The Fundamentals of Our Faith;
What We Believe Sermon Series
“We Believe in Jesus”
We must continue to affirm the uniqueness and finality of Jesus Christ. For he is unique in his incarnation (the one and only God-man), unique in his atonement (only he has died for the sins of the world), and unique in his resurrection (only he has conquered death). And since in no other person but Jesus of Nazareth did God first become human (in his birth), then bear our sins (in his death), and then triumph over death (in his resurrection), he is uniquely competent to save sinners. Nobody else possesses his qualifications.
So we may talk about Alexander the Great, Charles the Great and Napoleon the Great, but not Jesus the Great. He is not the Great—he is the Only. There is nobody like him. He has no rival and no successor.
“Jesus is the second member of the trinity, and is described to us as the Son of God, who existed before the creation of the world, participated in creation, and became a human (Jesus of Nazareth), was given birth by a virgin, coming to earth to do the will of God the Father. He lived without sin, died for our sins, was bodily resurrected, ascended into heaven and will come again someday to judge sin and establish permanent righteousness on earth.”
1 Corinthians 15:1-5 “Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. 3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.”
This passage says, “according to the Scriptures” – there is prophecy after prophecy that predicted Jesus’ arrival, and with very specific detail show Him to have fulfilled them. Some biblical scholars hold that there are close to 300 prophecies of the Messiah in the Bible. In we pull only eight and “The prospect that anyone would satisfy those eight prophecies was just 1 in 1017. In Science Speaks, he described it like this:
“Let us try to visualize this chance. If you mark one of ten tickets, and place all of the tickets in a hat, and thoroughly stir them, and then ask a blindfolded man to draw one, his chance of getting the right ticket is one in ten. Suppose that we take 1017 silver dollars and lay them on the face of Texas. They will cover all of the state two feet deep. Now mark one of these silver dollars and stir the whole mass thoroughly, all over the state.
“Blindfold a man and tell him that he can travel as far as he wishes, but he must pick up one silver dollar and say that this is the right one. What chance would he have of getting the right one? Just the same chance that the prophets would have had of writing these eight prophecies and having them all come true in any one man, from their day to the present time, providing they wrote using their own wisdom.”
As God in eternity, He existed before taking on human flesh and becoming human, yet He did not give up any of His divinity – yet he took on being human completely. He was fully God and fully man at the same time. One God, three persons.
In Philippians 2:5-8 “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”
Remember last week we said that God is immutable (unchanging) – So Jesus as God does not change. Jesus did not cease to be God when he took on “the form of a servant,” so he was fully human (he grew tired, slept, was thirsty and hungry, expressed emotions, etc.) yet fully God at the same time.
The theological term we use here is kenosis or “emptied himself,” so this involves a voluntary nonuse of his divinity – Nonuse does not mean subtraction. For example, there are things that as the God-Man Jesus chose not to know (when He was coming back, parousia).
Also, there is apart of his kenosis that involves covering Jesus’ preincarnate glory. If we go to the transfiguration of Jesus in Mark 9:2-8 “And he was transfigured before them, 3 and his clothes became radiant, intensely white, as no one on earth could bleach them.
But while fully God, Jesus was also fully man. “If Jesus had not been a man, he could not have died in our place and paid the penalty that was due to us.” Hebrews 2:16-17 says, “For surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham. 17 Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest pin the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.”
Propitiation; “the sacrifice that is an acceptable substitute for us.” The root meaning of this word is “to make the face of someone sweet or pleasant,” There has been an offense, what then is required to make things right again. We have offended God due to our sin, what must be done to propitiate the relationship? Justice demands death, the penalty for our sin is death. “Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect” Jesus had to be fully man, so that He could settle the offense of sin against God.
The Virgin Birth
Jesus became human in a very special way. His birth was a result of a miraculous conception. “In the womb of the virgin Mary, Jesus was supernaturally conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit. Luke 1:35 tells us what happened, “And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God.” Jesus did not have an earthly biological father, Mary conceived as a virgin.
Why is the virgin birth important?
1) “It shows that salvation ultimately must come from the Lord.” Salvation will never have come from human self-effort, God had to step in and do something.
