Mark 10:1-52

"We continue again in Mark chapter 10. Let's say a word of prayer and we'll begin our study. 'Once more Lord, we ask that you open our eyes to the wondrous things in your law that are in here in Mark 10. And Lord, as we come to your Word, I know that it's so important that our hearts have a right attitude, that we have ears that hear and hearts that understand, or are willing to understand. So we pray that you could even soften our hearts even now so that we would hear what you have to say to us Lord. I do pray that you would give us vision as we read your Word, as to what you desire to do in and through us, Lord. But thank you for your Word. We pray your Holy Spirit would be upon us now, in Jesus name, Amen.'

Let's begin with verses 1-12, "Then he arose from there and came to the region of Judea by the other side of the Jordan. And multitudes gathered to him, as he was accustomed he taught them again. The Pharisees came and asked him, 'Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?' testing him. And he answered and said to them, 'What did Moses command you?' They said, 'Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce and to dismiss her.' And Jesus answered and said to them, 'Because of the hardness of your heart he wrote this precept. But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female. For this reason a man shall become joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh, so then they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together let not man separate.'

In the house his disciples also asked him about this same matter, so he again said to them, 'Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her. And if a woman divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.'"


Now from the end of chapter 9 and beginning here in chapter 10, it's important to note that there's been a gap in time. The Holy Spirit has led Mark--you know Mark is a fast-moving gospel--has led Mark to focus now on the last few weeks of Christ's ministry here on earth. We had about six months now in chapter 9 before the cross, and now we're just a couple weeks before that. And so we skip some time. The other gospels contain some of the things that took place during those six months. In fact, about a third of the gospel of Luke contains some of the things we don't have here, as we go, transitioning from chapter 9 to chapter 10. So we can learn about some of these things that he taught and did in other gospel accounts. But Mark has chosen now to move us right up to those last weeks. And the rest of the gospel of Mark focuses on those last days.

As you read in verse 1, Jesus has departed from the region of Galilee, it's most likely he's come into the area of Samaria, which is the area today of the West Bank, south of Galilee, and he has crossed, potentially, some mountains into the Jordan valley, and then into what is the nation of Jordan today. And you can see that today from the Jordan valley, as we go there in February, you can see the nation of Jordan. And then probably back into the Jordan valley, he's come now into the area of Jerecho, proceeding to the city of Jerusalem. Of course we know why. Well, as usual, along the way, folks all around know him, and multitudes have gathered. And he uses the opportunity, as he's got people around him, to teach them, to give them the truth, to give them light, to give them Life in the teaching. So he begins to teach them. As you see there, without a doubt, the Pharisees come, they're just consistently on him now. And I guess they're probably trying to set him up, is what I presume. But they come with a question. And you read the question there, they come asking him, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?". We don't have part of it there, but in Matthew 19 they refer to "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any reason?" is the specific question. If he takes a conservative view, response to divorce, well potentially it may offend Herod, as Herod hears about it--of course Herod and Herodias, that's why John the Baptist was ultimately beheaded, because of John the Baptist's hard-line teaching on that. But then if he takes a liberal way with this, you know, they're always trying to trap him, but if he takes a liberal way, maybe he's gonna offend many of the conservative Jews that would maybe have more of a conservative approach to divorce and remarriage and things. Well, no doubt, the issue of divorce was a hot topic in Jesus' day as it is today--lot's of philosophies and understandings, different thoughts about it. There were two primary understandings, and I would say today there are two primary camps. One real big camp today in the 1990's in America, and then the smaller camp. But you could probably divide this issue into two primary camps, as you could then. There was this guy Hillel, you may have heard about him, he was a rabbi. He had a liberal interpretation of the law, of Deuteronomy 24. He taught that a husband could divorce his wife for any reason, ah, just about anything, whatever he thought. You know, if she burnt a meal, well he would consider her unclean. If maybe he saw a woman who was more attractive than his wife he would consider his wife unclean in respect to this other woman now. So if his was unclean, according to Deuteronomy 24 [his liberal interpretation of it] he could issue a certificate of divorce. That's what this guy Hillel, the rabbi taught, and he had a lot of followers [naturally]. There was another guy, Shamei, a more conservative rabbi who taught the only grounds for divorce in God's eye was marital unfaithfulness--a more conservative response [and probably the proper interpretation of Deuteronomy 24 as we'll see when we read Jesus' response].

