While reading through Mark 10 this past week, I was struck by the number of people in this chapter who, while heading in one direction, stopped to question Jesus. Were their actions ones He would approve? And, what advice did He have to offer to their situation?
Isn't that what being a disciple of Christ is really about? Coming to Jesus, when we are headed in the direction we think is best, and seeing what He thinks about where we are headed? For those then who are determined to live by what Jesus teaches them in their life and who are willing to change course when He reveals something new or even contradictory to what is currently happening in ones life, the walk of discipleship continues down the path the Lord sets each step of the way. But to those who find His teachings too hard, must then chose to walk away from Him and from being one of His own.
I thought I would walk through, step by step the four scenarios in Mark 10. Each of these stories offer differing perspectives on how people chose or don't chose to follow Jesus – from each of these lessons there is something to learn and something to consider in our own lives. So, let's begin:
Part 1: Mark10:1–16 The Pharisees Question the Law
In this first part of Mark 10, the Pharisees ask Jesus about the lawfulness of divorce. Jesus quickly answers their question by revealing an interestingly pointed answer, showing them the hardness of their hearts. He contradicts their strict law and points instead to a child, one they should seek to be more like in their faith if they desire it to be true while at the same time realize it is the hardness of their hearts that makes them legalistic in their religion.
Part 2: Mark 10:17–31 The Rich Young Ruler
Then Jesus is questioned by the rich young ruler about how he can achieve eternal life. Again, Jesus does not tell this young man what he can do more of to earn his place in heaven, but rather what less he can live without. Here is this young man who has everything money can buy to help him achieve status, ease, and simplicity in his life, and yet there is no room for trusting God when each care in life can be met through financial means. Jesus again, like in His answer to the Pharisees, does not ask this man to do more, but to give away this safety net and live by just trusting in God.
Part 3: Mark 10:32–45 The Price of Discipleship and the Unknown Reward
Then we come to James and John, who make a bold request of the Lord that they some day sit as His right and left side in the kingdom of God. Jesus realizes these men love Him very much, and that in the future they will suffer for His namesake, each to the point of death, but He is quick to point out to them they are barking up the wrong tree. It is not the prize at the end they should be seeking, but rather the daily walk that will step by step get them to eternal glory.
Part 4: Mark 10:46–52 A Request for Mercy
Finally there is the story of blind Bartimaeus, who yelled out to Jesus by the side of the road for the Lord to have mercy on Him. Bartimaeus calls out to Jesus, not even knowing if Jesus will respond to his request but calls out anyway in the hope he will be heard. Bartimaeus has no law by which his faith is formed, no money in which to trust in, no hope of glory in the future. No, Bartimaeus only wants Jesus to show some kind of mercy towards him. To his request, Jesus calls Bartimaeus to come. And come he does, even forsaking the cloak he had on him so that he could come even quicker. Bartimaeus does not look back, nor does he hold anything more dear than Jesus who stands in front of him. To his immediate response, Jesus tells Bartimaeus his faith has not only brought mercy upon him from God but has also healed him.
In reading through all of these stories, I was stuck that each person/group of people came to Jesus with a need. Yet, not all were willing to accept the answer Jesus gave to them in truth. How often I seek Jesus to answer my questions, but at the same time come to Him with a heart that may be willing to hear the answer, but at the same time unwilling to enact the truth contained within that answer. How hard my heart can be at times when the truth hits me in the face and I want to say with the Pharisees, “But the law HERE says...”
Other times, my greed and need to stay in control of my life often pull me in the direction of not following through with getting rid of things in my life that I know are dragging me further away from my Lord instead of into a closer relationship with Him. So, just like the young ruler, I at times turn away from what Jesus is asking me to give up because I find security in these earthly things, I know that I can shelter my peace through means I can control, and I know that I can distance myself from heartache and pain if I set my own path instead of following His. But then again, my heart cannot bear the distance too long and I always come running back asking for His forgiveness and mercy.
And also, I know my pride likes to say, “I am tough enough to handle all that you send my way Jesus because I want eternal rewards and I want it all in the kingdom that is yet to come”, but then in the midst of those difficult times and trying times the Lord sends me into, I often falter and prove to be less of a shinning example of my Lord and Savior to the watching world. Living out a life that takes up a cross and follows Jesus is hard, and the Lord has shown me through many tough times just how weak I really am. Only clinging to Him can I make it through those circumstances and yet in doing so I realize that it is not the eternal rewards my heart really desires, but it is an unbreakable bond with Jesus I want more and more as I grow closer in my relationship to Him.
Finally, I know that I am blemished and imperfect – definitely in need of lots of healing. I see the truth of how I can be like all of the above people who questioned Jesus with unwillingness or impure intentions. I cry out to the Lord to have mercy on me. But am I always willing to run to Him when He calls and throw aside all that may hinder my run towards Him? No, I have to admit I am not always that willing. But, as I grow closer to the Lord and through each situation He leads me through I peel away the layers of rules I live by, the luxuries I use to guard myself, and the pride that creeps in and wants to bring glory to itself instead of the Lord. In turn I find that I can act more like Bartimaeus and less like the rest of those who questioned Jesus in Mark 10.
May what I have had to say stir some questions inside of you as to what you are asking of Jesus and how you are responding to what He is calling you to do. I will be taking a break from my computer for a couple of weeks to spend some much needed time with my family. Blessings to you all who are consistent in checking in on my blog. I look forward to coming back on-line refreshed and ready for all the Lord has in store for me and for this journey we are sharing together to bring Him glory with everything we are called to do in our lives.