Each week throughout the ReMarkAble series at First Baptist Church, we will have a guest post from various pastors, church planters, missionaries, professors, bloggers, etc. I will always post them on Tuesdays.. This week, Dr. Scott Klingsmith has provided his reflections on Mark's tenth chapter.
Scott and his wife Carol have served with WorldVenture since 1985, working for 20+ years in Central and Eastern Europe in the areas of theological education and the encouragement of new missions movements. More recently he’s served on loan to Denver Seminary, where he teaches in the areas of intercultural ministry and missions. Their passion is to see students and future pastors equipped to engage the needs of the world, particularly in a cross-cultural setting. They’ve been a part of 1st Baptist’s missions team for almost 30 years. They have three married kids and two grandchildren.
Mark 10 gives us a series of episodes in Jesus’ public ministry, which speak to particular issues in the American church today. He teaches on divorce and remarriage, on the place of children in society, on materialism and wealth, on suffering and sacrifice, on the role and posture of a leader, and he demonstrates his concern for the weakest members of society. As is common in Mark, it’s a busy chapter, filled with confrontations with antagonists and followers alike. Above all else, Jesus shows that the values of the Kingdom of God are different from those of the society of his day, and this continues to be true for us now.
What does this chapter tell us about who Jesus is?
The first thing we see is that Jesus is counter-cultural. He calls the normal assumptions about spiritual and social life into question. Society said divorce is a man’s prerogative; Jesus said women should be protected (1-11). Society said children were a bother; Jesus said children were the ones who could best understand God’s kingdom (12-16). Society said following the commandments was the way to eternal life; Jesus said giving to the poor was the path of true discipleship (17-22). Society said riches were a sign of God’s blessing; Jesus said it’s almost impossible for the rich to enter God’s kingdom (23-31). Society said a leader is one who receives honor; Jesus said a leader is one who serves (35-45). Society said the handicapped of society are to be ignored; Jesus heals those who society ignores (46-52).
Secondly, we see that Jesus is fully aware of his calling and what will happen to him, yet he resolutely faces his suffering and death for the sake of his followers (32-34). He knew that difficult times were ahead, but he was also confident that he would rise from the dead. This chapter is a turning point in Jesus’ ministry. He moves increasingly from public ministry full of miracles to more private ministry, helping his disciples to understand what his kingdom really entails.
What does this chapter tell us about what it means to follow Jesus?
Jesus is showing that discipleship will be more costly and more counter-cultural than his disciples had supposed. Don’t get divorced. Pay attention to children. Don’t let wealth get in way of salvation. Be concerned for women and children and handicapped. Hoarded wealth damaged the poor, who were weighted toward women and children. Concern for salvation had a component of caring for the weak of society.
The demands of the kingdom are higher than people expect (no divorce allowed, give up wealth, serving instead of flaunting authority), but entrance requirements into the kingdom are lower than people expect (receiving like little children, simply trusting God for the impossible). Participating in God’s kingdom is both more difficult and easier than people imagined. It is harder to enter (on one’s own) – in fact, it’s impossible. On the other hand, it’s easier to enter (with God’s help). But once you’re in, there are higher standards to be lived out.
What in particular stands out to you from this chapter in Mark?
I’m struck again how relevant Jesus’ teaching is. Although he was responding to situations as he encountered them, he nevertheless hits on topics that are particularly challenging for us today. Divorce is so common in the American church that we almost don’t notice it any more. It is so easy for us to be swept up in American materialism that we don’t recognize what a trap it is. And although we speak much about servant leadership, we are not particularly skilled at practicing it. In each of these areas, we find it easier to fit into our culture than to stand against it. Jesus calls his disciples, and us, to live out the values of his kingdom in ways that show we are different. When we do this we will provide a model of life that is attractive to those around us. Faithfulness in marriage, concern for the weak of society, contentment with what we have, humility in how we interact with people and how we lead – these are all traits that will commend our neighbors and even our antagonists to the Lord we serve.