Book 2 - THE GOSPEL ACCORDING
With people, places, definitions ...
In 2 Parts
Writer: John Mark, son of Mary of Jerusalem and cousin of Barnabas. Mark accompanied Paul and Barnabas at the start of the First Missionary Journey. He was traditionally a companion and the "interpreter of Peter", and the apostle Peter probably provided Mark with much of the material for this Gospel;
Date: Traditionally the second Gospel to be written; perhaps c AD53-63, the year 53 being the earliest date Mark could have joined Peter in Rome;
Where written: Rome;
Readers: To appeal to the Roman world, and particularly Gentile Christians. The Gospel has few references to Old Testament prophecy, and explains Jewish words and customs;
Why written: To show Jesus Christ is not only the active and powerful Son of God, but also the servant, saviour and redeemer (or ransomer) of sinful man.
According to Some Modern Scholarship: The first Gospel to be written using material provided to John Mark by Peter, but at a later date - perhaps AD65-75. This would have been around the time of the destruction of Jerusalem. It was then used by Matthew and Luke in writing their Gospels.
Part 1 of 2, chapters 1-10
THE BEGINNINGS - FROM THE BIRTH OF JESUS TO THE START OF HIS MINISTRY c 6BC-AD27
(also Luke 1:1-4, John 1:1-5)
Mark 1:1 - The Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God .....
Gospel - Old English for "Good news" or "story". The teaching and revelation of Jesus. Also the record of Jesus' life and teaching in the first four books of the New Testament - the Gospels according to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John;
Jesus - The Greek form of the Hebrew "Joshua" or in full "Jehoshua" - God or Jehovah is salvation, help, deliverance, "the Saviour";
Christ or Messiah - Christ, "the anointed one" in Greek; Messiah, "anointed" in Hebrew. "Christ" was the title given to Jesus of Nazareth as the one who fulfilled Old Testament prophecies about the coming of the Messiah, the promised deliverer of the Jewish people. "Christ" is only used in the New Testament. The Hebrew version of Christ - the "Messiah", or the "anointed one" - is found a number of times in the Old Testament, and occasionally in the New;
Son of God - "God" from the Germanic "guth". "Son of God" is found only in the New Testament as a title for Jesus. It is mainly used by the writers of the Gospels, the Acts of the Apostles, and the Letters themselves. But not by Jesus when referring to himself.
APPEARANCE OF JOHN THE BAPTIST
(also Matthew 3:1-12; Luke 3:1-20; John 1:6-28)
Mark 1:2-8 - ("The Gospel of Jesus Christ" .....) begins with the fulfilment of this prophecy of Isaiah -
'Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way before you' (Malachi 3:1).
'The voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight' (Isaiah 40:3).
For John came and began to baptise men in the desert, proclaiming baptism as the mark of a complete change of heart and of the forgiveness of sins. All the people of the Judean countryside and everyone in Jerusalem went out to him in the desert and received his baptism in the river Jordan, publicly confessing their sins.
John himself was dressed in camel-hair, with a leather belt round his waist, and he lived on locusts and wild honey. The burden of his preaching was, "There is someone coming after me who is stronger than I - indeed I am not good enough to kneel down and undo his shoes. I have baptised you with water, but he will baptise you with the Holy Spirit."
BAPTISM OF JESUS
(also Matthew 3:13-17; Luke 3:21-23a; John 1:29-34)
Mark 1:9-11 - It was in those days (during the ministry of John the Baptist) that Jesus arrived from the Galilean village of Nazareth and was baptised by John in the Jordan. All at once, as he came up out of the water, he saw the heavens split open, and the Spirit coming down upon him like a dove. A voice came out of Heaven, saying, "You are my dearly-beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased!"
JESUS' TEMPTATION BY THE DEVIL
(also Matthew 4:1-11; Luke 4:1-13)
Mark 1:12-13 - Then (after his baptism) the Spirit sent him out at once into the desert, and there he remained for forty days while Satan tempted him. During this time no one was with him but wild animals, and only the angels were there to care for him.
HIS TRAVELS AND ACTS c AD27-30
HOW JESUS STARTS HIS MINISTRY ACCORDING TO MARK
(also Matthew 4:12-17; Luke 4:14-15; John 1:35-36)
Mark 1:14-15 - It was after John (the Baptist's) arrest that Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the Gospel of God, saying, "The time has come at last - the kingdom of God has arrived. You must change your hearts and minds and believe the good news."
THE CALLING OF SIMON PETER, ANDREW, JAMES AND JOHN
(also Matthew 4:18-22; Luke 5:1-11)
Mark 1:16-20 - As he walked along the shore of the Lake of Galilee, he saw two fishermen, Simon and his brother Andrew, casting their nets into the water. "Come and follow me, and I will teach you to catch men!" he cried.
At once they dropped their nets, and followed him.
Then he went a little further along the shore and saw James the son of Zebedee, aboard a boat with his brother John, overhauling their nets. At once he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men, and went off after him.
THE MADMAN IN THE SYNAGOGUE AT CAPERNAUM
(also Luke 4:31-37)
Mark 1:21-28 - They (Simon Peter, Andrew, James and John - the newly called disciples) arrived at Capernaum, and on the Sabbath day (the Saturday) Jesus walked straight into the synagogue and began teaching. They were amazed at his way of teaching, for he taught with the ring of authority - quite unlike the scribes. All at once, a man in the grip of an evil spirit appeared in the synagogue shouting out, "What have you got to do with us, Jesus from Nazareth? Have you come to kill us? I know who you are - you're God's holy one!"
But Jesus cut him short and spoke sharply, "Hold your tongue and get out of him!"
At this the evil spirit convulsed the man, let out a loud scream and left him. Everyone present was so astounded that people kept saying to each other, "What on earth has happened? This new teaching has authority behind it. Why he even gives his orders to evil spirits and they obey him!"
And his reputation spread like wild-fire through the whole Galilean district.
PETER'S MOTHER-IN-LAW'S FEVER: JESUS ALSO HEALS MANY OTHERS THAT EVENING
(also Matthew 8:14-17; Luke 4:38-41)
Mark 1:29-34 - Then (after healing the madman according to Mark's Gospel) he got up and went straight from the synagogue to the house of Simon (Peter) and Andrew, accompanied by James and John. Simon's mother-in-law was in bed with a high fever, and they lost no time in telling Jesus about her. He went up to her, took her hand and helped her to her feet. The fever left her, and she began to see to their needs.
Late that evening, after sunset, they kept bringing to him all who were sick or troubled by evil spirits. The whole population of the town (of Capernaum) gathered round the doorway. And he healed great numbers of people who were suffering from various forms of disease. In many cases he expelled evil spirits; but he would not allow them to say a word, for they knew perfectly well who he was.
JESUS CONTINUES PREACHING AND HEALING
(also Matthew 4:23-25; Luke 4:42-44)
Mark 1:35-39 - Then (after calling the first four disciples and healing Simon Peter's mother-in-law.....), in the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a deserted place, and there he prayed. Simon and his companions went in search of him, and when they found him, they said, "Everyone is looking for you."