Well Jesus responds to the Pharisees by testing their own understanding of what Moses taught. And they respond by basically quoting part of Deuteronomy 24. But they have, I'm sure, a certain understanding, a more liberal understanding (it seems the Pharisees do, as you put the different accounts together). But Jesus, as they respond, they say 'Well Moses said, 'You could divorce a wife if you gave her a certificate of divorce.' And that is what is written in Deuteronomy 24, but there is some qualifications to that. But Jesus, again, with these guys, he goes right to the heart of the issue. Probably surprises them by even going back before the Law, before Moses' time, right back to Genesis chapter 2. And he says 'This is the perspective with marriage. You guys have a certain understanding, but let's look at marriage from God's perspective. Let's go right back to the garden of Eden. Marriage is a thing that God has instituted himself. Marriage is an idea that God came up with. He designed marriage. He made marriage. It wasn't like this agreement/covenant thing that men and women came up with themselves. Marriage is ordained by God. You need to understand that. It's much more than just a contract. Marriage starts with God, as he says there, he says in verse 9, "What God has joined together, let not man separate." Marriage is a God-thing, that's what he's saying. It isn't a human thing at all. That's something that God has done. It goes beyond this piece of paper that you exchange, but there are vows made before God that God recognizes, and God joins a man and woman together. So he tells the Pharisees that God allowed divorce, but it was not his desire, it was not his will. God allowed it, and he says specifically, he made provision for it due to the hardness of their hearts. I think it's interesting, it says, "Due to the hardness of your hearts." He's talking to people a thousand plus years after the Law. He could have said, you know, 'Due to the hardness of their hearts...' But he says, "God allowed it due to the hardness of your hearts."--spoke right directly to the people in front of him. God has allowed this all along due to the hardness of man's hearts. I wonder today if God is dealing with some of us in the same manner? Are there areas of our lives where we are unwilling to accept God's desire or God's standard, and it's because of hardness of our heart? Ultimately, when we will not accept God's Word and its standard, it's because of the hardness of our heart. We like to make exceptions, because we get into this situation that's difficult and we say 'Man, this is a tough situation, so here's exception, exception, exception...' Or maybe we like to accept a liberal interpretation of God's law. Well, Jesus says to them, 'Moses allowed it because of the hardness of your hearts, because you weren't willing to listen to what God desired and the blessing he wanted to put upon your life, but because you had hard hearts and wouldn't forgive and you wouldn't be gracious, you know, God allowed it, and allowed you to go that road, of course, to receive all that would go with that. Well, are there areas of God's Word today where you have chosen to add exceptions or accept liberal interpretation because you're unwilling to accept God's perfect will on the matter? Are there areas in your life? I think marriage and divorce can be an example of that today in our culture. With the American society where more than half of Americans today, married couples divorce. That's a reality in our culture, and sadly to say, it's a reality in the church today too. Maybe though, it's a different issue in your life. Maybe it's fornication. Maybe, you know, the living together thing becomes an issue, often. We see it in our society, therefore we want to do that, make exceptions for God's law there. We say 'Well, you know we need to live together, because we need to get to know each other a little, and you know, everybody does it, so it's acceptable.' Maybe it's not that, maybe it's the movies you watch, maybe it's an unforgiving heart. God says 'Forgive', and you say, 'Well, this person, you've got to realize what they did to me. I don't need to forgive them, based on what they did to me.' You have exceptions where you're simply choosing not to trust God, but you have your reasons as to why. Well, is there hardness in your heart, that's resulting in you thinking that it's permissible in your situation because of such and such--you're thinking, 'Well, God does not mind, because A, B, C, D, E, F, G...'? Well, God would say otherwise. I would say, yes he does mind, because when God says 'This is my standard, this is my truth', that is his standard, and that is his truth. He doesn't change, he is never-changing. Just because we are in a certain situation that doesn't mean that God is gonna change what is truth. Truth gives life, truth is what we need. Jesus says we arrive at the conclusions that we do when we deviate from his standard because of the evil desires of our heart, ultimately, because of the hardness of our heart in not being willing to accept his standard. You know, God instructed the Israelites, he said, "You shall be Holy, for I the Lord your God am Holy." And that's how he set the standard, he says, 'You shall be Holy for I am Holy.' And then as you read through the Law he begins to practically map out a system for the Israelites to begin to get ahold of a sense of what it means to be Holy, and what it means to be separate, set apart from the world. It goes through all these things and begins to lay all these practical ways at least for them to get a handle on what that means. He says, "You shall be Holy, for I am Holy"--that's the standard. That's the standard. Peter reminds us, the church, in 1 Peter 1:13-17, he says, "Therefore, gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ, as obedient children. Not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance, but as he who has called you is Holy, you also be Holy in all your conduct, because it is written, 'Be Holy for I am Holy', and if you call on the Father who without partiality judges according to each one's work, conduct yourselves upon your stay here in fear." So Peter makes it clear. Same thing he says to the church [as Jesus said to the Pharisees], this is the standard, this is who you serve, this is who you walk with. Be Holy because God is Holy. That's the standard. Be separate, not like the world, not thinking like the world or living like the world. He says "Gird up the loins of your mind." You know, what does that mean "loins of your mind"? You know, we don't really talk like that here as Americans in the 90's. But probably the way to put that into our terminology would be to say "Get with it!"--"Get a handle on what God's will is and where his mind is--get with it and out of the world's mind and get God's mind!" "Gird up the loins of your minds, get that perspective." And then he encourages further, Peter says, "be sober". To be sober is to take a serious look at something, a serious look at the will and the Word and the standard of God. He says 'Look at is seriously, see what God's standard is and what he desires for you. Not in a flippant manner in any way, but with fear, you know, work out your own conduct before God--not fear that he's gonna crush us, but just fear in reverence because he's Holy. Understand that we're no longer to live like the world, Peter says. What is acceptable today in our American culture isn't necessarily acceptable before God. And Peter says 'Be Holy at all your conduct.' He throws in the word "all"--all your conduct, all your thoughts, all your decisions, all your desires, all your choices, seek to live a Holy life, seek to live according to God's standard, not stooping to the world's standards. He says, "In all your conduct"--not just in areas where we think it's convenient...He says "In all your conduct seek to live a Holy life for God."

