Read: Mark 9:14 -10:31
Even though Peter correctly identified Jesus as the Christ, it quickly becomes clear that the disciples have much to learn. It is almost frightening to see their failures and misunderstandings. One wonders, however, what the disciples might think if they could see our lives today!
- A Powerful Demon (Mark 9:14-32) In this story, a boy is suffering from demonic harassment. What might the boy have done to have allowed Satan access to his life? Is it possible that harassment may occur even if someone does not explicitly choose to open themselves to the demonic? Can a person suffer harassment because of the choices of their parents?Jesus says, “Everything is possible for him who believes.” Is this really true? How is this different from saying, “If I believe it will happen, it will happen”? Notice the way the boy’s father responds to Jesus: “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief.” How can one believe and yet have unbelief at the same time?We may read 9:49 as a criticism of the disciples. In what ways does it apply to our own lives?
- Jesus and Divorce (Mark 10:1-12) Certainly, this emotionally charged topic cannot be fully treated in this context. There are, however, several background factors which should be kept in mind.
- Jesus is asked this question while he is within Herod’s jurisdiction. This is the same Herod whose wife, Herodias, asked for and received John the Baptist’s head because of his outspokenness regarding Herod’s divorce and remarriage. In light of this, it seems that this “question” by the Pharisees is more of an attempted murder rather than a mere question.
- At that time, the question of divorce and remarriage was a matter of heated debate between the two rabbinic schools of Shammai and Hillel. One must be aware of the issues in this debate in order to fully appreciate Jesus’ answer to the Pharisees.
- Marriage in the contemporary West is very different from marriage in Jesus’ day. Direct comparisons should not be made until both contexts are clearly understood.
In the New Testament, there are three main passages which deal with divorce and remarriage: Mt 19:1-9; Mark 10:1-12; and I Cor 7:10-40. Each passage is somewhat distinctive regarding the particulars of divorce and remarriage. Does this suggest that in different times and cultures, the specifics regarding divorce and remarriage may be subject to change?
Jesus makes a distinction between God’s original intent at creation and a law (Deut 24:1) which was written “because your hearts were hard.” What are the implications of this statement? Do God’s expectations change depending on the condition of a person’s heart?
Jesus upholds marriage as a monogamous, permanent relationship between a man and a woman. However, as we look back at men and women of faith in the Bible, we find many situations where this ideal is not met. (We may think of Abraham, Jacob, Rahab, Hannah, and David, for example.) What lessons should we learn from these people? How many of these people could have been church members in good and regular standing in your church?
Where should the church focus its energies–preparing people for marriage, preaching and teaching against divorce, counseling those with marital problems, or ministering to those who have been divorced? Of these four areas, where has the church been the strongest? Where has the church been the weakest?
The focus of this passage in Mark is really remarriage and not divorce itself. Why does Jesus focus his attention on the remarriage issue rather than simply divorce?
- The Rich Man and Salvation (Mark 10:17-31) Jesus now faces what appears to be a genuine question about salvation. Why is Jesus’ answer so shocking to “grace-based” Christians? Does receiving salvation sometimes (or always?) involve doing or obeying something? In this case, the ruler is asked to give all to the poor. In Luke 19, Zacchaeus offers only half of his wealth to the poor. Earlier, in Luke 10, an expert in the law ask the same question about salvation, and Jesus does not mention the need to sell anything! So, do different people need to do different things in order to inherit eternal life? If it is so difficult for the rich to enter the kingdom, who do we so eagerly seek wealth?
- What is a bigger problem in the church today?
- Issues surrounding divorce and remarriage
- Issues surrounding the use of wealth