"Then we will go somewhere else, to the neighbouring towns," he replied, "so that I may give my message there too - that is why I have come."
So he continued preaching in their synagogues and expelling evil spirits throughout the whole of Galilee.
(also Matthew 8:1-4; Luke 5:12-16)
Mark 1:40-45 - Then a leper came to Jesus (as he continued preaching and healing throughout Galilee), knelt in front of him and appealed to him, "If you want to, you can make me clean."
Jesus was filled with pity for him, and stretched out his hand and placed it on the leper, saying, "Of course I want to - be clean!"
At once the leprosy left him and he was quite clean. Jesus sent him away there and then with the strict injunction, "Mind you say nothing at all to anybody. Go straight off and show yourself to the priest, and make the offerings for your cleansing which Moses prescribed, as public proof of your recovery."
But he went off and began to talk a great deal about it in public, spreading his story far and wide. Consequently, it became impossible for Jesus to show his face in the towns and he had to stay outside in lonely places. Yet the people still came to him from all quarters.
THE PARALYSED MAN
(also Matthew 9:1-8; Luke 5:17-26)
Mark 2:1-12 - When he re-entered Capernaum some days later (after curing the leper, and staying away from the towns because of his popularity), a rumour spread that he was in somebody's house. Such a large crowd collected that while he was giving them his message (of the Gospel) it was impossible even to get near the doorway. Meanwhile, a group of people arrived to see him, bringing with them a paralytic whom four of them were carrying. And when they found it was impossible to get near him because of the crowd, they removed the tiles from the roof over Jesus' head and let down the paralytic's bed through the opening. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the man on the bed, "My son, your sins are forgiven."
But some of the scribes were sitting there silently asking themselves, "Why does this man talk such blasphemy? Who can possibly forgive sins but God?"
Jesus realised instantly what they were thinking, and said to them, "why must you argue like this in your minds? Which do you suppose is easier - to say to a paralysed man, 'Your sins are forgiven', or 'Get up, pick up your bed and walk'? But to prove to you that the Son of Man has full authority to forgive sins on earth, I say to you," - and here he spoke to the paralytic - "Get up, pick up your bed and go home."
At once the man sprang to his feet, picked up his bed and walked off in full view of them all. Everyone was amazed, praised God, and said, "We have never seen anything like this before."
CALLING OF MATTHEW THE TAX COLLECTOR
(also Matthew 9:9-13; Luke 5:27-32)
Mark 2:13-16 - Then Jesus went out (from Capernaum) again by the lake-side (of the Sea of Galilee) and the whole crowd came to him, and he continued to teach them.
As Jesus went on his way, he saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at his desk in the tax office ....
Levi - Otherwise Matthew (Hebrew, Mattathias) according to most commentators. He was possibly a brother of the apostle James, also son of an Alphaeus -
.... and he said to him, "Follow me!"
Levi got up and followed him. Later, when Jesus was sitting at dinner in Levi's house, a large number of tax-collectors and disreputable folk came in and joined him and his disciples. For there were many such people among his followers. When the scribes and Pharisees saw him eating in the company of tax-collectors and outsiders, they remarked to his disciples, "Why does he eat with tax-collectors and sinners?"
JESUS HAS COME TO SAVE THOSE WHO ARE LOST - "THE DOCTOR AND THE SICK"
(also Matthew 9:12-13; Luke 5:31-32)
Mark 2:17 - When Jesus heard this, he said to them, "It is not the fit and flourishing who need the doctor, but those who are ill. I did not come to invite the 'righteous', but the 'sinners'.
THE PRESENCE OF JESUS SHOULD MEAN JOY - "THE WEDDING GUESTS AND THE BRIDEGROOM"
(also Matthew 9:14-15; Luke 5:33-35)
Mark 2:18-20 - The disciples of John and those of the Pharisees were fasting. They came and (as in Matthew) said to Jesus, "Why do those who follow John or the Pharisees keep fasts but your disciples do nothing of the kind?"
Jesus told them, "Can you expect wedding-guest to fast in the bridegroom's presence? Fasting is out of the question as long as they have the bridegroom with them. But the day will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them - that will be the time for them to fast.
THE TEACHING OF JESUS AND THE OLD WAYS CAN NOT BE MIXED - "THE NEW CLOTH SEWN ONTO THE OLD" and "THE NEW WINE POURED INTO OLD WINESKINS"
(also Matthew 9:16-17; Luke 5:36-39)
Mark 2:21-22 - "Nobody," he continued, "sews a patch of unshrunken cloth on to an old coat. If he does, the new patch tears away from the old and the hole is worse than ever. And nobody puts new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the new wine bursts the skins, the wine is spilt and the skins are ruined. No, new wine must go into new wineskins."
THE DISCIPLES PICK CORN ON THE SABBATH - "THE SABBATH IS MADE FOR MAN"
(also Matthew 12:1-8; Luke 6:1-5)
Mark 2:23-28 - One day (after Jesus had called Matthew to be a disciple ....) he happened to be going through the cornfields on the Sabbath day. And his disciples, as they made their way along, began to pick the ears of corn. The Pharisees said to him, "Look at that! Why should they do what is forbidden on the Sabbath day?"
Then he spoke to them.
"Have you never read what David did, when he and his companions were hungry? Haven't you read how he went into the house of God when Abiathar (the son of Ahimelech) was High Priest, and ate the presentation loaves (... according to 1 Samuel, it was Ahimelech who actually gave David the bread), which nobody is allowed to eat, except the priests - and gave some of the bread to his companions? The Sabbath," he continued, "was made for man's sake; man was not made for the sake of the Sabbath. That is why the Son of Man is master even of the Sabbath."
THE MAN WITH THE SHRIVELLED HAND
(also Matthew 12:9-14; Luke 6:6-11)
Mark 3:1-6 - On another occasion (after the cornfield incident) when he went into the synagogue, there was a man there whose hand was shrivelled, and they (the Pharisees) were watching Jesus closely to see whether he would heal him on the Sabbath day, so that they might bring a charge against him. Jesus said to the man with the shrivelled hand, "Stand up and come out here in front!"
Then he said to them, "Is it right to do good on the Sabbath day, or to do harm? Is it right to save life or to kill?"
There was a dead silence. Then Jesus, deeply hurt as he sensed their inhumanity, looked round in anger at the faces surrounding him (in contrast to the "meek and mild" image in which Jesus is often portrayed), and said to the man, "Stretch out your hand!"
And he stretched it out, and the hand was restored as sound as the other one. The Pharisees walked straight out and discussed with Herod's party how they could have Jesus put out of the way.
Herod's party (or Herodians) - A political, not a religious party; supporters of the Herod dynasty. In the time of Jesus' ministry, this included Herod Antipas, tetrarch of Galilee and Perea, and Philip, tetrarch of Iturea and Trachonitis.