Well, verse 10, in verses 9-10, you know the disciples hear the remarks of Jesus. We don't have it all here in Mark, but in Matthew they hear this and they're like "Wow, maybe it's better not to get married if this is the deal, you know-- 'What God's joined together let not man separate"? Does God understand my marriage and see my situation? Man, it's better off not to get married then to do that." So when they begin to ask Jesus, as they want to understand, this is hard for them to grab onto. You see Jesus responds, "Whoever divorces his spouse" he says, "and remarries another commits adultery" he says "against their former spouse." That's what he says explicitly, I'm not making up the words, that's what he says--'If a man divorces his wife and marries another he commits adultery against his former wife. If a woman divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery against her former husband.' He states, that to divorce and remarry will result in adultery against the first spouse. And he says, that's God's standard. And that's hard to swallow and accept, at times, considering the situation we find ourselves in. But that is the standard that Jesus very clearly writes and gives us. No doubt when we consider the web that can be cast by sin, man that can be hard to grab onto, because the sin and the lives of others can really get kind of nasty.

I believe today that many today do not like to teach this truth in our present culture because of what goes on in our culture, because a lot of folks are offended if you say simply what God's Word says. And I just want to share with you what his Word says, I'm not going to add anything to it. I think a lot of people get offended today, but God said, "Be Holy as I am Holy." 'Grasp for a moment what I desire and what my standard is. I'm the one who instituted marriage, I'm the one who's designed it, it's nothing that man came up with, I did it, I joined two folks together.' And Jesus says, 'What God has joined together let not man separate.'

Now, we obviously want to be balanced. It's important to realize that this sin that Jesus refers to here is no worse a sin than any other sin. There are some camps that seem to put those who have been divorced or remarried in another little group, you know--this outcast group. Sin is sin, we all here, every one of us are sinners and stand in the grace of God, regardless of what our sin might be. Whether what Jesus is referring to here or another sin, we're all sinners. So it's important to realize that too, and not to put this on a different level. And certainly when we sin and repent, God forgives us of our sin. That's the cross, we're forgiven. He forgives us, and then he cleanses us, and then he continues to bless our life. And also today, in 1999, August 1st, we can't go back in time. So however, wherever you find yourself today, you can't go back in time and undo things. You are here where you are today. So you accept, by the grace of God, where you are at today. But it's important that we understand God's standard and from this point on in our life we seek to live by his standard, and his standard is Holy. He's a Holy God. He says, 'Live a Holy life, for I am Holy.' No doubt today, America is crumbling because families are crumbling. And families are crumbling because we are not adhering to the Word of God. We see the fruit of deviating from God's standard. Just look at our country. No doubt there's much pain in lives of people today, and children especially, because of divorce. You look around and you see it. In the past couple of weeks I've sat with young people or people in their twenties where they're still so hurt and need so much healing because of what took place through a broken and unstable life when they were younger. For sure, and no doubt God's grace can abound in every situation that we ever encounter. As we depart from God's standard we do reap what we sow, but God's standard is Holy. That's his standard.

"If there is adultery." Now what we don't have here, and maybe I haven't noted it, or maybe I have, is in Matthew 19 Jesus included an exception. He says, 'Divorce, you can't divorce, you should not divorce and remarry, but he says, 'with the exception of marital unfaithfulness'--the New King James says, "sexual immorality" and I believe that's the correct translation. When Jesus states this when Matthew writes it down he throws in the exception. There is an exception. And I believe because when the husband and wife are married, that in that sexual union there's a oneness bond, that there is a work that God is doing. We see that in 1 Corinthians. Paul says, 'Don't join yourself with a harlot, you know, you're becoming one with a harlot.' So there's this oneness that takes place in the marriage bed, that God does this beautiful union. So obviously that's been defiled. We have a serious situation. So Jesus says there's an exception. If there's sexual sin against the marriage. Then it's permissible to divorce and I would say that it's permissible to remarry. Although, you don't have to divorce in that situation, because God is a gracious God, and he can work, and I know of folks where God has worked in that situation.

I want to also just note that I do not believe that if you are here today and you are divorced and remarried, that you should divorce again and go back to your former spouse. I've heard teaching where people have taught that. I believe there's a high standard for marriage, but that is certainly not God's will to do that. That's kind of bizarre and Deuteronomy 24 specifically deals with that. It says, 'Don't, if you get divorced and remarry, don't go back to your former spouse.' So if you're married today, just accept the amazing grace of God as we all do in all our lives for all the things we've done, and let the Lord just bless and work. But understand his standard and if we don't accept his standard, it's due to the hardness of our hearts. It's due ultimately to the hardness of our hearts. Also, I want to say that I believe that all things are new in Christ. There's folks here I'm sure that were married and divorced before they ever knew Christ. And how can you adhere to the law of God if you don't even know the law of God? That's foreign to you. So today as a Christian, now all things are new in Christ, the old is gone, the new is come.

I'd also like to say that if you are now a believer and are now married to a non-believer, Scripture says that if your non-believing spouse chooses to depart, then you're permitted to let that spouse go. You're not to hold that person in bondage--if they don't like the Christian thing and you've become a Christian and they can't handle it, and that happens, and they leave, then let them go. [1 Corinthians 7:15.] And I would say, then, if that is permissible, then I would assume it is permissible to remarry. [1 Corinthians 7 is Paul's complete description of what's permissible for the Christian in divorce and remarriage situations. In verses 10 through 11 he totally backs up Jesus' statements in Mark 10 and Matthew 19. But in verses 12-16 the apostle Paul lists one other important exception, which this pastor mentions in passing. I will type out 1 Corinthians 7:10-16 so you can see the complete Word of God in this situation. A non-believer is someone who is not born-again, doesn't have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit within them. There are rare occasions where a spouse may attend church with his or her mate and appear to be a Christian and is not. If this can be determined (Jesus says, "By their fruits you will know them", i.e. the overall fruits of a person's actions is the only real way of determining the presence or absence of the Holy Spirit.) then one isn't bound, as Paul states in 1 Corinthians 7:15.] 1 Corinthians 7:10-16, "To the married I give this command (not I, but the Lord): A wife must not separate from her husband. But if she does, she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled with her husband. And a husband must not divorce his wife.