2) “It makes possible Christ’s true humanity without inherited sin.” Everyone inherits a corrupted sin nature from Adam, but because Jesus did not have a human father that was somehow interrupted. What About Mary’s inherited sin nature? Luke 1:35 “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God.” In some miraculous way, the Holy Spirit kept the sin nature from passing on the Jesus.
3) “The virgin birth made possible the uniting of full deity and full humanity in one person. This was the means God used to send his Son (John 3:16; Galatians 4:4) into the world as a man.”
Savior of the World
Jesus lived a sinless life, “He had to be sinless or else His death on our behalf would have been worthless. Since ‘the wages of sin is death’ (Romans 6:23), meaning eternal spiritual and physical death, if Jesus had sinned He would Himself have suffered eternal separation and physical death. His death on the cross, then, could have done nothing for us. But because He was sinless, He did not deserve to die; and because He was God, His death could count for ours.”
“Adam served as our representative in the Garden of Eden, and through his disobedience God counted us guilty as well. In a similar way, Jesus was our representative and obeyed for us where Adam had disobeyed and failed.”
There is a parallel between Jesus’ temptation (Luke 4:1-13) and the time of testing for Adam and Eve in the garden (Gen. 2:15-3:7). Paul also discusses this parallel between Adam and Christ in Romans 5:18-19 “Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for fall men. 19 For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.” This is why Paul calls Jesus the “last Adam.” There are no other Saviors coming, He is the ultimate and final sacrifice.
Humanity is separated from God because of sin, and unless one believes in Jesus, committing your life to Him, he or she will be separated from God forever. John 1:1, 12 says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. . . But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, the gave the right to become children of God,”
His Teachings Were Astonishing
Jesus taught us, that nothing is more important than your soul, and what you do with it. Matthew 16:26 “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?” Our greatest need is to do something about our sin – we need to be saved. Through Jesus we see that God is willing, because of His love for us, to give His one and only Son to be the payment that is required for our sin.
John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” Jesus came to this reality (remember God is transcendent) and suffered as a man and died, so that His creation may be rid of sin.
Before we move on from Jesus’ teaching, I think it is helpful to look at a quote from C.S. Lewis,
“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”
Jesus claimed deity for Himself in a way quite clear to His listeners. He said on one occasion, “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30). His decisive expression of deity led to his crucifixion” John 19:7 “The Jews answered him, “We have a law, and according to that law he ought to die because he has made himself the Son of God.”
The high priest expressly asked Jesus in Matthew 26:63-65 “I adjure you by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.” 64 Jesus said to him, “You have said so. But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.” 65 Then the high priest tore his robes and said, “He has uttered blasphemy. What further witnesses do we need?” In His claiming to be the Son of God, he said he had the authority to forgive sin, that He would come in future judgment, and that He had the authority to raise the dad.
His Actions Were Miraculous
To prove He was who He said He was, he did miracles. “Jesus performed miracles not to amaze or entertain people. He healed people out of a sense of compassion. He wept before raising Lazarus from the dead. Also, He performed miracles in order to help people believe what He was saying. For example, He claimed to be the light of the world, and then gave sight to a blind man. He claimed to be the bread of life, and He fed five thousand people with a few loaves. He claimed to the resurrection and the life, and He raised Lazarus from the dead.”
“Jesus demonstrated for all to see and hear the attributes which belong to God alone. He claimed omnipotence (all power) with the words, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me” (Matthew 28:18). During His life He demonstrated power over nature by stilling the stormy waves (Mark 4:39) and turning water into wine (John 2:7-11).”
His Continued Ministry For Humanity
When Jesus ascended into heaven He sat down at the right hand of the Father, indicating that His earthly task was completed successfully. Now, He intercedes for us in prayer. Romans 8:34 “Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.”
Also, Romans 8:24 says, “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.”
Do You Know This Jesus Today? Have you accepted His gift of His life as a substitute for your sin – His sinless life for yours? He wants you to give your life to him today – won’t you do it.
 The Radical Disciple: Some Neglected Aspects of Our Calling by John R. W. Stott Copyright (c) 2010 by John R. W. Stott. Published by InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL. www.ivpress.com
 Max Anders, New Christian’s Handbook, Everything New Believers Need to Know (Nashville, Tennessee; Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1999) 24.