JESUS CONTINUES HEALING MANY
(also Matthew 12:15-21; Luke 6:17-19)
Mark 3:7-12 - Jesus now retired to the lake-side (of the Sea of Galilee) with his disciples (again after healing the man with the shrivelled hand). A huge crowd of people followed him, not only from Galilee, but from Judea, Jerusalem and Idumea, some from the district beyond the Jordan and from the neighbourhood of Tyre and Sidon. This vast crowd came to him because they had heard about the sort of things he was doing. So Jesus told his disciples to have a small boat kept in readiness for him, in case the people should crowd him too closely. For he healed so many people that all those who were in pain kept pressing forward to touch him with their hands. Evil spirits, as soon as they saw him, acknowledged his authority and screamed, "You are the Son of God!"
But he warned them repeatedly that they must not make him known.
CHOOSING THE TWELVE APOSTLES
(also Matthew 10:1-4; Luke 6:12-16)
Mark 3:13-19 - Later (sometime after Jesus healed the man with the shrivelled hand, and withdrawn to continue his ministry around the Sea of Galilee) he went up on to the hill-side and summoned the men whom he wanted, and they went up to him. He appointed a band of twelve to be his companions, whom he could send out to preach, with power to drive out evil spirits. These were the twelve he appointed (the numbers represent the order used by Matthew):
1. Peter (which was the new name he gave Simon), 3. James the son of Zebedee, and 4. John his brother (He gave them the name of Boanerges, which meansthe "Thunderers".) 2. Andrew (the brother of Peter), 5. Philip, 6. Bartholomew (or Nathanael), 8. Matthew (or Levi), 7. Thomas, 9. James the son of Alphaeus, 10. Thaddaeus (or Judas, son of James), 11. Simon the Patriot, and 12. Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.
JESUS AND HIS OWN FAMILY - THE INITIAL DIVISIONS BETWEEN THEM
(also Matthew 12:46-50; Mark 3:31-35; Luke 8:19-21)
Mark 3:20-21 - Then (after calling the twelve apostles) he went indoors, but again such a crowd collected that it was impossible for them even to eat a meal. When his relatives heard of this, they set out to take charge of him, for people were saying, "He must be mad!"
JESUS IS ACCUSED OF USING THE POWER OF THE DEVIL TO HEAL
(also Matthew 12:22-32; Luke 11:14-23; 12:8-10)
Mark 3:22-30 - (Jesus has just appointed his twelve apostles; his family hear that people are saying "he must be mad" ......) The scribes who had come down from Jerusalem were saying that he was possessed by Beelzebub, and that he drove out devils because he was in league with the prince of devils. So Jesus called them to him and spoke to them in a parable - "How can Satan be the one who drives out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, it cannot last either. And if Satan leads a rebellion against Satan - his days are certainly numbered. No one can break into a strong man's house and steal his property, without first tying up the strong man hand and foot. But if he did that, he could ransack the whole house.
"Believe me, all men's sins can be forgiven and their blasphemies. But there can never be any forgiveness for blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. That is an eternal sin."
He said this because they were saying, "He is in the power of an evil spirit."
JESUS AND HIS OWN FAMILY - "WHO IS MY MOTHER? WHO ARE MY BROTHERS?"
(also Matthew 12:46-50; Luke 8:19-21)
Mark 3:31-35 - Then his mother and his brothers arrived. They stood outside the house and sent a message asking him to come out to them. There was a crowd sitting round him when the message was brought telling him, "Your mother and your brothers are outside looking for you."
Jesus replied, "And who are really my mother and my brothers?"
And he looked round at the faces of those sitting in a circle about him.
"Look!" he said, "my mother and my brothers are here. Anyone who does the will of God is brother and sister and mother to me."
LISTENING AND RESPONDING TO THE GOSPEL OF JESUS - "SOWING THE SEED"
(also Matthew 13:1-9; Luke 8:4-8)
Mark 4:1-9 - Then once again (as in Matthew) he began to teach them by the lake-side. A bigger crowd than ever collected around him so that he got into the little boat on the lake and sat down, while the crowd covered the ground right up to the water's edge. He taught them a great deal in parables, and in the course of his teaching he said, "Listen! A man once went out to sow his seed and as he sowed, some seed fell by the roadside and the birds came and gobbled it up. Some of the seed fell among the rocks where there was not much soil, and sprang up very quickly because there was no depth of earth. But when the sun rose it was scorched, and because it had no root, it withered away. And some of the seed fell among thorn-bushes and the thorns grew up and choked the life out of it, and it bore no crop. And there was some seed which fell on good soil, and when it grew, produced a crop which yielded thirty or sixty or even a hundred times as much as the seed."
Then he added, "Every man who has ears should use them!"
WHY JESUS SPOKE IN PARABLES
(also Matthew 13:10-17; Luke 8:9-10)
Mark 4:10-12 - Then when they were by themselves (again after Jesus had told the parable about sowing the seed), his close followers and the twelve asked him about the parables, and he told them.
"The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those who do not know the secret, everything remains in parables, so that,
'seeing they may see and not perceive, and hearing they may hear and not understand; lest they should turn, and their sins be forgiven them'" (Isaiah 6:9,10).
LISTENING AND RESPONDING TO THE GOSPEL OF JESUS: "SOWING THE SEED" - Concluded
(also Matthew 13:18-23; Luke 8:11-15)
Mark 4:13-20 - Then he continued, "Do you really not understand this parable? Then how are you going to understand all the other parables? The man who sows, sows the message. As for those who are by the roadside where the message is sown, as soon as they hear it Satan comes at once and takes away what has been sown in their minds. Similarly, the seed sown among the rocks represents those who hear the message without hesitation and accept it joyfully. But they have no real roots and do not last - when trouble or persecution arises because of the message, they give up their faith at once. Then there are the seeds which were sown among thorn-bushes. These are the people who hear the message, but the worries of this world and the false glamour of riches and all sorts of other ambitions creep in and choke the life out of what they have heard, and it produces no crop in their lives. As for the seed sown on good soil, this means the men who hear the message and accept it and do produce a crop - thirty, sixty, even a hundred times as much as they received."
LIVING AS WITNESSES TO JESUS CHRIST - "LIGHT, AND THE LAMP ON THE STAND"
(also Matthew 5:14-16; Luke 8:16-17; 11:33)
Mark 4:21-23 - Then he said to them, "Is a lamp brought into the room to be put under a bucket or underneath the bed? Surely its place is on the lamp-stand! There is nothing hidden which is not meant to be made perfectly plain one day, and there are no secrets which are not meant one day to be common knowledge. If a man has ears he should use them!"
THE PRICE OF CRITICISM AND TREATING OTHERS BADLY - "MEASURE FOR MEASURE"
(also Matthew 7:1-2; Luke 6:37-38; 8:18)
Mark 4:24-25 - "Be careful how you listen," he said to them. "Whatever measure you use will be used towards you, and even more than that. For the man who has something will receive more. As for the man who has nothing, even his nothing will be taken away."