To the rest I say this (I, not the Lord): If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her. And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.

But if the unbeliever leaves, let him do so. A believing man or woman is not bound in such circumstances; God has called us to live in peace. How do you know, wife, whether you will save you husband? Or how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?"
[That is basically the whole counsel of God on the subject of divorce and remarriage.] But this is God's standard, and it's beautiful, his standard.

I also will note that, I don't believe a wife should remain in a physically abusive situation. I don't believe that's healthy [and that abusive person is proving by his or her actions that he or she really isn't a Christian anyway, if you ask me--and this would fall under 1 Corinthians 7:15.] Some would say 'If he's beating you up, he's beating you up, submit.' Well, you know, I don't agree with that. However, what I believe should follow is separation with some serious counseling for both husband and wife, seeking resolution, and when there's resolution, then bring the two back together. [I don't think that last statement is totally realistic. This is why. Again, personally, I don't believe that a guy who's beating up his wife is an example of a born-again Christian, and that such a case falls under the category of an unbeliever "who is not pleased to dwell" with the believing spouse. Actions speak louder than words, and they say body language makes up 55 percent of everything we say in reality.] A wife doesn't have to sit there and be beat up. So God's standard is God's standard and when we don't accept his standard, it's because of the hardness of our heart. 'Well, I just don't want to do that, because of A, B, C, & D.' And we have to ultimately realize it's because of our own hardness and evil desires. But Jeremiah said in chapter 6, he says, 'Chose the ancient paths, go that way, that's the way of life and peace--God's way, some of the old-fashioned standards are God's way.' Not what we're seeing necessarily in America in the 1990's. Is there hardness in your heart? Have you been struggling with God's will for you're current situation? My encouragement to you, is allow God to soften your heart, as you go soberly to his Word to examine his truth about whatever the situation you're in. And if God then begins to reveal things to you, just repent, man, repentance is beautiful. But may our hearts be what I read in Psalm 143 'Teach me to do your will, Lord, teach me. Teach me to do your will, that I would do your will and live according to your will.' [For a totally fantastic resource on how to build and maintain a happy marriage log onto http://www.mooreonlife.com and order a copy of Dave Moore's eight cassette series titled Love For A Lifetime. It is about $38 but is worth every penny of it. For a sample of what's in that series click on http://www.UNITYINCHRIST.COM/christiangrowth/HisNeeds_HerNeeds.htm and enjoy this article composed of transcripts of two of the eight cassette tape series. Another resource, available at http://www.family.org is Dr. James Dobson's book "LOVE must be TOUGH". It provides sound advice for those who have a spouse threatening to leave the relationship. Let's look at verses 13-16.

