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May 14 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

Meditations In Mark – chapter 10 05/14/2023



Welcome and Prayer: Nancy Lopez

Good morning and welcome to our RefleXion Community!    The Lord is with you.

When we were young, we all memorized spelling words and multiplication tables, didn’t we?  And before we took our test, our mom or our teacher would ask, “Do you know them by heart?”  and we’d say something like, “Yes, we’ve memorized them, backwards and forwards, practiced many times; we know them by heart.”  I wonder why we use that phrase:  knowing it by heart; because we aren’t using our heart at all, are we?  But that’s what we say.

Oh, and Happy Mother’s Day!  Mothers know things by heart, for sure.  Mothering is not all about studying the rules or reading about someone else’s experience, but it’s your lived experience:  your love, your heart that makes you a mother.  If you delivered a child, raised a child, lost a child; if you’ve nurtured, supported, tutored, listened to, bandaged, coached, or otherwise made a place for a child, we celebrate your heart today—the heart of a Mother.

As we make time to listen to our own hearts and to the heart of the Beloved, we will know our God by heart, not just from a book or from what others say, but from our own lived experience, a heart-knowing.  That is knowing by heart.    It is a love relationship after all. From the Song of Songs:  I am my Beloved’s and my Beloved is mine.

Join me in prayer, will you?

God, may the words of our mouths and the meditations of our hearts be pleasing to You.  Try our hearts and see what they need.  Have our hearts grown dull? Revive them.  Have they grown hard?  Soften them.  Mother us:  lead, strengthen, and heal us.  Let us hear Your words and take them to heart.  All this we pray that we may know You by heart and tell others our stories, tell them by heart.  Amen

Morning Talk: chuck smith, jr.

And he left there and went to the region of Judea and beyond the Jordan, and crowds gathered to him again. And again, as was his custom, he taught them. Mark 10:1

Intro: When Nicodemus visited Jesus, his first words were,
Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God

Nicodemus was correct — Jesus is a teacher
– Mark tells us teaching people Jesus’ “custom” – his usual response when people showed up
• that is what we witness as we watch Jesus move through this chapter
• Jesus never ran out of things to say
◦ and every word he spoke was enlightenment
– one of his teaching techniques was that he allowed people to ask questions
• and when they did, he typically answered their questions with a question
◦ what do they know–or think they know?
◦ this would give him the opportunity to reveal God’s higher thoughts

Jesus was asked a question about divorce (vv. 2-12)

Those asking were not disciples and the question was not sincere
the Pharisees came up and in order to test him asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?”
– Jesus had to answer carefully — they had set a trap
My meditation:
“To me, it looks like Jesus played a trick on them, that he primed them. He planted a thought to influence their response. He asked, ‘What did Moses command you?’ That question suggests that the answer would be found in the law and its commandments. So their response was predictable–they referred to a well known passage in Deuteronomy 24. Did Jesus lead them there intentionally? He could have asked, ‘What did Moses say?’ or ‘What do the Scriptures say?’ but he specified Moses and command.
Jesus was ready for their answer. With surprising authority, he explained why Moses wrote that commandment–it was a concession because of their ‘hardness of heart.’ Then Jesus offered another quotation that predates Moses and the law. From ‘the beginning of creation,’ before Moses, before the law, before sin and hard hearts. This was a critical theme in Jesus’ teaching; namely, the significant difference between how they practiced the law and how he interpreted it (cf. Mt. 5). His concern was not the letter of the law, but the spirit of the law.”
– every marriage has challenges
• many are imperfect, but tolerable–or tolerable until someone else enters the picture
◦ then a spouse may stop trying (to connect, to renew the flame, to work on intimacy skills)
• there are several legitimate reasons to divorce,
◦ but to divorce to be with someone else is not one of them

“Hardness of heart” has been a theme since chapter 6
– it is an unwillingness to change or be changed
• hardness of heart is more common than I would like to admit
• Jesus’ mission was to expose our hard hearts and enlist our cooperation to change them

The Pharisees backed off, and parents arrived with their children

I’m always impressed with the ease in which Jesus received children
– small children make some people nervous – not Jesus
• he’s at home with them and they feel at home with him
– we won’t linger over this story, but only look at two items:
• first, the disciples “rebuked” the parents – remember that
• second, note what Jesus said regarding children and the kingdom of God

The next story takes up the most space in chapter
(Please read verses 17-27)

The question the rich man asked was, “What must I do?”
– but in this context, it is obviously not about “doing”
• the question is, What are you willing to become? To be?
Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven (Mt. 18:3)
– it turns out that “eternal life” and “the kingdom of God” are interchangeable
• this section begins and ends with “eternal life” (vv. 17 & 30)
◦ but in the center, Jesus switches to the “kingdom of God” (vv. 23-25)
• “the kingdom of God” is a domain, a spiritual dimension
◦ “eternal” is the nature of life in that dimension