LISTENING AND RESPONDING TO THE GOSPEL OF JESUS: HOW THE SEED OF FAITH GROWS - "THE GROWING SEED"
Mark 4:26-29 - Then (after the "sowing the seed") he said, "The kingdom of God is like a man scattering seed on the ground and then going to bed each night and getting up every morning, while the seed sprouts and grows up, though he has no idea how it happens. The earth produces a crop without any help from anyone: first a blade, then the ear of corn, then the full-grown grain in the ear. And as soon as the crop is ready, he sends his reapers in without delay, for the harvest-time has come."
LISTENING AND RESPONDING TO THE GOSPEL OF JESUS: "THE TINY MUSTARD SEED THAT GROWS INTO A GREAT TREE"
(also Matthew 13:31-32; Luke 13:18-19)
Mark 4:30-32 - Then he continued, "What can we say the kingdom of God is like? How shall we put it in a parable? It is like a tiny grain of mustard-seed which, when it is sown, is smaller than any seed that is ever sown. But after it is sown in the earth, it grows up and becomes bigger than any other plant. It shoots out great branches so that birds can come and nest in its shelter."
WHY JESUS SPOKE IN PARABLES - Concluded
(also Matthew 13:34-35; Luke 8:9-10)
Mark 4:33-34 - So he taught them his message with many parables such as their minds could take in. He did not speak to them at all without using parables, although in private he explained everything to his disciples.
CALMING THE STORM
(also Matthew 8:23-27; Luke 8:22-25)
Mark 4:35-41 - On the evening of that day (after teaching in parables), he said to them, "Let us cross over to the other side of the lake."
So they sent the crowd home and took him with them in the little boat in which he had been sitting, accompanied by other small craft. Then came a violent squall of wind which drove the waves aboard the boat until it was almost swamped. Jesus was in the stern asleep on the cushion. They awoke him with the words, "Master, don't you care that we're drowning?"
And he woke up, rebuked the wind, and said to the waves, "Hush now! Be still!"
The wind dropped and everything was very still.
"Why are you so frightened? What has happened to your faith?! he asked them.
But sheer awe swept over them and they kept saying to each other, "Who ever can he be? - even the wind and the waves do what he tells them!"
THE MADMAN AND THE GADARENE PIGS
(also Matthew 8:28-34; Luke 8:26-39)
Mark 5:1-20 - So they arrived on the other side of the lake in the country of the Gerasenes (again after calming the storm). As Jesus was getting out of the boat, a man in the grip of an evil spirit rushed to meet him from among the tombs where he was living. It was no longer possible for any human being to restrain him even with a chain. Indeed he had frequently been secured with fetters and lengths of chain, but he had simply snapped the chains and broken the fetters in pieces. No one could do anything with him. All through the night as well as in the day-time he screamed among the tombs and on the hill-side, and cut himself with stones. Now, as soon as he saw Jesus in the distance, he ran and knelt before him, yelling at the top of his voice, "What have you got to do with me, Jesus, Son of the most high God? For God's sake, don't torture me!"
For Jesus had already said, "Come out of this man, you evil spirit!"
Then he asked him, "What is your name?"
"My name is legion," he replied, "for there are many of us."
Then he begged and prayed him not to send "them" out of the country.
A large herd of pigs was grazing there on the hill-side, and the evil spirits implored him, "Send us over to the pigs and we'll get into them!"
So Jesus allowed them to do this, and they came out of the man, and made off and went into the pigs. The whole herd of about two thousand stampeded down the cliff into the lake and was drowned. The swineherds took to their heels and spread their story in the city and all over the countryside. Then the people came to see what had happened. As they approached Jesus, they saw the man who had been devil-possessed sitting there properly clothed and perfectly sane - the same man who had been possessed by "legion" - and they were really frightened. Those who had seen the incident told them what had happened to the devil-possessed man and about the disaster to the pigs. Then they began to implore Jesus to leave their district. As he was embarking on the small boat, the man who had been possessed begged that he might go with him. But Jesus would not allow this.
"Go home to your own people," he told him, "And tell them what the Lord has done for you, and how kind he has been to you!"
So the man went off and began to spread throughout the Ten Towns (the federated "Ten Cities" of the Decapolis) the story of what Jesus had done for him. And they were all simply amazed.
THE WOMAN WITH THE HAEMORRHAGE and THE RAISING OF JAIRUS' DAUGHTER
(also Matthew 9:18-26; Luke 8:40-56)
Mark 5:21-43 - When Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side of the lake (after the incident of the madman and the Gadarene swine), a great crowd collected around him as he stood on the shore. Then came a man called Jairus, one of the synagogue presidents. And when he saw Jesus, he knelt before him, pleading desperately for his help.
"My little girl is dying," he said. "Will you come and put your hands on her - then she will get better and live."
Jesus went off with him, followed by large crowds jostling at his elbow. Among them was a woman who had a haemorrhage for twelve years and who had gone through a great deal at the hands of many doctors (or physicians), spending all her money in the process. She had derived no benefit from them but, on the contrary, was getting worse. This woman had heard about Jesus and came up behind him under cover of the crowd, and touched his cloak, "For if I can only touch his clothes," she said, "I shall be all right."
The haemorrhage stopped immediately, and she knew in herself that she was cured of her trouble. At once Jesus knew intuitively that power had gone out of him, and he turned round in the middle of the crowd and said, "Who touched my clothes?"
His disciples replied, "You can see this crowd jostling you. How can you ask, 'Who touched me?'"
But he looked all round at their faces to see who had done so. Then the woman, scared and shaking all over because she knew that she was the one to whom this thing had happened, came and flung herself before him and told him the whole story. But he said to her, "Daughter, it is your faith that has healed you. Go home in peace, and be free from your trouble."
While he was still speaking, messengers arrived from the synagogue president's house, saying, "Your daughter is dead - there is no need to bother the master any further."
But when Jesus heard this, he said, "Now don't be afraid, just go on believing!"
Then he allowed no one to follow him except Peter and James and John, James's brother. ...
- Peter, James and John appear to have become the more "senior" apostles:
... They arrived at the president's house and Jesus noticed the hubbub and all the weeping and wailing, and as he went in, he said to the people in the house, "Why are you making such a noise with your crying? The child is not dead; she is fast asleep."
They greeted this with a scornful laugh. But Jesus turned them all out, and taking only the father and mother and his own companions with him, went into the room where the child was. Then he took the little girl's hand and said to her in Aramaic (the language in general use in Palestine alongside Hebrew), "Little girl, I tell you to get up!"
At once she jumped to her feet and walked around the room, for she was twelve years old. This sight sent the others nearly out their minds with joy. But Jesus gave them strict instructions not to let anyone know what had happened - and ordered food to be given to the little girl.
