131:2.

Mar 10:15

Mar 10:15

But of course this cannot mean that the kingdom is closed to those who would first come to it as adults!

Mar 10:17

HIS WAY: Christ walks in the "way" of life -- which is, first of all, the "way" of death, the "way" to Jerusalem, the "way" to the cross (cp Mar 10:32,52).

A MAN: "A certain ruler" (Luk 18:18).

Suggestion: the rich young ruler was Joseph Barnabas -- who later does in fact heed the exhortation of Jesus (Acts 4:36,37).

WHAT MUST I DO?: Note stress on the word "DO"!

INHERIT: There was no good work learned from any good rabbi that could EARN eternal life. Cp Rom 9:31,32.

Mar 10:18

There was no "good" work, or any combination of "good" works, learned from any "good" rabbi that could EARN eternal life (cp Rom 9:31,32). Poss a roundabout argument also: 'But if I really am good, then I must be from GOD!'

Mar 10:21

ONE THING YOU LACK: An allusion to Psa 23:1, LXX: "I shall want (or lack) nothing." The rich young man lacked but one thing -- ie Yahweh as his shepherd. Thus he lacked all things, ie all things meaningful. The remedy: "Come, and follow ME."

KJV adds: "Take up your cross...": "You have not the [need of] making of your own cross, although unbelief is a master carpenter at cross-making; neither are you permitted to choose your own cross, although self-will would fain be lord and master; but your cross is prepared and appointed for you by divine love, and you are cheerfully to accept it; you are to take up the cross as your chosen badge and burden, and not to stand cavilling at it. This night Jesus bids you submit your shoulder to His easy yoke. Do not kick at it in petulance, or trample on it in vain-glory, or fall under it in despair, or run away from it in fear, but take it up like a true follower of Jesus. Jesus was a cross-bearer; He leads the way in the path of sorrow. Surely you could not desire a better guide! And if He carried a cross, what nobler burden would you desire? The Way of the Cross is the way of safety; fear not to tread its thorny paths" (CHS).

Mar 10:22

HE WENT AWAY SAD: This young man is the only person in the Bible who is said to have gone from the presence of Jesus with sadness.

HE HAD GREAT WEALTH: Or rather, his wealth "had" him (Deu 6:10-13). "If your hand offends you, cut it off" (Mar 9:43). Ct Mat 20:34; Mar 10:52; Luk 18:43: the rich man loses all; the poor man gains all. Also ct Zaccheus, a wealthy man who gave it up (Luk 19:6,8).

Mar 10:23

"These words of Jesus covered not only the rich but the poor also. The rich man glorying in his riches is far from the Kingdom of God, but the poor man trusting in his hard-earned pittance is no nearer. Indeed the poor man may clutch his few pounds more tightly than a rich man his thousands. The emphasis in each is upon the same thing. Our trust must not be centred upon riches, great or small, or upon honour, or men, but upon God" (MP 283).

Mar 10:24


THOSE WHO TRUST IN RICHES: It is poss righteously to have riches, but not to trust in them: Abraham, David, Zaccheus. A theme of Christ's parables: Luk 12:15-21; 16:19-31.

Mar 10:25

IT IS EASIER FOR A CAMEL TO GO THROUGH THE EYE OF A NEEDLE THAN FOR A RICH MAN TO ENTER THE KINGDOM OF GOD: "The proverbial saying... refers to the absolutely impossible... Attempts to weaken this hyperbole by taking 'needle,' not as a sewing needle, but as a small gate through which an unladen camel could just squeeze and only on his knees are misguided. This conjecture may come from some of Jerome's allegorizing" (EBC).

An old Heb proverb: "Open a needle's eye to God, and God will open to you a gate large enough for camels."

"These words of Jesus covered not only the rich but the poor also. The rich man glorying in his riches is far from the Kingdom of God, but the poor man trusting in his hard-earned pittance is no nearer. Indeed the poor man may clutch his few pounds more tightly than a rich man his thousands. The emphasis in each is upon the same thing. Our trust must not be centred upon riches, great or small, or upon honour, or men, but upon God" (MP).

Mar 10:26

For every man of this world is "rich" is something: "rich" in pride, if nothing else.

Mar 10:31

"Do not take your salvation for granted... At our baptism, we do not step onto a smooth, effortless moving sidewalk that will automatically carry us comfortably into the Kingdom, though many act as though they assume this is so. Rather we stand at the foot of a steep and rugged hill, and there is no ski-lift. That hill is our probation: the 'working out of our salvation with fear and trembling.' God knows the height and degree of difficulty of our hill, and He knows the lifespan before us that He has given us to climb it. We shall need ALL that time, and all the available help He has provided and promised in so many ways. How long is it since your baptism? How far up the hill of God have you faithfully climbed? There are tempting but fatal relaxing places along the way, among them that deceptive worldly conceit called 'retirement.' Are you in one of them? The day draws on, and the top is still above you" (GVG).