There are lots of pieces of this story that have been my meditation over the years
– so what I will do is sort them by theme
Love V. 21, “‘Jesus, looking at him, loved him.’ When Jesus looked–at someone or something, he saw much more that his disciples could see (e.g., Mk. 8:19-21). What Jesus sees penetrates the surface, the appearance, the obvious. He sees the deep things of the soul–the true and the false, the good and the bad, the strength and the weakness. So when Jesus looks at people, he is often moved by compassion and concern. He looks and he loves.”
Discouragement V. 22 “I do not believe that Jesus wants anyone to be “disheartened” by his words. If Jesus caused the rich man pain, it was not for lack of love. Many times, being disheartened may be our initial reaction to what Jesus requires, but if we surrender, the moment will quickly pass. Following Jesus will eventually bring us to encouragement, peace, and joy.
Nevertheless, Jesus will not compromise the necessary conditions for entering the kingdom of God to avoid breaking someone’s heart. If he will have a follower, it will be forever, and his relationship with his followers will be forged in truth, devotion, and love.”
Contrast V. 23, “The contrast of wealthy adults who cannot buy or squeeze their way into the kingdom of God versus children who twirl, skip, and chase butterflies into the kingdom of God. It simply belongs to them. Their belief in Jesus comes to them naturally. ‘How difficult,’ Jesus said. Easy for children, difficult (in fact impossible) for the rich.”
Looking (again) “When the rich man walked away, ‘Jesus looked around,’ perhaps to read the crowd’s reaction. So he explained the dilemma of the wealthy. But that did not comfort them–it made them more anxious. So, again he looked, this time at his disciples and spoke to them with words that sank deep into their hearts until they reached the bedrock of their impossibility. And at that point, he revealed the unlimited possibilities with God.”
Greed “We would like to believe that wealth would not change us, that it would not take over all our thoughts and passion or threaten our relationship with God. Wealth does not make anyone a better person. It is well known that poor people are more generous and give a larger percentages of their income to charities than do the rich and famous. Wealth does not make anyone more patient and loving, nor does it increase anyone’s integrity or other virtues.
Greed may be the biggest problem in the U.S. today–maybe in the world. It is what makes all the other environmental and social problems so difficult to resolve. Greed takes possession of people. It drives them with an insatiable hunger. It makes them less sensitive to others and causes them to become spiritually blind.
I cannot help but wonder about the wealthiest Christian ministers, pastors, and evangelists in our nation. Do they disregard what Jesus taught? Do they think they’re immune? Do they realize that they cannot enter God’s kingdom without great difficulty? Or do they assume living in wealth is for them the kingdom of God?”
Hardship V. 30, “Whatever asset a Christian has in this life, whether monetary, status, or relationships, it will come with hardship. God does not mean for us to be too comfortable, too successful, too content in the world. He does not want us clinging so tightly to this life (because we have it so good) that we are not eager to give it up to serve him or come home when he calls.”

Now we come to another brief note regarding Jesus’ destiny
And they were on the road going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking ahead of them. And they were amazed, and those who followed were afraid. Mark 10:32

There’s an eerie feeling to this scene – amazement and fear
– Mark does not bother to explain it
• maybe we’re supposed to realize this moment is beyond us
◦ that walking by himself, Jesus is in his own world
• his thoughts are caught up in the darkness that will swallow him
◦ it becomes obvious that his disciples don’t get it

The last two stories are connected by the same question

“What do you want me to do for you?”
– James and John wanted Jesus to award them with a special honor
“Who will receive the honor of sitting next to Jesus? Not those who enjoy being honored now. Jesus was unassuming, and regarding his personal needs and desires, undemanding. So who is like him in these respects? Who is servant-like? Who drinks from his cup and is baptized with his baptism? Perhaps someone quiet and unassuming person who always is ready to volunteer for all kinds of service to others. Perhaps someone that religious people cannot recognize as being a Christian.”
– a blind beggar wanted Jesus to let him recover his sight
• I asked you to remember the earlier verse when the disciples “rebuked” parents
◦ here the crowd “rebuked” the blind beggar
“The first reaction of some Christians to strangers who enter their circle is rejection. This is especially true if the person is ‘different.’ Driving Addison to school this morning, she told me that last year the eighth-graders maintained their own circle and excluded the seventh-graders. A teacher this week encouraged her class to not repeat that behavior, but include the seventh-graders in their circle. It seemed like good advice for churches that tend to build barriers rather than bridges. Jesus’ mission was not to fulfill God’s purpose for church-goers, but for all people everywhere.
Who gets my attention and who gets ignored?”
• and another contrast (before it was the wealthy man and children,
◦ here I saw it between the wealthy man and the blind beggar
“It was much easier for the beggar to leave everything and follow Jesus than it was for the rich man. In fact, Jesus couldn’t get rid of the beggar. He told him, ‘go your way,’ but he followed Jesus on the road. The kingdom of heaven is the one place where the slave and the impoverished have the advantage.”

Conclusion: Given all that we’ve gone over,

Take your time and think seriously and deeply about these next three sentences

What is the question you want to ask Jesus?
What do you think will be the question he asks you?
If you aren’t sure you’re up for hearing what he has to say,
can you believe that with God all things are possible?

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