Jesus teaches what it means to be His disciple. The call for us is not to live like the world – simply for wealth, power, and success. The call is to know Jesus and to serve. When we commit to follow Jesus, then our lives should change. Healing comes in Jesus. Hope comes in Jesus. Life comes in Jesus. Live in Jesus this week and bring Him into your marriage, money, and ministry. Experience the spiritual sight and follow Him, as His disciple, with your life.
Relationships Over Religion
Have you ever heard someone say that Christianity is a relationship, not a religion? Many of the people Jesus came into contact with during His earthly ministry were very religious, but those same people misunderstood Jesus’ teaching time and time again.
Take, for example, the story of Mark 10:2-12. The Pharisees, who are the religious elite of their day, came to Jesus intending to trap Him. They asked Him if it is lawful for a man to divorce his wife. Recently, John the Baptist had spoken out against Herod Antipas, who had divorced his own wife to marry his brother’s wife. Because it was technically within the law for Herod to divorce his wife, the Pharisees held that the divorce was acceptable. They tested Jesus, thinking he would contradict the teaching of the Law, so that they could finally pronounce Him unrighteous.
But, as Jesus often did, He did not respond with an answer, but another question.
“What did Moses command you?” he replied. They said, “Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce and send her away. It was because your hearts were hard that Moses wrote you this law,” Jesus replied. “But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female. For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” – Mark 10:3-9
The Mosaic Law handed down to the people of Israel was not meant to be regarded above the intention of the One who gave the law — God. It was a set of guidelines that prescribed right living, but strict adherence to the rules without a love of the God who made them missed the point. After all, no man, with his sinful nature, could live up to those laws perfectly to begin with! The Pharisees had begun to live to the letter of the Law, rather than to the intent of the Creator. Because of this, they considered themselves righteous for permitting a divorce which technically broke no rule but failed to be of a spirit in love with God and neighbor.
God never desires for a marriage to be broken apart. But, because humans are sinful, He gave us a way to appropriately handle situations when a marriage must end. For the protection of those who are abused by their spouse, be it physically or through adultery, divorce enables people to escape dangerous situations when their spouse has already chosen, through their actions, to separate.
Striving to live a Godly life is a good thing. But, believing you can do it without God is a recipe for disaster! Remember, God’s people were never intended to serve the law, they were intended to serve God and His people. It is good to have reverence for what God has made, but to hold what He has created higher than Him is idolatry.
There is hope for those who are divorced to find joy and purpose in future relationships! God forgives all who ask for forgiveness in the name of Jesus, and He loves us unconditionally.
The Rich Young Ruler
Starting at Mark 10:17, a man falls before Jesus, addressing Him as a “good teacher,” and asking Him what he must do to inherit eternal life.
Picture a man who seems to have every figured out. He is wealthy, he is well-esteemed among men, and he is of good health. And yet, he has realized that there is something which he lacks! And he comes before Jesus to find out what else he needs to do.
Jesus identifies some problems from the start. “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone.” The man had a chance to respond, proclaiming his belief that Jesus is not just a good moral teacher, but indeed God with us. But he did not, and Jesus continued by listing off the Commandments. The man interjected, saying he had kept them all.
Of course, we know that must not have been true. Although the man may not have recognized outward sin in himself, he may not have been aware of Jesus’ teachings that lusting in one’s heart, or holding a grudge against a brother, also reveal sin conditions. One can picture a man puffed up with pride. And yet, Jesus loved him! Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” (Mark 10:21)
Jesus knows what we harbor in our hearts, and in this case, He saw that this man held tightly to his earthly possessions. The man went away sad, unwilling to give up the things and stuff which he had made god of his life. We are all like this man; there is something we are all reluctant to give up. We say, God, you can have all this, but I need to keep that. But there is Good News for us, even as we fail.
Can we be righteous enough to save ourselves? No. But as Jesus says to His disciples, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.” (Mark 10:27)