JESUS IS REJECTED IN NAZARETH FOR THE SECOND TIME
(also Matthew 13:53-58)
Mark 6:1-6a - Then (according to Mark, after Jesus has raised Jairus' daughter) he left that district (Capernaum) and came into his own native town followed by his disciples. When the Sabbath day came, he began to teach in the synagogue. The congregation was astonished and remarked, "Where does he get all this? What is this wisdom that he has been given - and what about these marvellous things that he can do? He's only the carpenter, Mary's son, the brother of James, Joses, Judas and Simon; and his sisters are living here with us!" And they were deeply offended with him. But Jesus said to them, "No prophet goes unhonoured - except in his native town or with his own relations or in his own home!"
And he could do nothing miraculous there apart from laying his hands on a few sick people and healing them; their lack of faith astonished him.
THE TWELVE APOSTLES ARE SENT OUT TO PREACH AND HEAL
(also Matthew 10:5-15; Luke 9:1-6)
Mark 6:6b-13 - Then (after Jesus had raised Jairus' daughter, and again been rejected in his own town of Nazareth) he made his way round the villages, continuing his teaching. He summoned the twelve, and began to send them out in twos, giving them power over evil spirits. He instructed them to take nothing for the road except a staff - no satchel, no bread and no money in their pockets. They were to wear sandals and not to take more than one coat. And he told them, "Wherever you are, when you go into a house, stay there until you leave that place. And wherever people will not welcome you or listen to what you have to say, leave them and shake the dust off your feet as a protest against them!"
So they went out and preached that men should change their whole outlook. They expelled many evil spirits and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them.
DEATH OF JOHN THE BAPTIST
(also Matthew 14:1-12; Luke 9:7-9)
Mark 6:14-29 - "All this (preaching and healing of the twelve apostles) came to the ears of king Herod, for Jesus' reputation was spreading, and people were saying that John the Baptist had risen from the dead, and that was why he was showing such miraculous powers. Others maintained that he was Elijah, and others that he was one of the prophets of the old days come back again. But when Herod heard of all this, he said, "It must be John whom I beheaded, risen from the dead!"
For Herod himself had sent and arrested John and had him bound in prison, all on account of Herodias, wife of his brother Philip. He had married her, though John used to say to Herod, "It is not right for you to possess your own brothers wife." Herodias herself was furious with him for this and wanted to have him executed, but she could not do it, for Herod had a deep respect for John, knowing that he was a just and holy man, and protected him. He used to listen to him and be profoundly disturbed, and yet he enjoyed hearing him.
Then a good opportunity came, for Herod gave a birthday party for his courtiers and army commanders and for the leading people in Galilee. Herodias' daughter came in and danced, to the great delight of Herod and his guests. The king said to the girl, "Ask me anything you like and I will give it to you!" And he swore to her, "I will give you whatever you ask me, up to half of my kingdom!"
And she went and spoke to her mother, "What shall I ask for?" And she said, "The head of John the Baptist!"
The girl rushed back to the king's presence, and made her request. "I want you to give me, this minute, the head of John the Baptist on a dish!" she said.
Herod was aghast, but because of his oath and the presence of his guests, he did not like to refuse her. So he sent one of the palace guardsman straightaway to bring him John's head. He went off and beheaded him in the prison, brought back his head on the dish, and gave it to the girl who handed it to her mother. When his disciples heard what had happened, they came and took away the body and put it in a tomb."
FEEDING THE FIVE THOUSAND
(also Matthew 14:13-21; Luke 9:10-17; John 6:1-15)
Mark 6:30-44 - The apostles returned to Jesus (after preaching and healing, and following the report of John the Baptist's execution) and reported to him every detail of what they had done and taught. "Now come along to some quiet place by yourselves, and rest for a little while," said Jesus, for there were people coming and going incessantly so that they had not even time for meals. They went off in the boat to a quiet place by themselves, but a great many saw them go and recognised them, and people from all the towns hurried around the shore on foot to forestall them. When Jesus disembarked he saw the large crowd and his heart was touched with pity for them because they seemed to him like sheep without a shepherd. And he settled down to teach them about many things. As the day wore on, his disciples came to him and said, "We are right in the wilds here and it is getting late. Let them go now, so that they can buy themselves something to eat from the farms and villages around here"
But Jesus replied, "You give them something to eat!"
"You mean we're to go and spend ten pounds on bread (equivalent to six month's wages)? Is that how you want us to feed them?"
"What bread have you got?" asked Jesus. "Go and have a look."
And when they found out, they told him, "We have five loaves and two fish."
Jesus miraculously feeds five thousand people
Then Jesus directed the people to sit down in parties on the fresh grass. And they threw themselves down in groups of fifty and a hundred. Then Jesus took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to Heaven. thanked God, broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples to distribute to the people. And he divided the two fish among them all. Everybody ate and was satisfied. Afterwards they collected twelve baskets full of pieces of bread and fish that were left over. There were five thousand men (and women and children) who ate the loaves.
WALKING ON WATER
(also Matthew 14:22-33; John 6:16-24)
Mark 6:45-52 - Directly after this (the feeding of the five thousand), Jesus made his disciples get aboard the boat and go on ahead to Bethsaida on the other side of the lake, while he himself sent the crowds home. And when he had sent them all on their way, he went off to the hill-side to pray. When it grew late, the boat was in the middle of the lake, and he was by himself on land. He saw them straining at the oars, for the wind was dead against them. And in the small hours he went towards them, walking on the waters of the lake, intending to come alongside them. But when they saw him walking on the water, they thought he was a ghost, and screamed out. For they all saw him and they were absolutely terrified. But Jesus at once spoke quietly to them, "It's all right, it is I myself; don't be afraid!"
And he climbed aboard the boat with them, and the wind dropped. But they were scared out of their wits. They had not had the sense to learn the lesson of the loaves. Even that miracle had not opened their eyes to see who he was.
JESUS HEALS THE SICK AT GENNESARET
(also Matthew 14:34-36)
Mark 6:53-56 - And when (again after Jesus had walked on the water) they had crossed over to the other side of the lake, they landed at Gennesaret and tied up there. As soon as they came ashore, the people recognised Jesus and rushed all over the countryside and began to carry the sick around on their beds to wherever they heard that he was. Wherever he went, in villages or towns or farms, they laid down their sick right in the road-way and begged him that they might "just touch the edge of his cloak". And all those who touched him were healed.
JESUS AND THE SCRIBES AND PHARISEES - "WHAT REALLY MAKES A PERSON CLEAN"
(also Matthew 15:1-20)
Mark 7:1-23 - And now Jesus was approached by the Pharisees and some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem. They had noticed that his disciples ate their meals with "common" hands - meaning that they had not gone through a ceremonial washing. (The Pharisees, and indeed all the Jews, will never eat unless they have washed their hands in a particular way, following a traditional rule. And they will not eat anything bought in the market until they have first performed their "sprinkling". And there are many other things which they consider important, concerned with the washing of cups, jugs and basins - here, Mark is explaining a Jewish custom for his predominantly Gentile readers.) So the Pharisees and the scribes put this question to Jesus, "Why do your disciples refuse to follow the ancient tradition, and eat their bread with 'common' hands?"
