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Gene’s Daily Scriptural Postings

Flashback Episode — Challenging Culture: Mark 10:1-16

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Flashback Episode: Year in Mark – Episode 26: In two somewhat unrelated events, see how Jesus challenges two difficult subjects, and how Jesus steps into one of the most politically divisive arguments in our world today.

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Read the transcript:

As we continue through Mark’s gospel, we come to what is likely the least politically correct challenge Jesus faced, and a topic that is one of the most divisive topics that our culture has at this point in history. However, Jesus never shied away from difficult situations, nor did He avoid responding to challenges that came His way. Like most of the events where the religious leaders challenged Jesus on certain topics, Jesus’ response shifted the focus onto a higher perspective than those bringing the challenge had been looking at the challenge.

Before jumping in to read this passage, I will put out the disclaimer here that what Jesus shares might be offensive to some people, but Jesus is sharing God’s original ideal. Jesus is very clear that where humanity is currently is not anywhere near God’s ideal, and it is likely that the majority of those who would claim to be offended at what Jesus shares in this event have rejected God, and in this case, rejecting God also means rejecting His ideals.

Our passage is found in Mark’s gospel, chapter 10, and we will read it from the New Century Version of the Bible. Starting in verse 1, Mark tells us:

1 Then Jesus left that place and went into the area of Judea and across the Jordan River. Again, crowds came to him, and he taught them as he usually did.

2 Some Pharisees came to Jesus and tried to trick him. They asked, “Is it right for a man to divorce his wife?”

3 Jesus answered, “What did Moses command you to do?”

4 They said, “Moses allowed a man to write out divorce papers and send her away.”

5 Jesus said, “Moses wrote that command for you because you were stubborn. 6 But when God made the world, ‘he made them male and female.’ 7 ‘So a man will leave his father and mother and be united with his wife, 8 and the two will become one body.’ So there are not two, but one. 9 God has joined the two together, so no one should separate them.”

10 Later, in the house, his followers asked Jesus again about the question of divorce. 11 He answered, “Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman is guilty of adultery against her. 12 And the woman who divorces her husband and marries another man is also guilty of adultery.”

Before continuing our passage, I want to pause and emphasize something that is easily missed when reading this event. Within Jesus’ response, Jesus quickly shifts the focus away from the current state of the world in sin, and into a different perspective. The majority of Jesus’ public response is from God’s perspective. Jesus tells the crowd that “when God made the world, ‘he made them male and female’”.

This not only quotes from the creation account in Genesis, but it also affirms God’s direct hand in creating the human race. God is the Author of life, and He created male and female. When marriage unites two people, Jesus tells us that God sees these two people as one, not as two. When God joins a couple together in marriage, His ideal is for them to remain united.

It is only in Jesus’ private response that we see Jesus challenging the disciples with the truth that divorce and remarriage equals adultery in God’s eyes. It is true that adultery is a much broader term than the two situations Jesus describes, but Jesus pulls these two edge cases into this broad term when most people would be inclined to exclude them.

From how Jesus shares His response, as followers of Jesus, we should publicly support honoring our marriage commitments, and place the greatest emphasis on living our lives as examples for others to see what God’s ideal is like. Marriage is a personal commitment to your spouse in the eyes of God, and it is an agreement between both spouses and God. If you are not a spouse in a marriage agreement, what goes on in this marriage agreement is in almost every case none of your business.

In Jesus’ private reply, we see the redefinition of adultery to include divorce and remarriage. This suggests to me that we only privately talk to individuals about this, and then sparingly at best. A conversation like this should be framed with lots of prayer, lots of listening, and lots of God’s love and forgiveness present. It also is best done with a pastor, counselor, or spiritual leader present. Adultery is a significant sin, but it is nowhere near unforgivable. The Bible has many examples of adultery being forgiven, and God doesn’t condemn this sin anymore than any other sin that He wants to forgive.

After sharing this challenging topic, Mark then shifts to something less challenging or politically incorrect, but something that was still a pretty big culture shift from how things were done in first century Judea. Continuing in verse 13, Mark then describes that:

13 Some people brought their little children to Jesus so he could touch them, but his followers told them to stop. 14 When Jesus saw this, he was upset and said to them, “Let the little children come to me. Don’t stop them, because the kingdom of God belongs to people who are like these children. 15 I tell you the truth, you must accept the kingdom of God as if you were a little child, or you will never enter it.” 16 Then Jesus took the children in his arms, put his hands on them, and blessed them.

In this conclusion to our passage, Jesus shifts our perspective again. While many people might think of those who are older or who are more mature spiritually to be closer to God’s kingdom, it may actually be the opposite. It’s possible that those who are older or more mature might be further away from God than small children might be.

In the context of Jesus’ challenge to the disciples to let the children come to Him, the disciples likely believed they were doing Jesus a service because they were shielding Jesus from what might be considered an insignificant task. I don’t see any hint in this passage that any of the children being brought to Jesus needed to be healed or helped. Instead, the parents simply wanted God’s blessing to be on their children.

When Jesus corrects the disciples and lets the parents bring their children to Him, we can learn that God values spending time with us. While God is at times very task-oriented, He is also very people-oriented and He values the time we spend with Him. If you haven’t spent quality time with Jesus, or if you haven’t had much time available to spend with God, it may be worth looking closer at this event.

Jesus tells us that the kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children. Mark has described these children as “little children” and that means they are the most dependant on parental help than at any later stage of their growing up. In one sense, the more we depend on Jesus and on God for our salvation, the closer we are to entering God’s kingdom, and the more we let God into our lives and hearts, the better we will be able to represent Him in the world today!

While this passage contains some pretty significant challenges, Jesus did not come to judge people; He came to love, forgive, and redeem everyone who wants to be loved, forgiven, and redeemed.

As we come to the end of another podcast episode, here are the challenges I will leave you with:

As I always challenge you to do, intentionally seek God first and choose to align your life to God’s will. View life from God’s perspective and choose to accept God like a little child. Depend on God for your salvation and for everything you need in life. A little child is not equipped to survive on their own, and sin has made us incapable of surviving spiritually without God’s help. Let’s together depend on God for help, for our salvation, and for everything we need both today and every day moving forward.

Also, continue praying and studying the Bible for yourself to learn and grow closer to God each and every day. Choose to spend time with God in prayer and study to fall in love with Him like He has already fallen in love with You. God loves you more than you could even imagine, and Jesus came to help us realize the love God has for each of us!

And as I end every set of challenges by saying in one way or another, never stop short of, back away from, chicken out of, or abandon where God wants to lead you to in your life with Him!

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