Monday 28th February 2022

MARK 10

The first part of this chapter contains exactly the same material – with just one exception – that is found in Matthew 19.  Therefore, I will repeat the comments that I made previously…

It’s a funny thing that in First Century Judea the hot topic was ‘Divorce’, when today it is ‘Marriage’!  The Pharisees were engaged in debate about whether a person could legitimately get divorced for just about any reason, or only in the case of sexual immorality by one of the parties.  This was known as the “Any and every reason” debate.  Matthew’s gospel goes into more detail about the theological discussions between the various Jewish factions, but Mark cuts through this for the sake of his gentile audience’s attention span! 

The Pharisees were naturally curious what this influential young rabbi thought – given that he had such influence over the people and seemed to have a hot-line to God!  Partly out of curiosity, and partly to test him and perhaps trip him up, they posed their ‘hot’ question to him in public.  Jesus first pointed them to the Old Testament scriptures – first Moses and the Law.  Then he took them further back to Adam and Eve – defining what true marriage is and going back to first principles and explaining what God had first created it to be.  “It is not good for man to be alone” – the first temporary fault that the Lord had found with his created order; “…so I will make a helper suitable for him”.  Marriage is, first and foremost, God’s best cure for loneliness through lifelong deep companionship and sexual union.  “For this reason, a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flash” – Jesus is quoting Genesis Chapter Two and affirming that this is all about marriage.

The other topical point is the context in which Jesus was speaking: “At the beginning, the Creator made them male and female… and said ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother…’” etc etc.  So marriage was designed for this unique covenant of companionship between a man and a woman, and was never intended to be a same-sex relationship of the so-called ‘gay marriage’ genre.    

In the ‘Divorce’ debate, he sided with the stricter interpretation, of ‘only on the grounds of sexual sin’.  It is interesting that this ‘exception’ is omitted from Mark’s gospel and from Luke’s.  It is most likely that – given that these two gospels were mainly targeted at non-Jews – it would be taken as obvious that adultery was suitable grounds for divorce – and would not need stating.  One more exception was introduced by the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 7, which was that re-marriage is permitted after a divorce occasioned by the desertion of your previous spouse, against your will.

Three times in the last three chapters (8:31; 9:30 and now 10:32), Jesus has spoken to his disciples and has predicted his death and resurrection.  Three times, it causes consternation in the minds of these disciples – and they get into squabbles.  First Peter rebukes Jesus, in the next chapter they debate who is the greatest, and in the third chapter (today) they ask for special privileges in the Kingdom.  Jesus’ responses are respectively: ‘Take up your cross’, ‘The first shall be last’, and ‘Whoever wants to be first must be slave of all’.

LEVITICUS 4 and 5 (1-10)

Sin Offerings were to deal with unintentional sins, committed by various classes of person.  This offering was, in those circumstances, compulsory; it had to be without defect too.  Christ himself is represented in the sin offering, as the scriptures look forward to a New Testament fulfilment.  The bull was presented (= substitution), hands laid on its head (= identification) and it was then slaughtered (= death of the substitute).  One type of sin offering was only made on the Day of Atonement and its blood was sprinkled on the Atonement Cover of the Ark, within the Holy of Holies once a year; its flesh was never eaten but burnt outside the camp.  The other type was for a leader or private individual, and the blood was sprinkled on the bronze altar outside the Tabernacle; the fat was burnt up, but the flesh could be eaten by the priest and his male relatives.  Forgiveness was then made by God for that person’s sins.

Guilt Offering – very similar to the sin offering, but was offered where restitution for the sin was possible and necessary – e.g. in cases of theft or cheating.  A ram was always the animal of choice in this case.

Conclusion:  God is very particular about how he is to be approached and worshiped.  Today, we do not have these complex regulations to enable us to cross over into his presence, but perhaps we are too extreme the other way: we saunter into the presence of the Lord, not acknowledging him and ignoring his holiness and majesty.  In which case, don’t complain if he ignores you from time to time!  Let’s have a good look at Hebrews 10:19-22, which provides a New Covenant view of the situation.

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