 Shortly after Jesus’ death some claimed that Jesus did not truly have a human body; He only seemed human. That was rejected at the Council of Chalcedon in AD 451. (Anders, 25)
 Grudem, 236.
 George Arthur Buttrick, Dictionary Editor, The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible, An Illustrated Encyclopedia (Nashville, Tennessee; Abingdon Press, 1962) 920.
 Wayne Grudem, Bible Doctrine, Essential Teachings of the Christian Faith (Grand Rapids, Michigan; Zondervan Publishing, 1999) 230.
 Grudem, 230.
 Anders, 28.
 Grudem, 235.
 Paul Little, Know What You Believe, A Practical Discussion of the Fundamentals of the Christian Faith (Colorado Springs, Colorado; Cook Communications, 1999) 42.
 Anders, 42.
 Little, 43.
Christ’s Power Over Every Need
The Gospel of Mark Sermon Series
“What Must I Do to Inherit Eternal Life?”
After striking a large deposit of gold, two miners in the Klondike gold rush were so excited about unearthing more and more gold each day that they neglected to store up provisions for the winter. Then came the first blizzard. Nearly frozen, one of the miners scribbled a note explaining their foolishness. Then he lay down to die, having come to his senses too late. Months later, a prospecting party discovered the note and the miners’ frozen bodies lying on top of a huge pile of gold.
Obsessed with their treasure, these men hadn’t taken into account that the fair weather wouldn’t last and winter was coming. Hypnotized by their wealth, they failed to prepare for the imminent future. The gold that seemed such a blessing proved to be a deadly curse.
The False Path to Eternal Life (vv. 17-22)
“And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 18 And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. 19 You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’” 20 And he said to him, “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.” 21 And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 22 Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.
The man who ran up to Jesus calls him “Good Teacher.” The Greek word he used is agathos, meaning, “intrinsically good.” The word was no used lightly nor or every good thing. We will see in verse 22, that his passion outweighed his commitment.”
Jesus responds by saying, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.” Jesus is saying, “Before you address me with such a title, you had better think soberly about what the implications are, and especially what they are for you.”
(v. 17) He then asks, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Brooks notes, “most Jews would have no doubts about what to do; observe the law. Probably the man had heard about Jesus’ teaching that mere obedience to the law was not enough.”
“indicating that he was thinking in terms of Jewish works of righteousness. He wanted to do something to merit eternal life, whereas Jesus taught that eternal life (the kingdom of God) is a gift to be received (v. 15). The disciples also were in this same mind set, because they are astonished at Jesus’ answer.
(v. 19) Jesus then moves to the 10 Commandments, where the man says, “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.” – This passage really summarizes why Jesus (God with skin on) came to earth; there are people who want to have eternal life, they are working so hard at trying to be good people, but in the end that’s not enough. And in that struggle, Jesus’ heart breaks.
“This is a sample of Pharisaic training which nullifies the very effect that God intends that the law should produce, namely, contrite knowledge of sin and the terrors conscientiae.” The man, even though he has kept the law from his youth, there is still something missing. He is dissatisfied with being self-righteous.
This is a real danger for churches – people who a seeking to be good people, upright citizens, but have never gone on to be genuine followers of Christ. They hold on to something in this world that keeps them from having eternal life. There was a time in Webster’s dictionary that defined Christian as “a decent, civilized, or presentable person.”
(v. 21) The man was sincere in his desire to follow God and keep the commandments, “And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him”
There are few people that truly see us – in spite of what Jesus saw, he loved him anyway. Then He spoke to him, showing him where he fell short of his goal of inheriting eternal life. “Jesus saw people with a double eye. He saw what they were, and he saw what they might be.” Jesus saw Peter as a fisherman, and a fisher of men.
The thing that Jesus commands the man to do is rooted in his love for him, and his desire for him to have eternal life. But, no matter how much we are loved by God, he will not override our choices. God gives mankind the dignity of choice.
“The one thing that prevented this young man from having eternal life was the security of his wealth.” Jesus highlights this by giving him the instructions to sell all his stuff, give them money to the poor, and “come, follow me.” (with nothing, just him). “the call is not to poverty, but to discipleship.”