Jesus replied, "You hypocrites, Isaiah described you beautifully when he wrote -
'This people honours me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. And in vain they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men' (Isaiah 29:13).
You are so busy holding on to the traditions of men that you let go the commandment of God!"
Then he went on, "It is wonderful to see how you can set aside the commandment of God to preserve your own tradition! For Moses said,
'Honour your father and your mother' (Exodus 20:12; Deuteronomy 5:16) and
'He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death' (Exodus 21:17; Leviticus 20:9).
But you say, 'if a man says to his father or his mother, Korban (or Corban - Hebrew for a gift or an offering dedicated to God, again explained by Mark for his readers) - meaning, I have given God whatever duty I owed to you', then he need not lift a finger any longer for his father or mother, so making the word of God invalid for the sake of the tradition which you hold. And this is typical of much of what you do."
Then he called the crowd close to him again, and spoke to them, "Listen to me now, all of you, and understand this, There is nothing outside a man which can enter into him and make him 'common'. It is the things which come out of a man that make him 'common'!"
Later, when he had gone indoors away from the crowd, his disciples asked him about this parable.
"Oh, are you as dull as they are?" he said. "Can't you see that anything that goes into a man from outside cannot make him 'common' or unclean? You see, it doesn't go into his heart, but into his stomach, and passes out of the body altogether, so that all food is clean enough. But," he went on, "whatever comes out of a man, that is what makes a man 'common' or unclean. For it is from inside, from men's hearts and minds, that evil thoughts arise - lust, theft, murder, adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, arrogance and folly! All these evil things come from inside a man and make him unclean!"
THE SICK DAUGHTER OF THE SYROPHOENICIAN WOMAN
(also Matthew 15:21-28)
Mark 7:24-30 - Then (as in Matthew's account) he got up and left that place and went off to the neighbourhood of Tyre. There he went into a house and wanted no one to know where he was. But it proved impossible to remain hidden. For no sooner had he got there, than a woman who had heard about him, and who had a daughter possessed by an evil spirit, arrived and prostrated herself before him. She was a Greek, a Syrophoenician by birth, and she asked him to drive the evil spirit out of her daughter. Jesus said to her, "You must let the children have all they want first. It is not right, you know, to take the children's food and throw it to the dogs."
But she replied, "Yes, Lord, I know, but even the dogs under the table eat what the children leave."
"If you can answer like that," Jesus said to her, "you can go home! The evil spirit has left your daughter."
And she went back home and found the child lying quietly on her bed, and the evil spirit gone.
THE DEAF AND DUMB MAN IN THE DECAPOLIS
Mark 7:31-37 - Once more (after healing the daughter of the Syrophoenician woman) Jesus left the neighbourhood of Tyre and passed through Sidon towards the Lake of Galilee, and crossed the Ten Towns territory (the Decapolis). They brought to him a man who was deaf and unable to speak intelligibly, and they implored him to put his hand upon him. Jesus took him away from the crowd by himself. He put his fingers in the man's ears and touched his tongue with his own saliva. Then, looking up to Heaven, he gave a deep sigh and said to him in Aramaic (the common language of the Middle East), "Open!"
And his ears were opened and immediately whatever had tied his tongue came loose and he spoke quite plainly. Jesus gave instructions that they should tell no one about this happening, but the more he told them, the more they broadcast the news. People were absolutely amazed, and kept saying, "How wonderful he has done everything! He even makes the deaf hear and the dumb speak."
FEEDING THE FOUR THOUSAND
(also Matthew 15:29-39)
Mark 8:1-10 - About this time (after Jesus had returned from the Tyre and Sidon area, and healed the deaf and dumb man in the Decapolis) it happened again that a large crowd collected and had nothing to eat. Jesus called the disciples over to him and said, "My heart goes out to this crowd; they have been with me three days now and they have no food left. If I send them off home without anything, they will collapse on the way - and some of them have come from a distance."
His disciples replied, "Where could anyone find the food to feed them here in this deserted spot?"
"How many loaves have you got?" Jesus asked them.
"Seven," they replied.
So Jesus told the crowd to settle themselves on the ground. Then he took the seven loaves into his hands, and with a prayer of thanksgiving broke them, and gave them to the disciples to distribute to the people; and this they did. They had a few small fish as well, and after blessing them, Jesus told the disciples to give these also to the people. They ate and they were satisfied. Moreover, they picked up seven baskets full of pieces left over. The people numbered about four thousand. Jesus sent them home, and then he boarded the boat at once with his disciples and went on to the district of Dalmanutha.
THE SCRIBES AND PHARISEES DEMAND MORE SIGNS FROM JESUS
(also Matthew 16:1-4; Luke 12:54-56)
Mark 8:11-12 - Now (after feeding the 4,000) the Pharisees came out and began an argument with him, wanting a sign from Heaven. Jesus gave a deep sigh, and then said, "What makes this generation want a sign? I can tell you this, they will certainly not be given one!"
THE YEAST OF THE PHARISEES
(also Matthew 16:5-12; Luke 12:1)
Mark 8:13-21 - Then he left them and got aboard the boat again, and crossed the lake.
The disciples had forgotten to take any food and had only one loaf with them in the boat. Jesus spoke seriously to them, "Keep your eyes open! Be on your guard against the 'yeast' of the Pharisees and the 'yeast' of Herod!" And this sent them into an earnest consultation among themselves because they had brought no bread. Jesus knew it and said to them, "Why all this discussion about bringing no bread? Don't you understand or grasp what I say even yet? Are you like the people who 'having eyes, do not see, and having ears, do not hear'? Have your forgotten - when I broke five loaves for five thousand people, how many baskets full of pieces did you pick up?"
"Twelve," they replied.
"And then there were seven loaves for four thousand people, how many baskets of pieces did you pick up?"
"Seven," they said.
"And does that still mean nothing to you?" he said.
THE BLIND MAN OF BETHSAIDA
Mark 8:22-26 - So (after going on to the Dalmanutha/Magadan area, and Jesus has refused to give the Pharisees a sign from heaven) they arrived at Bethsaida where a blind man was brought to him, with the earnest request that he should touch him. Jesus took the blind man's hand and led him outside the village. Then he moistened his eyes with saliva and putting his hands on him, asked, "Can you see at all?"
The man looked up and said, "I can see people. They look like trees - only they are walking about."
Then Jesus put his hands on his eyes once more and his sight came into focus. And he recovered and saw everything sharp and clear. And Jesus sent him off to his own house with the words, "Don't even go into the village."
"WHO DO PEOPLE SAY I AM?" ASKS JESUS
(also Matthew 16:13-20; Luke 9:18-21)
Mark 8:27-30 - (In Mark's account after healing the blind man in Bethsaida .....) Jesus then went away with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked them, "Who are men saying that I am?"
