Studying the Gospels Together: Mark Ten

As part of the ReMarkAble series at First Baptist Church, I will be releasing weekly posts with my notes for those who are using the Studying the Gospels Together (STGT) method in their Adult Community Group. You can read more about the STGT Method here and how this site is integrating the ReMarkAble series here.

I apologize for how terribly delayed the publishing of this STGT post has been. I hope that it did not create difficulty for any of you ACG leaders who are preparing to lead a discussion about Mark Ten.

Introductory Comments

As the narrative continues to get closer and closer to Jesus entering Jerusalem, and his eventual crucifixion, death and resurrection, there are still a number of things we have to learn. At this point, Jesus ended his Galilean ministry, and he is on the road to Jerusalem. While each of the synoptic gospels expounded differently upon the latter half of Jesus' Galilean ministry, they are more consistent with one another throughout this portion of Jesus' ministry.

In Mark's tenth chapter, Jesus continues to teach his followers about what it means to follow him. It begins with some teaching on divorce. Similar to previous teaching, Jesus is not just concerned with the behavior itself, but the motivations and deeper condition of the heart. He once again explains what it requires to be a disciple of Jesus in his interactions with the children and the rich young ruler. Jesus foretells of his death and resurrection for a third time and in response to the disciples' lack of understanding, continues to articulate the need for humility and the rejection of privilege as a follower of Jesus..

Things to Note

In the STGT Method, we begin by noting five different activities of Jesus.

(P) Prayer

There is no specific reference to Jesus praying in this chapter.

(W) Reads or references God’s Word

There is no specific reference to Jesus reading or referencing God's Word in this chapter.

(F) Relates to God the Father

There is no specific reference to Jesus relating to God the Father in this chapter.

(HS) Relates to the Holy Spirit

There is no specific reference to Jesus relating to The Holy Spirit in this chapter.

(R) Overflows in loving relationship with people

This will be the most common category we see. Jesus is constantly interacting with people through his teaching, preaching, healing, casting out demons, or discipleship. I will not list all possible ways that this is seen in this chapter, but only mention a few.

(10:1-12) Teaching about divorce: The subject of divorce has been widely debated within the church. Much could be said on the matter, but I will try to keep my comments brief. The first thing to note is that Jesus actually teaches something more strict than the current standard among Jewish leaders. In most other cases, Jesus loosens the bonds of the Pharisee's oppressive teachings.. Here, Jesus tightens the bonds. This points to the extremely high value that should be placed upon marriage. Jesus grounds his teaching in the creation story, where God creates male and female and institutes the first marriage. There might be reasons that divorce is pursued (Mt. 5:31-32 & 1 Cor. 7:15), but these should not be pursued lightly. Jesus gives equal weight to both men and women in the marriage (Mk. 10:11-12), and does not want divorce to happen without the weightiest of consideration.

(10:46-52) Jesus heals blind Bartimaeus: This is the last healing story that is recorded in Mark's Gospel. Here is a blind beggar, sitting at the roadside, when he hears that Jesus is approaching. He begins to yell out, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!" Bartimaeus knew where to go for healing. People rebuked him, telling him to be silent. Yet, Bartimaeus persisted. It says that "he cried all the more." Jesus heard his cries, stopped and called Bartimaeus to himself. Oh, what a joy it is, when our savior calls our name! A request is made for healing, and Jesus says, "Go your way, your faith has made you well." Jesus heals both the physical and the spiritual blindness of the Bartimaeus. This blind beggar can see. He has had his sight restored. The spiritual and physical sight that has been restored, contrasts the disciples continued lack of ability to see what Jesus is teaching - seen in the requests of James and John only a few verses earlier. It is also interesting to note that Jesus does not send this man on his way or silence him from telling others, as he has with so many other recipients of healing. It says that the man "followed him [Jesus] on his way." We should all be encouraged and challenged by the persistent faith of Bartimaeus. He knew where to find true healing, and he sought it without fear of being chastised or silenced by the crowds. We should all seek to do the same.