The act of selling all his stuff is not something that earns him eternal life – Jesus is prescribing for this man a way for him to rid himself of something that is preventing him from having eternal life. “You lack one thing,” Jesus does not tell him exactly what that one thing is, but he tells him what is necessary for the one thing to become a reality. “What you have” stands between you and what you are seeking (eternal life).”
“The thing he lacks begins with this discovery, with the realization that all his work-righteousness is in vain, that what he needs is a complete inward change.”
But don’t think, “I’m not rich, so this does not apply to me.” The one thing that this man lacks “is the self-sacrificing devotion which characterizes every true follower of Jesus.”
“Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful” – “The man is conscience of his defect, an important point in his spiritual condition.” To obey Jesus was too great a risk for him to take, the security of his wealth, outweighed the security of the gospel. He said to himself, “I can’t follow Jesus if it means giving up my wealth.” Disobedience to God always brings sorrow.
This is the only verse in Mark where someone being called to discipleship but refusing.
The Costly Path of Eternal Life (vv. 23-27)
23 And Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” 24 And the disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how difficult it is to enter the kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” 26 And they were exceedingly astonished, and said to him, “Then who can be saved?” 27 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.”
(v. 23) Jesus says, ““How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” Jesus never questions the man’s ability to keep the law (even from his youth), but “this action demonstrated how easy it was to become so attached to wealth that even an earnest man forgets what is infinitely more important.”
This also follows Mark 9:43 “And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire.” This is a call to radical action to remove that which would keep a person from heaven.
(v. 24) The disciples were “amazed,” and then again in (v. 26) “they were exceedingly astonished” at Jesus’ words, because the Jewish people “regarded wealth as a token of God’s favor.” “If this were true, then how would they – poor fishermen – gain entrance? The disciples asked if the best could not be saved, who could?”
(v. 25) The type of needle referenced is a sewing needle, and the camel is a regular camel. Jesus’ point is that it is impossible to put a camel through such a small opening as the eye of a needle. It is impossible for a man to be saved, in his own effort. Jesus is saying that it is impossible for a rich man, who trusts in riches, to go into the kingdom. He must learn to trust in Jesus alone.
The disciples ask the question, “Then who can be saved?” – we also use the word, saved. But what is it that the disciples are referring to; what does a person need to be saved from?
Jesus tells us that salvation is completely a work of God. “apart from the grace of God, it is impossible for any man – especially a rich man – to enter God’s kingdom.”
“Saved,” “salvation,” “eternal life,” “kingdom of God” are all used synonymously, meaning a right relationship with God. “This verse probably is the key to understanding the entire passage.
Inheriting eternal life, entering the kingdom, and being saved are impossible for any human being, but not for God, who is good and desires the salvation of all. Therefore, all must depend entirely upon God. Such absolute trust in God makes possible a life of faithful discipleship.” We come to God empty handed.
The Promise of Eternal Life (vv. 28-31)
28 Peter began to say to him, “See, we have left everything and followed you.” 29 Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, 30 who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life. 31 But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”
(v. 28) Peter is responding to the rich man’s response to Jesus’ command to give up his material possessions and “come follow me.” This is almost identical to Jesus’ call of the disciples, specifically where Peter leaves his father and their family business in Mark 1:18 “And immediately they left their nets and followed him.”
(v. 29) Jesus gives a threefold answer to Peter, and he begins by making a promise “Truly, I say to you” – If there is a person who has “left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel,”
(1) receive a hundredfold what he has lost – when a person leaves his biological family he gains his church family. Often times, the brotherhood among Christians is stronger than biological sibling ties.
True fellowship within a church should be so genuine that we can see it as a good substitute for what has been left behind for the sake of the gospel. “Is fellowship just a beautiful word, with an attractive, but faraway, NT aroma about it, rather than a realized ideal?”
(2) suffer persecutions – Mark alone emphasizes persecution. This is the utter honesty of Jesus. He never offered an easy way. To be a Christian will cost you something. Barkley says, “Jesus never used a bribe to make men follow him. He used a challenge.”
(3) have eternal life in the age to come. God does not take anything from us without restoring it to him in a new and glorious form.
