What does it say?
These two chapters overlap with what we saw yesterday in Luke 18. Matthew 19 differs from Luke 18 by opening with teaching on marriage and divorce (19:3-12 and also Mark 10:2-12). Matthew also gives Jesus’ teaching on children and his encounter with the rich young ruler (19:26) that we saw in Luke 18:15-30 (also Mark 10:27). Likewise, all three gospels give Peter’s question to Jesus about what reward they would have for having left all to follow him (Mat 19:27-30; Mark 10:28-31 and Luke 18:28-30). Only Matthew, though, records Jesus promising The Twelve to sit upon twelve thrones in the fulfillment of the kingdom.
Mark 10:32-34 gives Jesus’ prediction of his death in Jerusalem that we saw already in Luke 18:31-34 and will see again in Matthew 20:17-19. In Mark 10:35-45 Jesus deals with disputes among the disciples as to who would have positions of prominence in the kingdom, apparently brought on by their inability to comprehend the nature of his coming death, resurrection and return in glory (10:35-45).
Jesus healing blind Bartimaeus as he leaves Jericho is the focus of Mark 10:46-52. This is apparently not the same healing of a blind man we saw earlier in Luke 18:35-43 since that healing took place as Jesus was approaching Jericho, not leaving. Blind beggars on the outskirts of a city would have been as common then as homeless people with cardboard signs on freeway ramps.
What does it mean?
In the story of the rich young ruler, don’t miss the key issue. The young man desires assurance of eternal life and has an impressive resume of good works. Jesus asks why he has addressed him as “Good Master,” since there is none good by God himself. In other words, Jesus presses him to recognize his deity as God in human form. Sadly, the young man cannot turn loose of his belief that his good works should be enough to save him. By telling him to sell all and give it to the poor, Jesus is not giving him a formula for salvation but pushing his real hot button – he had more faith in his riches than in God and would not turn loose of them for anything.
As Jesus deals with the dispute among his disciples over who would get the more prominent positions, he is turning conventional wisdom about leadership upside down. Biblical leadership is based on sacrificial service, not titles or positions.
How will I respond?
Have I allowed myself to develop a sense of entitlement? Do I think that I have earned merit or reward because of following Jesus? If so, I will confess it now.