"John the Baptist," they answered. "But others say that you are Elijah or, some say, one of the prophets."
Then he asked them, "But what about you - who do you say that I am?"
"You are Christ!" answered Peter.
Then Jesus impressed it upon them that they must not mention this to anyone.
JESUS TEACHES ABOUT HIS DEATH AND RESURRECTION FOR A FIRST TIME
(also Matthew 16:21-23; Luke 9:22)
Mark 8:31-33 - And (after Peter's declaration that Jesus was the Christ) he (Jesus) began to teach them that it was inevitable that the Son of Man should go through much suffering and be utterly repudiated by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. He told them all this quite bluntly.
This made Peter draw him on one side and take him to task about what he had said. But Jesus turned and faced his disciples and rebuked Peter.
"Out of my way, Satan!" he said. "Peter, you are not looking at things from God's point of view, but from man's!"
CARRYING THE CROSS OF JESUS
(also Matthew 16:24-28; Luke 9:23-27)
Mark 8:34-38 - Then (as in Matthew's account) he called his disciples and the people around him, and said to them, "If anyone wants to follow in my footsteps, he must give up all right to himself, take up his cross and follow me. The man who tries to save his life will lose it; it is the man who loses his life for my sake and the Gospel's who will save it. What good can it do a man to gain the whole world at the price of his own soul? What can a man offer to buy back his soul once he has lost it? If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this unfaithful and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in the Father's glory with the holy angels around him."
CARRYING THE CROSS OF JESUS - Concluded
Mark 9:1 - Then he added, "Believe me, there are some of you standing here who will know nothing of death until you have seen the kingdom of God coming in its power!"
THE TRANSFIGURATION OF JESUS
(also Matthew 17:1-13; Luke 9:28-36)
Mark 9:2-13 - Six days later, Jesus took Peter and James and John with him and led them high up on a hill-side where they were entirely alone. His whole appearance changed before their eyes, while his clothes became white, dazzling white - whiter than any earthly bleaching could make them. Elijah and Moses appeared to the disciples and stood there in conversation with Jesus. Peter burst out to Jesus, "Master, it is wonderful for us to be here! Shall we put up three shelters - one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah?"
He really did not know what to say, for they were very frightened. Then came a cloud which overshadowed them and a voice spoke out of the cloud, "This is my dearly-loved Son. Listen to him!"
Then, quite suddenly they looked all round them and saw nobody at all with them but Jesus. And as they came down the hill-side, he warned them not to tell anybody what they had seen till "the Son of Man should have risen again from the dead". They treasured this remark and tried to puzzle out among themselves what "Rising from the dead" could mean. Then they asked him this question, "Why do the scribes say that Elijah must come before Christ?"
"It is quite true," he told them, "that Elijah does come first, and begins the restitution of all things. But what does the scripture say about the Son of Man? This: that he must go through much suffering and be treated with contempt! I tell you that not only has Elijah come already (as John the Baptist) but they have done to him exactly what they wanted - just as the scripture says of him."
THE EPILEPTIC BOY
(also Matthew 17:14-21; Luke 9:37-43a; 17:5-6)
Mark 9:14-29 - Then as they rejoined the other disciples (also after the Transfiguration), they saw that they were surrounded by a large crowd, and that some of the scribes were arguing with them. As soon as the people saw Jesus, they ran forward excitedly to welcome him.
"What is the trouble?" Jesus asked them.
A man from the crowd answered, "Master, I brought my son to you because he has a dumb spirit. Wherever he is, it gets hold of him, throws him down on the ground and there he foams at the mouth and grinds his teeth. It's simply wearing him out. I did speak to your disciples to get them to drive it out, but they hadn't the power to do it."
Jesus answered them, "Oh, what a faithless people you are! How long must I be with you, how long must I put up with you? Bring him here to me."
So they brought the boy to him, and as soon as the spirit saw Jesus, it convulsed the boy, who fell to the ground and writhed there, foaming at the mouth.
"How long has he been like this?" Jesus asked the father.
"Ever since he was a child," he replied. "Again and again it has thrown him into the fire or into water to finish him off. But if you can do anything, please take pity on us and help us."
"If you can do anything!" retorted Jesus. "Everything is possible to the man who believes."
"I do believe," the boy's father burst out. "Help me to believe more!"
When Jesus noticed that a crowd was rapidly gathering, he spoke sharply to the evil spirit, with the words, "I command you, deaf and dumb spirit, come out of this boy, and never go into him again!"
The spirit gave a loud scream and after a dreadful convulsion left him. The boy lay there like a corpse, so that most of the bystanders said, "He is dead."
But Jesus grasped his hands and lifted him up, and then he stood on his own feet. When he had gone home, Jesus' disciples asked him privately, "Why were we unable to drive it out?"
"Nothing can drive out this kind of thing except prayer," replied Jesus.
JESUS TEACHES ABOUT HIS DEATH AND RESURRECTION FOR A SECOND TIME
(also Matthew 17:22-23; Luke 9:43b-45)
Mark 9:30-32 - Then they left that district (Caesarea Philippi or Galilee) and went straight through Galilee (towards Capernaum). Jesus kept this journey secret for he was teaching his disciples that the Son of Man would be betrayed into the power of men, that they would kill him and that three days after his death he would rise again. But they were completely mystified by this saying, and were afraid to question him about it.
"WHO IS THE GREATEST?"
(also Matthew 18:1-5; Luke 9:46-48)
Mark 9:33-37 - So (sometime after healing the epileptic boy) they came to Capernaum. And when they were indoors he asked them, "What were you discussing as we came along?"
They were silent, for on the way they had been arguing about who should be the greatest. Jesus sat down and called the twelve, and said to them, "If any man wants to be first, he must be last and servant of all."
Then he took a little child and stood him in front of them all, and putting his arms round him, said to them, "Anyone who welcomes one little child like this for my sake is welcoming me. And the man who welcomes me is welcoming not only me but the one who sent me!"
THE MAN NOT AGAINST JESUS IS FOR HIM!
(also Luke 9:49-50)
Mark 9:38-41 - Then (after Jesus had dealt with an argument about which disciple was the greatest) John said to him, "Master, we saw somebody driving out evil spirits in your name, and we stopped him, for he is not one who follows us."
But Jesus replied, "You must not stop him. No one who exerts such power in my name would readily say anything against me. For the man who is not against us is on our side. In fact, I assure you that the man who gives you a mere drink of water in my name, because you are followers of mine, will most certainly be rewarded."
LEADING OTHERS INTO SIN - "THE MILLSTONE AROUND THE NECK"
(also Matthew 18:6-7; Luke 17:1-3a)
Mark 9:42 - "... I tell you too, that the man who disturbs the faith of one of the humblest of those who believe in me would be better off if he were thrown into the sea with a great mill-stone hung round his neck!"