Questions for Reflection

What does this passage tell us about who Jesus is?

The suffering servant: Jesus again foretells of his death and resurrection. The disciples still do not fully understand what is happening. This chapter doesn't tell us exactly who Jesus is, and while there is no direct link in this passage to Isaiah 53, it can be helpful to reflect on the fact that Jesus is the suffering servant. The first half of Mark's gospel, Jesus is established as the messiah, the king. Over the last few chapters, Jesus has predicted his death three times, and he will continue to progress toward the cross that is before him. Jesus is the king, but he is also the suffering servant Isaiah spoke of so many years before.

"He was despised and rejected by men;
   a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
   he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

Surely he has borne our griefs
   and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
   smitten by God, and afflicted
But he was pierced for our transgressions;
   he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
   and with his wounds we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
   we have turned - every one - to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
   the iniquity of us all."

- Isaiah 53:3-6

As Jesus continues to move toward the cross, toward his impending suffering and death, it is clear that King Jesus will first fulfill the role of the suffering servant before his eventual return at the end of time. It was hard for his disciples to understand how this future fit into their paradigm of who they thought the messiah would be. Jesus makes it clear though, he would suffer, die and three days later he would rise again.

What does this passage tell us about why Jesus came?

Jesus came to serve as a ransom: Jesus came, so that many would be set free. Jesus foretells his death and resurrection for a third time. The disciples still fail to grasp what is happening. Immediately following Jesus explaining his impending death and resurrection, Mark records how James and John approach Jesus and ask for the privileged seats beside Jesus. Jesus cautions them, and explains that if they follow Jesus, suffering will very possibly come to them as well. Further, being great is the result of being a servant to all. Jesus himself did not come "to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many (10:45)." Jesus came to serve others and offer them freedom from the oppression of their sin.

What does it say about what it means to follow Jesus?

Jesus must be our priority above all things: In the story of the rich young man, the clear message from Jesus is that he must be our highest priority. Jesus and his ways must be the thing to which we are most committed. The rich young man was doing fairly well as the law was concerned, but he lacked one thing. Jesus commanded him to sell all that he had and give to the poor. The man went away sad.

The man was more concerned about maintaining his wealth than he was with following Jesus. It is very difficult for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God, because their riches have a tendency to become more important to them than Jesus.

We must have humility and service toward one another: In response to Jesus telling his disciples about his perilous future, again they respond in selfish and foolish ways. James and John approach Jesus and request to sit at his right and left hand in his glory. Jesus responds by teaching them that to follow Jesus means to suffer as he will suffer and to serve as Jesus serves. Being great in the kingdom is about serving others. Interestingly, a similar pattern occurs in Mark 9:30-37. Jesus predicts his death and resurrection, and immediately following Jesus' statement,  the disciples are arguing about their own greatness. Jesus once again explains that greatness comes when we humble ourselves and serve one another.

Questions for Application

In response to what you have read, what is one action step you believe God is calling you to make this week?

(1) Like Bartimaeus, are we passionate about seeking Jesus? One possible action step you could take this week, would be to intentionally seek Jesus, even when you fear the possibility of embarrassment or ridicule. How can you more passionately pursue Jesus in your own life?

(2) Seek to serve the people around you. Another possible action step would be to serve others in such a way that you can confidently say you served others more than you were served yourself.

(3) Like every chapter, there are a variety of applications that could be made. I would love to invite you to make comments regarding applications that you see for your own life. Please share with one another in the comments section below, and encourage one another as we seek to apply God's Word to our lives.

What is one thing you learned this week you could share with someone else? Who do you plan to share it with?

This question is meant to simply help us learn how to share what we are learning from Jesus. We see in this chapter that Jesus wants his message to spread. When we follow him, we become conduit of that message. We do not need to feel the burden of sharing everything we know about Jesus in every conversation we have, but it can be more natural to share something we are learning. What is something you learned that you could share with someone else? Think about who you might want to share it with.