Teachings on marriage and divorce.
Mark 10:13-16 [see also Matt. 19:13-15; Lk. 18:15-17]
10:13 People [probably parents] were bringing [parents thought it important to have a distinguished rabbi to bless their children] little children [Gr. “paidia” could mean any child from infancy (cf. Lk. 18:15) up to twelve years old] to Jesus to have him touch [perhaps because they believed Jesus’ touch would convey a special blessing from God; Matthew adds, “and pray for them” (19:13)] them, but the disciples rebuked them [scolded the parents for interrupting Jesus].
Mark told of an occasion when people, probably parents, were bringing little children to Jesus. Parents have the primary responsibility for spiritual instruction in the home (see Deut. 6:6-9) and for bringing their children to Jesus.
One of the greatest experiences my wife and I have had in life is that of leading our children to place their faith in Jesus for salvation. The Greek word for “children” in this verse refers to children ranging in age from babies to preteens. It was customary for parents in Jesus’ day to bring their children to an elder or scribe so that he could touch them or bless them.
The disciples rebuked those who were bringing their children to Jesus. Perhaps they were trying to protect Jesus from what they thought was an annoyance or because they thought that the children were unworthy of His time and energy. How sad!
We should never hinder or prevent others from coming to Jesus, no matter how young or old. Instead, we have a responsibility to facilitate the process of bringing others to Jesus. We ought to demonstrate Paul’s attitude, “We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God” (2 Cor. 5:20b).
Note: How do you relate to children who are not your own or not your relatives? Do you ignore them or seek ways to affirm them?
10:14 When Jesus saw this [what the disciples were doing], he was indignant [Gr. “aganaktew” is used of Jesus only here in the Gospels and means “much grief”]. He [Jesus viewed children as significant persons (in the first-century, unwanted infants were killed or left alone to die and abortion was an accepted part of pagan society)] said [Jesus took advantage of this opportunity to teach a spiritual truth] to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them [“stop hindering them” or “never stop them”], for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these [does not mean that children are automatically in the kingdom of God; children are needy, helpless, and dependent on others; those seeking to enter God’s kingdom must have a childlike attitude (openness, humility, trust, acceptance)].
When Jesus saw what the disciples were doing, he was indignant. It was painful for Him to see the disciples turning away the little children. Jesus immediately stopped the disciples and called for the little children to come to Him. Rather than seeing children as a nuisance, Christ affirmed and valued them. Do not hinder them, He said.
There is perhaps no greater crime we can commit against others than to hinder them from coming to Jesus. We must never hinder others from coming to Jesus by either word or example. Jesus explained that the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Jesus did not mean that heaven is reserved only for children, but rather that people need to approach God with the trust of a child.
Note: What barriers do parents often encounter in bringing their children to Jesus? In what ways are some parents guilty of keeping their own children away from Jesus?
10:15 I tell you the truth [these words introduce a solemn statement], anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God [the rule and reign of God in the lives of people] like a little child [with simple trust, joyfully, thankfully] will never enter it.”
Jesus explained that we must receive or welcome the kingdom of God with the trust, innocence, and humility of a child. Children do not approach God on the basis of their credentials, accomplishments, position, or power. Instead they approach Him with a simple, trusting attitude that demonstrates their dependence upon Him. God placed His wonderful gift of salvation on the lower shelf where it is within the reach of children and where the proud must bow down in order to obtain it.
10:16 And he took the children [each individual child] in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed [means “to call down blessings on” or “to bless greatly”] them.
In a gesture that must have warmed the hearts of those present, Jesus took or embraced the children in His arms. He tenderly put his hands on each of them and blessed them. All people, especially believers, should follow Christ’s example of showing care and concern for children, including the unborn. Like Jesus, may use our arms to embrace children and our hands to bless them—but never to harm them.
Note: What implications do these verses have for the abortion issue?
10:17 As Jesus started on his way [refers to Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem and the cross (Mk. 11-16 records the last week of Jesus’ public ministry)], a man [rich (Mk. 10:22), young (Matt. 19:22), ruler (Lk. 18:18)] ran up to [eagerness, earnestness] him and fell on his knees [expression of sincerity; showed respect and honor for Jesus as a distinguished rabbi; man set aside his pride in order to kneel before Jesus] before him. “Good teacher,” he asked [man believed Jesus could answer his question], “what must I do [man believed goodness defined by human achievement and that salvation must be earned] to inherit eternal life? [life’s most important issue; cf. Jn. 17:3 re: Jesus’ definition of eternal life; man recognized that something was missing from his life – he did not have the assurance that he had eternal life]”
10:18 “Why do you call me good [Jesus was not denying His own goodness and deity; wanted to know if the man was trying to flatter Him or really understood that God is the source of goodness]?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone.
10:19 You know the commandments [cf. Ex. 20; Deut. 5; Jesus cited the last six commandments]: ‘Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, do not defraud [to rob, to deprive, holding back wages of one hired], honor your father and mother.’”
10:20 “Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy [indication of spiritual pride or ignorance; man sincerely felt he had obeyed outward demands of the law but had obviously not heard Jesus’ inward interpretation of some of the commandments (Matt. 5:21-48); perhaps he thought so because he was comparing himself with others].”
10:21 Jesus looked at [penetrating gaze that saw all the way to the man’s heart] him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor [the man was trusting in his possessions as his basis for securing eternal life; the man’s riches were a barrier between himself and God; wealth occupied place in his life that belonged to God (violation of first commandment)], and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow [follow as a disciple] me.”
10:22 At this [the man faced the most important decision of his life] the man’s face fell [to become gloomy]. He went away sad [grieving and sorrowful], because he had great wealth [his gold remained his god; his possessions possessed him].
10:23 Jesus looked around and said to his disciples [Jesus took advantage of this teachable moment], “How hard [because wealth breeds self-sufficiency] it is for the rich [word often means things or possessions: property, wealth, means] to enter the kingdom of God [the rule and reign of God in the heart of an individual]!”
Note: Other rich men who missed eternal life…
• man preoccupied with wealth Lk. 12:16-21
• man indifferent to God & needy Lk. 16:19-31
10:24 The disciples were amazed [perhaps because many viewed wealth as a sign of God’s favor] at his words. But Jesus said again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God!
10:25 [exaggerated illustration to make a point (hyperbole)] It is easier for a camel [the largest animal known to those who heard Jesus’ words] to go through the eye of a needle [Luke used word for surgical needle in Lk. 18:25] than for a rich man [perhaps because material wealth can make people blind to their spiritual needs] to enter the kingdom of God.”
10:26 The disciples were even more amazed [to be overwhelmed], and said to each other, “Who then can be saved [to rescue from a deadly plight]?”
10:27 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this [refers to entering the kingdom] is impossible [human achievement cannot qualify anyone for eternal life], but not with God; all things are possible with God [salvation is a divine accomplishment].”
10:28 Peter said to him, “We have left everything to follow you [implication is that they had done what the rich, young ruler had refused to do]!”
Note: The cost of following Christ…
• Peter & Andrew left fishing business
• James & John left fishing business / father
• Matthew left job as tax collector
10:29 “I tell you the truth,” Jesus replied, [1: there will be rewards for following Jesus] “no one who has left [note precious things listed, a reminder that it costs to follow Jesus] home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel
10:30 will fail to receive a hundred times as much [not a promise of material riches; some rewards may be material in nature, but greater rewards are spiritual] in this present age (homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields — and with them [rewards], persecutions [2: there will be persecutions for following Jesus]) and in the age to come, eternal life [the greatest possession].
10:31 But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”