I hope that during the holidays you’re continuing to read. Things can get really hurried and harried. Don’t let the crush of the season, divert you from the greater “reason for the season”.
Divorce — Mark 10:3ff
Mark’s version of this teaching from Jesus is less expanded on than Matthew’s. Matthew includes the allowance of divorce for the cause of adultery, but Mark doesn’t. The point to take away here is that God takes the marriage covenant very, very seriously, and He takes a very dim view of divorce. This is a teaching that needs more emphasis today in our churches and in our culture, when so many seem to think that marriages are no different than any other contract that can be broken on a whim. Covenants may be like a contract in that they are an agreement, but they are far more serious and unbreakable. It’s not just a piece of paper; it’s making family! We must take it more seriously for the sake of our children, for the sake of our society, for the sake of our churches, and for the sake of our souls — this last one especially! Yes, breaking covenants can send you to Hell.
Inheriting eternal life — Mark 10:17
This rich young ruler wanted eternal life, but he apparently didn’t want it bad enough. I’ve talked about the cost of discipleship before, but I’ll emphasize it here again; we really must be willing to part with anything and everything. Jesus didn’t give this challenge to this man to teach some greater virtue in poverty; there’s no great virtue in poverty. Jesus simply knew this man’s weakness and wanted to reveal it and challenge it. Satan will use our weaknesses, you know; it is the very point of Jesus telling us at a different point that we must hate father, mother, etc. to follow Him. What would Jesus have said to you?
Leading the fearful — Mark 10:32
Jesus is on His way to Jerusalem for the last time. His disciples are fearful for good reason. Jesus ought to be fearful; fearful things await Him in Jerusalem. But walking ahead of them, Jesus demonstrated a courage that impressed and amazed them all. Perhaps this is part of what inspired the apostles in their martyrdom, a memory of Jesus courageously and faith-fully marching to Jerusalem. Leaders lead courageously from the front, elders, deacons, and preachers.
The Lord has need of it — Mark 11:3
There are some commentators who are convinced that Jesus had made prior arrangements for His triumphal entry into Jerusalem on a donkey. If it wasn’t an previous arrangement, it was foresight; and if it was foresight, it provides a great example that some nameless fellow gave us all — immediate and selfless stewardship in the real sense of the word. Stewardship is not preservation of the things we have been given, but the proper and liberal use of what we have been given in the Lord’s service. “The Lord has need of it,” said the apostle. “Oh, OK, says the owner of the donkey; if it’s for the Lord, of course!” Are you preserving your stewardship or using it? The Lord won’t need it in pristine shape, just well used and maintained.
Believe you have received — Mark 11:24
I get asked a lot about what praying in faith is about and I think that Jesus explains it here so very well. Praying in faith is then acting like you’ve received what you’ve asked for. What would you be doing if you believed that you were receiving what you’d asked for, for sure. An example Peter stepping out of the boat onto the water: he asked Jesus, Jesus said yes, and Peter stepped out. What have we NOT received because we did NOT ACT as if we had received it? Why hasn’t God answered your prayer? Have you asked in faith as Jesus has defined it?
The God of the living — Mark 12:27
When you die, it is not the end of life. Your spirit continues on; it is even conscious (Lk. 16:19ff). Moreover, we will be raised again on the last day. This question, raised by skeptical Sadducees, was rebuked by Jesus because they should have read the books of Moses that stated clearly that God is not the God of the dead, but of the living! Take comfort and be hopeful even in the throes of grief or walking personally into the “valley of the shadow of death”. God is the God of the living!
Out of her poverty — Mark 12:44
As Jesus watched people put money into the Temple treasury, He had seen some big donors throw their substantial gifts in. But when a widow came in and put in only two pitiful copper coins, Jesus the Son of God was impressed. The amount wasn’t big by visual standards, but it was huge by spiritual standards. It was more than the spare change we sometimes give, it was more than just a generous contribution (which implies some sacrifice), it was everything.
See you tomorrow, Lord willing