"Why is it that the last shall be first? What is it that makes this so difficult to accept? The answer came in the form of an ugly little dog. Sophie has taken over our hearts and in many respects our house. She is not particularly pretty (one ear stands up and one lies down, and she has patches of hair that inexplicably shoot up like a lion's mane); nor does she have any pedigree. She is, however, a good little dog and clearly loves us. She follows me wherever I go all over the house. She can't stand to be away from me. When I do go away and come into the house, I receive a greeting of a king. When I walk into the house, this little dog is celebrating like this is the most miraculous thing that has even happened -- her master came home!

"Isn't this a little how God views us? Let's face it, we don't provide God with a whole lot of value. He doesn't really 'need' us any more than I 'need' my dog. What we do provide Him is love, devotion and faithfulness. When Jesus comes back, will we celebrate like my dog celebrates when I come home? Or will we be like the bad dog who has spent the day chewing the sofa cushion, and then slinks off to hide? Do we follow our Master wherever He will lead us? Do we obey commands? Is our love demonstrative to Jesus in the way my dog's love is to me?...

"Many of the qualities we attribute to great men -- intelligence, boldness, speaking abilities, education, beauty, wealth, etc -- mean absolutely nothing to God. In fact, these attributes can impede our service to God if they translate into pride. God loves us because we love Him (even though He loved us first!), and even if we are like ugly little dogs!

" 'Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things -- and the things that are not -- to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him' (1Co 1:26-29)" (KT).

Mar 10:32

UP TO JERUSALEM: His face set like a flint (Isa 50:7). The good shepherd going before his sheep (Joh 10:4).

Mar 10:35

This request is also made by the mother of James and John (Mat 20:20,21).

Mar 10:37

Soon they would see Christ crucified, with two thieves on his right and left.

Mar 10:38

Note that Jesus does not question their sincerity.

CUP: Sym judgment (Psa 11:6; 75:8; Jer 49:12; Lam 4:21; Hab 2:16), God's fury (Isa 51:17,22; Rev 14:10; 16:19); suffering (Eze 23:31-33). Cp thought in Joh 18:11.

Mar 10:39

They would suffer also: cp Act 14:22; 2Ti 2:11,12; 1Co 15:29n; Mar 8:34.

Mar 10:40

See Heb 12:2. Cp order here.

Mar 10:42

LORD IT OVER THEM: Calling themselves "Benefactors" -- a title (Luk 22:25n).

Mar 10:43

"From the words of Jesus to His disciples we may properly conclude that there is nothing wrong with the desire to be great, provided:
"It is vitally important, however, that we know what Christ meant when He used the word great in relation to people. No one whose heart has had a vision of God will ever consent to think of himself as being great. There are two kinds of greatness recognized in the Scriptures: an absolute uncreated greatness belonging to God alone, and a relative and finite greatness achieved by or bestowed upon certain friends of God and sons and daughters of faith, who by obedience and self-denial seek to become as much like God as possible" (AWT).

Mar 10:45

RANSOM: "Lutron": means of loosing, ie from the law of Moses: cp 1Ti 2:6; Rom 3:24. See Lesson, Redemption.

FOR MANY: "Anti": thus, "in place of many", ie the many sacrifices of the Law of Moses. Not: "a ransom on behalf of many".

Mar 10:46

Was Jesus leaving (Mat 20:29; Mar 10:46) or approaching (Luk 18:35) Jericho? Prob he was between an old part of the city and the new part of the city -- hence the difference.

THEY CAME TO JERICHO: The city of palm trees, who lift up righteous hands to heaven (Psa 92:12; Song 7:7).

AS JESUS AND HIS DISCIPLES... WERE LEAVING THE CITY: The city of the curse (Jos 6:26).

BARTIMAEUS: Mark frequently uses Aramaic expressions: Boanerges (Mar 3:17), Talitha koum (Mar 5:41), Korban (Mar 7:11), Ephphatha (Mar 7:34), Rabbi (Mar 9:5; 11:21; 14:45), Bartimaeus (Mar 10:46), Abba (Mar 14:36), Golgotha (Mar 15:22), Eloi (Mar 15:34).

There were actually two beggars (Mat 20:29). Typifies the blind Gentiles, healed by Christ, the "Light of the world".

TIMAEUS: Sig "unclean".

BEGGING: A man must be conscious of his poverty before he starts to beg.

Mar 10:47

OF NAZARETH: The despised Branch of healing (Mat 2:23n). Nazareth = "netzer", branch: cp Isa 11:1 ("Branch out of root of Jesse").

Mar 10:48

ALL THE MORE: Like the widow in Luk 18:1-8.

Mar 10:49

"CALL HIM." SO THEY CALLED: A second-hand call, a great test of faith.

Mar 10:50

THROWING HIS CLOAK ASIDE: Not something a blind person would typically do! "Cast aside sin which so easily besets us" (Heb 12:2). How do we react when our worldly possessions get in our way? He groped in "darkness" to find Jesus!

Mar 10:52

He leaves the city of the curse (see Mar 10:46n), and follows Jesus to the city of blessing.

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