Verses 13-16, "Then they brought little children to him that he might touch them. But the disciples rebuked those who brought them. But when Jesus saw it he was greatly displeased and said to them, 'Let the little children come to me and do not forbid them, for such is the kingdom of God. Assuredly I say to you, whoever doesn't receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.' And he took them up in his arms, laid his hands on them and blessed them." You know, we have a hard time accepting God's standard, but it's no doubt as you look at God's Word that God loves us with a tremendous amount of love. You just see especially as we're going through the gospel of Mark, Jesus with the children, man, he just wants to touch them, he just wants to hug them and kiss them and embrace them. In fact, here in this situation, there's folks here bringing children to Jesus, all sorts of ages, as you look at all the gospels, infants even and young children. As they bring them to Jesus the disciples say, 'Hey, you know, he's too busy to bother him with the children, let's deal with the adults here and not waste Jesus' time.' But in verse 14 it really rips Jesus when he sees what's going down as he watches the behavior of the disciples. The Greek suggests that he's indignant, it's a very strong emotion that's going on, as he sees it he really is ripped that they've done that. And he corrects their perspective and says to them, 'Hey, wait a minute! Let these kids come to me. Let them come to me, and do not forbid them. For such is the kingdom of God.'--Just the childlike faith and the innocence and just the beauty of a child, he says, 'I want to hug that child.' You know, as moms and dads here you just want to hold your kids and pick 'em up and even when they're sleeping in the middle of the night you pick them up and just hold them because you love them. And Jesus just loves us, man, he has a perfect will for us, just wants to bless our lives and that's why he says the things that he does in his Word. You know, you read through the Law, God said to the Israelites, 'If you do these things, you know, I'm gonna bless your life, you're going to go into this land that you do not even have really the right to, I'm gonna go in there and give you this land, and I'm gonna bless you and bless you.' But he says, 'If you do not conform to my way, you're gonna reap some hard stuff.' In fact, with the Israelites he says to them, 'I'm gonna vomit you out of the land, I'm gonna punish you, all these plagues are gonna come upon you.' And no doubt God chastises those that he loves, but if we just embrace his way, man, there's blessing. It's a life of peace and joy to walk right in God's way, whatever that might mean. Regardless of what maybe we think today, his way is perfect, no doubt about it. Well, Jesus wants these children to come to him, he says, 'For such is the kingdom of heaven.' And Jesus just holds these kids and loves them. You know, when I read that, there's been some things on my heart. In recent weeks, and I've even talked to some folks about it, and you know you just see his attitude towards children, no doubt as a church our attitude should be the same towards the young people. We should focus in the children's ministry to have the best children's ministry and that the kids just get fed and blessed. But things have been stirring on my heart, and so I've talked to some folks. And it was interesting Thursday morning, you know we have the prayer [meeting] Thursday morning, and after the prayer on Tuesday and Thursdays I just hang out and just kind of journal some. And I was journaling [writing in his prayer-journal] and I looked at my watch and it was 8:15 and I said, 'Ah, our local radio show is on, and here I'm spending time with the Lord and don't know why I did this, but I got up and turned on the radio. And sometimes that can be a real depressing experience for me, that I tune in and listen to the program [to himself speaking]. And the funny thing was, I was already thinking, I was spending time with the Lord and then these thoughts started stirring in my mind, and I started writing them down, and as I was going through the Word certain Scriptures would keep coming my way. And then I listened to myself on the radio, and then on the radio I was referring to the same thing. And I said, you know, 'There's the things that have been going on in my heart.' I'm not going to mention anything, but there's things on my heart. And this was a few weeks back, and I happened to turn myself on and heard myself say the same thing that I was thinking at that moment. It's funny how that works. But there's been this burden on my heart, and I'm gonna very basically share with you a couple things. And obviously as a church God will lead us together. I think of 1 Corinthians. You know Paul said, 'Test the prophets.' You know, if you have a prophecy, share the prophecy, but then test the prophecy. And sometimes when we talk about prophets we think of 'Thus saith the Lord' you know. I've got the robe on, got gray hair, you know, and there's lightning or whatever. I think, really, in the practical sense, in 1 Corinthians, it's just someone sharing with the body of believers, saying, 'Hey, you know, I've got a burden on my heart.' 'I think it is of the Lord,--is it of the Lord?' And Paul says 'test, man, test to see if it's of the Lord.' Well, I have had a burden for the young people, and I see a great need and I have just referred to it a little bit. I referred to it just about the education of our public schools, not only are our kids not hearing about Jesus, they're failing in just what they learn, schools aren't doing enough in teaching them. It's a great opportunity for the church. Well, we have this building, many of you guys know about it. In times past, we've referred to going back and rebuilding this building because it sits right there in front of the town's Senior High School, right there. And a little over a year ago I mentioned to the church, "Let's, you know, we give a week's offering a month to the missions, let's give another whole week's offering toward what we call "Orphans and Widows". Well, the Lord blessed the missions offering with a very specific vision for York [England] and Nice [France] and things, and the Lord has just abundantly blessed that. But this "Orphans and Widows" never really got blessed. And I believe it was because we never really had a vision, except other than to reach out to the needy. And so we stopped it for awhile, and some of you are looking at me "What's he talking about?" You had to be here to hear it all, I guess, and to kind of know what was going on behind the scenes. Well, anyway, I've had a desire, as a church, to begin to just focus finances toward this building, rebuilding it, and use it as a tutoring house, regardless of whether or not the public schools will let us in. You know, I've had an opportunity to tutor one student recently, which one of the public schools knows about. And this student was failing the 7th grade. My last report, I've only done it for a few weeks, and I'm not really doing anything except saying, 'Hey, do you homework'--is that the student was just tested and tested at the 9th grade level. And they've been told if they don't pass summer school they're not going on to 8th grade, but now they say they're doing 9th grade work. And I'm just sitting with this person saying, 'Do your homework, do you homework.' It's not very hard to do. But if we love kids, man, we can help them in their schooling, and of course given them Jesus, man. And the gospel is also meeting a need. Well, a second thing I'd like to do is buy a bus. And you guys are looking at me and going "What is he talking about?" I've been there before, and sometimes I hear ya. Other times it was the Lord. But with a bus we can really impact the young folks in the community, bring them to church, if we have a tutoring house we can bring them there. So these are things stirring through my mind, have been for awhile, and I can't seem to get away from them. So I mentioned it to you. And as I was going through the Word, and my journal on Thursday I then began to look at the text on Mark chapter 10, I'm like 'You know, there's a lot of these truths right here that I keep seeing before my face. Well, it would be neat as a church to focus on the youth and young folks in our community. But also focus on the needy. You know our HQ congregation has a whole ministry focussed on international relief, and they just send relief, and relief, and relief. [The whole body of Christ has a Christian version of C.A.R.E. as well. Log onto http://www.samaritanspurse.org and check it out.] And, man, I heard a lot of stories this week from folks, I wasn't even going to mention my idea here, but people just kept telling me how they've reached out to the homeless, to the needy and well, I'm wondering if it's time for us as a church to get more radical with that.