GETTING RID OF TEMPTATION - "THE OFFENDING "EYE", "HAND", "FOOT""
(also Matthew 5:29-30;18:8-9)
Mark 9:43-49 - "Indeed, if it is your own hand that spoils your faith, you must cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than to keep both your hands and go to the rubbish-heap, If your foot spoils your faith, you must cut it off. It is better to enter life on one foot than to keep both your feet and be thrown on to the rubbish-heap. And if your eye leads you astray, pluck it out. It is better for you to go one-eyed into the kingdom of God than to keep both eyes and be thrown on to the rubbish-heap, where
'their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched' (Isaiah 66:24).
For everyone will be salted by fire."
LIVING AS WITNESSES TO JESUS CHRIST - "SALT, AND THE SALT OF THE EARTH"
(also Matthew 5:13; Luke 14:34-35)
Mark 9:50 - "Salt is a very good thing; but if it should lose its saltiness, what can you do to restore its flavour? You must have salt in yourselves, and live at peace with each other."
THE PHARISEES AND DIVORCE
(also Matthew 19:1-12)
Mark 10:1-12 - Then (in Mark's Gospel, after healing the epileptic boy) he got up and left Galilee and went off to the borders of Judea and beyond the Jordan. Again great crowds assembled to meet him, and again, according to his custom, he taught hem. Then some Pharisees arrived to ask him this test-question.
"Is it right for a man to divorce his wife?"
Jesus replied by asking them, "What has Moses commanded you to do?"
"Moses allows men to write a divorce-notice and then to dismiss her," they said.
"Moses gave you that commandment," returned Jesus, "because you know so little of the meaning of love. But from the beginning of the creation, God
'made them male and female' (Genesis 1:27; 5:2).
'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh' (Genesis 2:24).
So that in body they are no longer two people but one. That is why man must never separate what God has joined together."
On reaching the house, his disciples questioned him again about this matter.
"Any man who divorces his wife and marries another woman," he told them, "commits adultery against his wife. And if she herself divorces her husband and marries someone else, she commits adultery."
ACCEPTING THE KINGDOM OF GOD LIKE A CHILD
(also Matthew 19:13-15; Luke 18:15-17)
Mark 10:13-16 - Then (again after being questioned about divorce) some people came to him bringing little children for him to touch. The disciples tried to discourage them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant and told them, "You must let little children come to me - never stop them! For the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Indeed, I assure you that the man who does not accept the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it." Then he took the children in his arms and laid his hands on them and blessed them.
POSSESSIONS AS A POSSIBLE BARRIER TO FOLLOWING JESUS - "THE RICH YOUNG MAN"
(also Matthew 19:16-30; Luke 18:18-30)
Mark 10:17-31 - As he began to take the road again (after welcoming the children), a man came running up and fell at his feet, and asked him, "Good Master, what must I do to be sure of eternal life?"
"I wonder why you call me good," returned Jesus. "No one is good - only God. You know the commandments,
'Do not commit adultery,' 'Do not murder', 'Do not steal,' 'Do not bear false witness,' 'Do not defraud,' 'Honour your father and your mother' (Exodus 20:12-16; Deuteronomy 5:16-20)."
"Master," he replied, "I have kept carefully all these since I was quite young."
Jesus looked steadily at him, and his heart warmed towards him. Then he said, "There is one thing you still want. Go and sell everything you have, give the money away to the poor - you will have riches in Heaven. And then come back and follow me."
At these words his face fell and he went away in deep distress, for he was very rich. Then Jesus looked round at them all, and said to his disciples, "How difficult it is for those who have great possessions to enter the kingdom of God!"
The disciples were staggered at these words, but Jesus continued, "Children, you don't know how hard it can be to get into the kingdom of Heaven. Why, a camel could more easily squeeze through the eye of a needle than a rich man get into the kingdom of God."
At this their astonishment knew no bounds, and they said to each other, "Then who can possibly be saved?"
Jesus looked straight at them and said, "Humanly speaking it is impossible, but not with God. Everything is possible with God."
Then Peter burst out, "But look, we have left everything and followed you!"
"I promise you," returned Jesus, "nobody leaves home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or property for my sake and the Gospel's without getting back a hundred times over, now in this present life, homes and brothers and sisters, mothers and children and land - though not without persecution - and in the next world eternal life. But many who are first now will then be last, and the last now will then be first."
JESUS TEACHES ABOUT HIS DEATH AND RESURRECTION FOR A THIRD TIME
(also Matthew 20:17-19; Luke 18:31-34)
Mark 10:32-34 - They were now on their way up to Jerusalem and Jesus walked on ahead. The disciples were dismayed at this, and those who followed were afraid. Then once more he took the twelve aside and began to tell them what was going to happen to him.
"We are now going up to Jerusalem," he said, "as you can see. And the Son of Man will be betrayed into the power of the chief priests and scribes. They are going to condemn him to death and hand him over to pagans who will jeer at him and spit at him and flog him and kill him. But after three days he will rise again."
JESUS COMES TO SERVE - JOHN AND JAMES WANT TO BE FIRST!
(also Matthew 20:20-28)
Mark 10:35-45 - Then Zebedee's two sons James and John approached him, saying "Master, we want you to grant us a special request."
"What do you want me to do for you?" answered Jesus.
"Give us permission to sit one on each side of you in the glory of your kingdom!"
"You don't know what you are asking," Jesus said to them.
"Can you drink the cup I have to drink? Can you go through the baptism I have to bear?"
"Yes, we can," they replied.
Then Jesus told them, "You will indeed drink the cup I am drinking, and you will undergo the baptism which I have to bear! But as for sitting on either side of me, that is not for me to give - such places belong to those for whom they are intended."
When the other ten heard about this, they began to be highly indignant with James and John; so Jesus called them all to him, and said, "You know that the so-called rulers in the heathen world lord it over them, and their great men have absolute power. But it must not be so among you. No, whoever among you wants to be great must become the servant of you all, and if he wants to be first among you he must be the slave of all men! For the Son of Man himself has not come to be served but to serve, and to give his life to set many others free."
THE BLIND MAN NEAR JERICHO
(also Matthew 20:29-34; Luke 18:35-43)
Mark 10:46-52 - Then (as in Matthew's Gospel) they came to Jericho, and as he was leaving it accompanied by his disciples and a large crowd, Bartimeus (that is, the son of Timaeus), a blind beggar, was sitting in his usual place by the side of the road. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth he began to call out, "Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me!"
Many of the people told him sharply to keep quiet, but he shouted all the more, "Son of David, have pity on me!"
Jesus stood quite still and said, "Call him here."
So they called the blind man, saying, "It's all right now, get up, he's calling you!"
At this he threw off his coat, jumped to his feet and came to Jesus.
"What do you want me to do for you?" he asked him.
"Oh, Master, let me see again!"
"Go on your way then," returned Jesus, "your faith has healed you."
And he recovered his sight at once and followed Jesus along the road.
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