Jesus is beginning a round of teachings associated with family life, and then we will see Him instruct the Disciples about His Death & Resurrection. This is a multi-account story-line, and can be read in the few Synoptic Gospels. We are reading in Mark 10:1-45; Matthew 19-20:28; Luke 18:15-34. You will only find the teachings about Divorce and Marriage in the Matthew and Mark Scriptures just noted; just in case you decide to read one or all of the accounts for this blog post.
Jesus left Galilee at the beginning of this journey, crossed the Jordan into Perea, probably in the company of many Jews from Galilee (who regularly went this way to Jerusalem), and will now soon cross the river and reach Jericho.
Jesus teaches on Divorce and Marriage
The Pharisees tried to trap Jesus in more errors, and asked Him about divorce. There are different viewpoints among the Jews that caused arguments. Jesus referred them back to His original standard, which was that a man and woman live together, independent of their parents, in a permanent union.
Moses placed out laws to limit divorce, and introduce order to the disorderly community; therefore, he permitted divorce not because of approving it, but because people created problems through their disobedience. Under usual circumstances, divorce is to be highly avoided; however, in the case of adultery, an exception can be made.
The Disciples thought that if a man was bound to his wife in that way, it would be better not to marry; however, Jesus replied that marriage was normal for adult life, but not a necessity for everyone. Some people may choose not to marry, probably because of troubles in their life or that they would like to serve God without hindrances caused by family responsibilities.
Jesus shortly speaks about the little children
Many people had thought that they could gain entrance into the Kingdom of God by their own efforts; however, Jesus referred to the children gathered around Him to illustrate that this was not so (that they could be let in by their own efforts). People had to realize that they were to be as helpless and dependent as children were, and that there is no room for those who are haughty of themselves, or those who think they could gain Eternal Life through good works and wisdom.
“The Perils of Riches” and “The Parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard”
A wealthy young man came to Jesus and asked what special things could grant him eternal life, such as good deeds. Jesus replied that there was no need to ask Him, because God told him in the Ten Commandments what he should do. The man boasted he kept most of the commandments; however, Jesus said that he failed in the last of them that says “Do not covet.”
While people around him were suffering, and were in hunger or poverty, he was busy building wealth. His desire for comfort and prosperity kept him from giving himself unto God, which prevented his receiving Eternal Life. If he truly wanted Eternal Life, he would have to get rid of things in the way.
Wealth causes people to become independent of others, which is why the rich find it difficult to acknowledge that they are not independent of God. Such people’s wealth makes them no better than anyone else in God’s Sight, and because of this, few rich people enter the Kingdom of God. No one at all could enter His Kingdom without His Help. By grace, He accepts those who humble themselves before Him.
Those that sacrifice for Jesus will find that they receive a great reward in eternity that is so much greater than anything lost in the present world. They might have to sacrifice wealth, status, family, friends, or other things; however, in the Age coming, they will reign with Christ.
Jesus then told of the story of workers in the vineyard. He was not setting rules for wages or employment, but He was illustrating God’s Grace, as He takes pity on the needy world and generously gives Salvation to all who accept His offer. For example, at the beginning of the day, a landowner hired people to work at his vineyard for agreed wages, to which at several times during the day he hired additional workers, and then paid them at the end of the day.
Those that had worked all day found that the landowner paid the same amount to latecomers as he paid to the ones that began early, to which they complained. The landowner reminded them that he paid them the amount they agreed to, and if he paid the others the same, that was his concern, not theirs. The issue was not injustice in the landowner, but because of jealousy of the other workers.
He notes the blessings of the Kingdom are the same for all who enter, whether Jews who worshiped God for many years, or Gentiles who just were saved from heathenism, or Scribes that studied God’s Law for many years, or tax collectors who just repented, or those who served God for a lifetime, or those converted in old age, etc. Those that didn’t think they were worthy would be included, but those who think they should be included because they thought they were so righteous will be excluded.
What does Jesus want you to know? Those that are wealthy have a harder time recognizing the value of the Kingdom of God, but if they humble themselves before God and be helpful to others, they will be included.
Jesus Foretells His Death and Resurrection
As Jesus went toward Jerusalem, He foretold His death and Resurrection again, but His Disciples misunderstood again. They were still thinking of the Earthly Kingdom. James and John came to Jesus to request high positions in His Kingdom. Instead of answering them, He uses the words, “cup” and “baptism” to show them symbols of His suffering and death. He showed them that He had to suffer and died before He could enjoy the Triumph and Glory of His Kingdom.
Still misunderstanding Him, they stated they were prepared to suffer with Him, but Jesus said they would suffer for His Sake indeed (just not with Him necessarily physically). He said their position in the Kingdom was dependent on the Father alone, for He showed no favoritism. James and John probably thought of Peter, but all the other Disciples were angry when they discovered what they were asking.
Nonetheless, people in the world compete with one another for power, but in the Kingdom of God, true greatness comes from humble, willing service, to which the perfect example is Jesus Himself who was about to lay down His Life so that people in bondage to sin could be freed.