Verses 17-22, "Now as he was going out on the road one came running, knelt down before him and asked him, 'Good Teacher, what shall I do that I might inherit eternal life?' So Jesus said to him, 'Why do you call me good? No one is good but one, that is God. You know the commandments, do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not bear false witness, do not defraud, honor your father and mother.' And he answered and said to him, 'Teacher, all these things I have kept from my youth.' And Jesus looking at him, loved him and said to him, 'One thing you lack. Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you'll have treasure in heaven, and come take up your cross and follow me.' But he was sad at this word and went away sorrowful for he had great possessions." Here this rich young ruler, Mark throws a neat little perspective on this, because the other gospels refer to this account, but here Mark says this part about "This guy came running, knelt before Jesus", just really eager to be before Jesus and just had a great reverence for Jesus. Well he comes, this young ruler, he's got possessions, he's got authority. You can see from the text he's a very disciplined young man, successful, one who seeks to do good with his life--one who thinks that he has done good with his life. And I think that that becomes the issue here as Jesus begins to speak to him. He addresses Jesus as the Good Teacher. In those verses in which you see, Jesus replies, Jesus says, 'Well, you're saying I'm the Good Teacher, no one is good but one.' He's referring to Psalm 14. 'There's none that's righteous, no not one..." 'Only one is good and that is God, he is the only one that is good.' So Jesus says 'You're calling me Good Teacher', begins to force this issue, 'If I'm really good there's only One I can be, because there is no one that is good, only God', trying to force an understanding of who he really is, he is the Son of God, He is good. Well knowing this man's heart, this man comes to Jesus and says 'What must I do to inherit eternal life?' And Jesus says to him, 'Well, you know the commandments'--and he quotes a number of the commandments all dealing with our relationship with others. He says 'You know the commandments, don't murder, don't steal, don't commit adultery, don't defraud, you know, honor your mom and dad.' He says 'You know those commandments. Obey the commandments and you're going to inherit eternal life.' Well the young man says, 'Well, you know I have obeyed the commandments, but what still do I lack? You know I've been obeying the commandments, I haven't committed adultery, you know my mom and dad think I do pretty well, but know I'm still missing something Jesus.' And Jesus is getting to the heart of the thing, he says, 'Well, OK, you do lack something--one thing you do lack. Go your way, sell whatever you have, and give it to the poor, and gain treasure in heaven.' To which this just shatters the young man, as he's very wealthy, he walks away very sorrowful. We don't know if later he comes around and wrestles through this, or just stays away from the Lord. But the Lord goes for the heart of the issue, because if this rich young ruler really obeyed the Law, the spirit of the Law, then when Jesus said this to him, he would have had no problem with it. When the spirit of the Law is to love the Lord your God with all of your heart, all your mind and all your soul, and then to love your neighbor as yourself, if that truly is my heart, the spirit of my heart--if you say to me, "Hey, if you want to be blessed, give all you have to the poor", I'd be like "Well, you know, I was already thinking about that, you know, I want to do that. You know, these poor people over here, I'd like to give to them. You know, it would be a different heart. Well, this rich young ruler, like so many, has just obeyed the letter, thought they had this religious things going, but missing out on the heart, really the heart of the law. If you obey the heart of the Law, man, you're all set--love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your mind, and all your soul--that's to obey him and that's to love Christ and have Christ as your Lord. Well, sadly, this rich young ruler was really attached to his belongings and he walked away sorrowful. Let's continue.

Verses 23-31, "Then Jesus looked around and said to his disciples 'How hard is it for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God.' And they were astonished at his words, but Jesus answered again and said to them, 'Children, how hard it is for those who trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God. It's easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.' And they were greatly astonished, saying among themselves, 'Who then can be saved?' But Jesus looked at them and said, 'With men it is impossible, but not with God, for with God all things are possible.' And Peter began to say to him, 'See, we have left all and followed you.' So Jesus answered and said, 'Assuredly I say to you, there is no one who has left house, or brothers or sisters of father or mother or wife or children or lands for my sake and the gospel's who should not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands with persecutions and in the age to come eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first.'" Jesus now uses this situation with the rich young ruler to warn about the love of money, the god of Mammon, he begins to warn those around him. He even says 'How hard it is for a rich man to get into the kingdom of heaven.' And according to the disciples perspective, the perspective of the Jew, if you were rich, man, you were under the favor of God--you were just under the fountain of blessing that were pouring out upon you, and if you were rich, it was considered, man, 'God is blessing your life.'--and that can be true. So when Jesus says that it's hard, the disciples are like 'Wait a minute here, aren't they the ones that are really finding favor with God?' And Jesus says again, he says, 'How hard is it for the rich to enter the kingdom of God. It's like taking a camel, I mean, if you can get a camel through an eye of a needle, then you can get a rich man into heaven' is what he says. There's a liberal interpretation which I don't agree with, but there's this gate that gets you into Jerusalem, it's a narrow gate, called the Eye of the Needle. That on the Sabbath all the main gates would be closed in Jerusalem and this little gate would be left open, but in order for a camel to get through this small gate it was required, the camel actually had to stoop down on its knees and really work hard to get through this little gate that was left open on the Sabbath. And the rider would obviously have to crouch down. Some have said, 'Well that's what Jesus referred to, this gate.' But Jesus said that it's not possible with man, so he's not referring to that. He's referring to the little needle you have at home, getting a camel through that little needle. I would say that's just not possible, I can't, you know I look at a big hairy camel, eight feet tall, and I look at a little hole in the needle and I can't do it. And I can't and it's impossible. But God can do a miracle, he can get that "camel" through the eye of that needle. But he warns, he's warning about this love of money, man. The love of money can have such a grip on your heart, so much so, that you can see the way of God, and see yeah, those ancient paths, that's the way to Christ, man, he's the way--and yet not be willing to go down that way because you love your belongings, you love all that goes with it, and you're not willing to forsake that and follow Christ and pick up the cross and to follow him. So Jesus warns about that. What's your heart like? What if Jesus said to you today, "You know, Bob, I want you to, well listen, I got this plan, I want you to sell your house, I want you to quit your job, pack up your pop-up tent and I want you to drive up to Siberia or to drive up to Newfoundland or Labrador and I want you to live there and share the gospel with those folks. Now I want you to trust me to provide." How would you react?--I mean, if God really said that to you? Maybe he's said something like that to you before, and you're not willing to do it, but it shows an issue in your heart. If you really love God, and you love your neighbor as yourself, you're like "Alright Lord, those people in Labrador need Christ. I'm going. You tell me how and tell me when." Kind of like in the bulletin today, you've got Noah there, you know the yard sale, selling everything before he gets on the boat. Get your yard sale going, sell everything and go wherever the Lord has for you to go. So what's your heart like? I find in these passages a guard, a guard against this mentality, this thing that can creep in. You know, we live in one of the most prosperous countries in the world. And it's a grip on so many hearts in America, and even many in the church get gripped by the love of money. And it hinders their service to God. But the way to guard yourself against it is to give. If we give individually, if we give as a church, we guard ourselves against that grip of the love of money. Whatever comes into my life, I determine 'Well, a portion I'm gonna give to the Lord.' 'Or if I get a lot I'm gonna just bless back whatever it is.' I just want to give, I don't necessarily want to build up this big empire. If God blesses me with a nice house, great, a nice car, great, I can go with it, I can go without it--but man, I want to use all I have to the glory of God and to serve others. If you have that heart, then as God blesses you, man, it guards you. Your heart stays soft, you don't get caught up into it. Jesus said to this young guy, he said, 'Sell all and give to the poor and you'll get treasure in heaven.' There's blessing in giving, you store up in eternity, man, you store blessing there. If you hold on and just want to build your own empire, well, you'll live nice now but you'll live a little more meager later in the kingdom of God, compared to others. I mean, meager in the kingdom of God isn't that bad [king David said, 'Let me be a doorkeeper in the kingdom of God, man, just so that I'm there, man. But the Lord gives us a chance to make it so much more if we want to, and David knew that too.]. Well, I see a guard, and I see a guard for this church too. And as I was thinking again on Thursday, I said, 'You know, the church that wants to be a church always stays guarded and focussed on giving. Practically, we're gonna give no matter what, as a church. If you don't do that, then as God blesses--I was reading recently that as God blesses--you know, a pastor that starts a church, when God starts a church through a pastor, starts a Bible study, initially he'll live on a very meager income. But as you watch studies, as churches get blessed and they grow, the pastors salaries go up and up and up and up, and with very large churches, pastors very often have very large salaries. Personally I don't think that's right. I'm not going to judge a man, but you know, Jesus died on a cross, man. I don't see how you can [or should] make a lot of money on that. But that's the mentality, that's the human heart. That will be the heart of this congregation if we do not today determine we are going to be a church that gives. Because if we just give now and we get blessed and then we get focussed 'Wow, this building, man, we got to shell out some money here, and you know, we need to hire 27 people to do this program.' And you know what happens? You just begin to get inward and you begin to become less useful to the Lord. I pray we get radical and we stay radical. I like to guard myself, set up a guard so I cannot go down a certain road. So I was thinking these thoughts, 'As a church, if we set aside this amount we're gonna give to the Lord, percentage wise, offering a week, whatever it is, man, as we grow, we give it. It guards us. [The basic tithe principle--income goes up, giving goes up in proportion. This critical principle was given by God to the Israelites, and some Christian scholars in two commentaries think the right to levy tithes was handed over to the church as a whole by their interpretation of Hebrews 7. See "Principles of Giving".] I like what Jesus says, though, he says, "All things are possible with God." Man, the life of faith is a radical life, man. And all things are possible with God, man, I mean, you can give away 99 % of your income, and see God take 1% and multiply it. That's what happened with Mr. Quaker, you know, Quaker Oats, he decided he was going to give 99% of his income, wasn't basically a peasant. But his name we know about today, he turned out to be a multimillionaire, very wealthy. But he started to give and give and God just started to give it back. That's what Jesus says to his disciples. Peter says 'Hey, well at least we do OK here Jesus. I know we failed a few times, but hey, man, we've left everything, and we're following you.' And Jesus says, 'You know, if you've left everything, for the sake of the gospel, you're not going without, man. God is gonna bless in return.' And he does bless in return, there's no doubt about it. In my little life whenever I've left anything, I can look around and say, 'Lord, you've just blessed me. I can't out-give you no matter how hard I try.' I believe it's true for a church also. [To read a little more about the subject of giving CLICK ON http://www.UNITYINCHRIST.COM/gifts.htm, "Principles of Giving".]

Verses 32-34, "Now they were on the road going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was going before them, and they were amazed, and as they followed they were afraid. Then he took the twelve aside and again began to teach them and tell them the things that would happen to them. 'Behold we're going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of man will be betrayed to the chief priests and to the scribes, and they'll condemn him to death and deliver him to the Gentiles, and they'll spit on him and kill him and the third day he'll rise again.'" You know, if you only knew the love of God for us. How much Christ loves you, how much he's done for you. Here, weeks before he goes to the cross, he's headed to Jerusalem, he knows what's ahead of him, as a man he knows what's ahead of him, as he's walking. He's God, yet he's a man, he knows what's ahead of him...They're still not getting it, you read this in other gospels when he says this again, they're like 'We don't understand.'

Verses 35-45, "Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to him saying, 'Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask.' And he said to them, 'What do you want me to do for you?' They said to him, 'Grant us that we might sit, one on your right hand and the other on your left in your glory.' But Jesus said to them, 'You do not know what you ask. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink and to be baptized with the baptism that I am to be baptized with?' They said to him, 'Yes we are able.' So Jesus said to them, 'You will indeed drink the cup that I drink and with the baptism I am baptized with you will be baptized. To sit on my right hand and on my left is not mine to give. But it is for those for whom it is prepared.'--(in Luke it says "by the Father.")--And when the ten heard it they began to be greatly displeased with James and John. But Jesus called them to himself and said to them, 'You know that those who are considered rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you. But whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever of you who desires to be first shall be slave of all. For even the Son of man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give his life a ransom for many.'" James and John, you take Matthew and the other gospels, they come with their mom. And the question that you read there, 'Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask'--that question was probably asked by their mom, they asked it through their mom. Maybe they're a little fearful about asking, but if you read the other gospels, the mom comes on their behalf to ask the question. So they do ask the question, but via their mom, evidently. But maybe they repeat the question. But they say, 'Hey, do this thing for us'--'Alright, what do you want?' 'We want to sit next to you in your kingdom.' See they've got the Messianic kingdom in mind, 'We want the authority, we want the blessing, we've forsaken all to follow you, but we want to sit there right next to you, man, have everything else below us and around us.' And he says, 'Well, you don't know what you're asking for. There's a cost that goes with those positions, are you willing to drink the cup that I drink?--and are you gonna be baptized with the baptism I'm baptized with?' They're like, 'Yeah, we'll do whatever!' Still not getting it across, he says, 'You know,' even though they don't understand--'You are.' Of course James was martyred, John was boiled in oil, survived it, then later exiled to Patmos and he lived there and maybe later he was executed, but they certainly endured a pretty heavy cup and baptism. The cup, Jesus in the garden said, 'Take this cup [from me]', referring to the cross. And a number of times, even in the New Testament, even in Jesus' Word we have him referring to the cross as a baptism. That's why we do the baptism, to be baptized in Christ and raised to life, identifying with that. So he's referring to the cross. Well they want this preferential treatment, they don't understand what they're asking for. He does say, 'The seat on my right and the one on my left is, has ultimately been ordained by my Father, I'm not going to give you who that is.' Well, the other ten, you know, now they're displeased by that. 'What are you doing, James and John, asking him something like that? Now, hey, you think you're better than we are or something?' And Jesus uses that opportunity, he says, 'You know, you're not getting it. It's not this lording, it's not this position above others, the gospel, the kingdom is being a slave, being a servant. You want to be great man, just lay your life down. I'm coming to go to the cross to give my life as a ransom for many. And if you want to therefore be exalted to any degree like that, like I'm going to be, lay your life down, man, serve, be a slave for others.' That's what the kingdom is all about. And again, in reading this, man, I'd tell you and I in this congregation, be slaves to the community we live in, just slaves, servants, willing to do whatever, Jesus says--give all our belongings, give all we got, give our time--whatever Jesus says to us to do, because we love our neighbor as ourselves, and we love God with all of our heart and all of our mind and all of our soul. Let's finish the chapter.

Verses 46-52, "Now they came to Jerecho. As he went up out of Jerecho with his disciples, together with a large crowd, blind Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, sat by the road begging. And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth he began to cry out and say, 'Jesus son of David, have mercy on me!'"--You look at the other gospel accounts, there's another blind guy with Bartimaeus. Matthew doesn't say Bartimaeus, it says there's two blind men that came to Jesus. And one of them must be less predominant. Bartimaeus is the main guy of the two. But there's two, there's another guy with Bartimaeus that cries out to Jesus. Well, those around--verse 48--"many warn him to be quiet, but he cried out all the more, 'Son of David, have mercy on me.' So Jesus stood still and commanded him to be called. Then they called the blind man, saying to him, 'Be of good cheer, rise, he is calling you.' Throwing aside his garment, he arose and came to Jesus." Luke says he jumped up in excitement. "So Jesus answered and said to him, 'What do you want me to do for you?' The blind man said to him 'Rabboni, that I might receive my sight.' And Jesus said to him, 'Go your way, your faith has made you well.' And immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus on the road." Just a beautiful picture, people in need, man, it's about people in need--ministering to people in need. I'd rather be the people with the attitude in verse 49 than the people in verse 48--"Hey man, Jesus doesn't have time for you, we don't want to get bothered by you either, we want to talk to Jesus, you be quiet over there." But this guy's going, "Ah Messiah, have mercy on me, Ah, I need your touch." There's people in this community with that cry in their heart even now. And what a beautiful thing, verse 49, to be able to say, "Hey be of good cheer, man, there's Jesus, he's ready to touch your life, to bring healing and to bring hope." Well, blind Bartimaeus gets this wonderful blessing. Standing before Jesus, Jesus says, 'What do you want?' 'I want my sight, I want to regain my sight.' If you understand the Greek, I think one other gospel says it that way. He was seeing before, but evidently has gone blind. Some historians have said as much as 50 percent of the male population in Jesus' time had some type of eye disease, whether they were blind or some other type of disease, it was very prevalent in Jesus' time, eye problems. And here this man says "I want to regain my sight." And Jesus just says, "Well, your faith has made you well." This man knew it was the Messiah. Understood God's Word that the Messiah came to give life and to give light and to give sight. He said, 'Ah, Messiah, Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!' And Jesus said, 'Your faith has made you well.' And Immediately his sight came back to him.'