Jesus promises a full, though difficult, life here and now, and eternal life in the “age to come.” This entire section focuses on that riches make being a disciple difficult but the rewards of discipleship are worth more than material possessions.
Jesus is not teaching that being rich is evil, nor is being poor better than being rich. He is not teaching that only the poor can be saved. Jesus is saying that “God takes nothing away from a man without restoring it to him in a new and glorious from.”
Gregg Easterbrook wrote about this in a 2003 book called The Progress Paradox. Easterbrook’s subtitle was How Life Gets Better While People Feel Worse. He describes how affluent we have become—better food, better healthcare, better education, better communication, better climate control, better entertainment, better transportation—all of that.
Yet, when sociologists do their surveys, and people in America indicate where they fall on the satisfaction scale, they are only “slightly satisfied.” Easterbrook has many explanations for this paradox—a condition some have termed affluenza—but the fundamental problem is that this fallen world cannot satisfy anyone.
What we really need, and what we are really looking for, whether we know it or not, is a relationship with the living God. David expressed it well when he said, My soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. (Ps. 63:1)
 Lane 375. “Scribal legislation prohibited the giving away of all one’s possessions precisely because it would reduce a man to poverty.”
 Cooper, 167.
 Gaebelain, 715.
 Rodney L. Cooper, Holman New Testament Commentary, Mark (Nashville, Tennessee; Holman Reference, 2000) 166.
 Frank E. Gaebelein, General Editor, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Volume 8 (Grand Rapids, Michigan; Zondervan Publishing, 1984) 715.
 R. C. Lenski, The Interpretation of St. Mark’s Gospel (Minneapolis, Minnesota; Augsburg Publishing House, 1964) 435.
 George Arthur Buttrick, Commentary Editor, The Interpreter’s Bible, Volume 7 (Nashville, Tennessee; Abingdon Press, 1953) 803.
 “A primrose by a river’s brim, A yellow primrose was to him, And it was nothing more.” William Wordsworth
 Cooper, 168.
 Gaebelain, 715.
 James A. Brooks, The New American Commentary, Mark (Nashville, Tennessee; Broadman Press, 1991) 163.
 Clifton Allen, General Editor, The Broadman Bible Commentary, Volume 8 (Nashville, Tennessee; Broadman Press, 1969) 349.
 Lenski, 436.
 William L. Lane, The New International Commentary on The New Testament, The Gospel According to Mark (Grand Rapids, Michigan; William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. 1974) 367.
 W. Robertson Nicoll, The Expositor’s Greek Testament, Volume 1 (Grand Rapids, Michigan; WM. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1967) 411.
 Lane, 369.
 Archibald Thomas Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament, Volume 1 (Nashville, Tennessee; Broadman Press, 1932) 352.
 There is no evidence for a special gate in the city wall, called “The Eye of the Needle,” nor is there is any evidence that “needle” should be translated as “rope.”
 Gaebelain, 716.
 Brooks, 165.
 See Mark 3:31-35
 Buttrick, 809.
 Cooper, 169.
 Lane, 372.
Christ’s Power Over Every Need
The Gospel of Mark Sermon Series
“Marriage & Children”
In 2005, the Guinness Book of World Records said that Percy and Florence Arrowsmith held two records—the longest marriage of a living couple (80 years) and having the largest married couple’s aggregate age (205 years).
Both Mr. and Mrs. Arrowsmith have since died, but they left good advice for those who want to have a lasting marriage. Florence said, “You must never go to sleep bad friends. If you’ve had a quarrel, you make it up. Never be afraid to say, ‘sorry’.”
Percy had slightly more humorous advice. He said the secret to his long marriage was just two words, “Yes, dear.”
In Intention of Marriage (vv. 1-12)
“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. 2 And Pharisees came up and in order to test him asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” 3 He answered them, “What did Moses command you?” 4 They said, “Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of divorce and to send her away.”5 And Jesus said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment.
When we close chapter nine we have six months until the cross, and when we get to the opening verses of chapter 10 we are only weeks away. There are caravans and multitudes of people traveling to Jerusalem. So, as they are moving and traveling, Jesus is teaching them.
(v. 1) “went to the region of Judea and beyond the Jordan” – “The fact that Jesus was in Perea, Herod Antipas’s territory, may be significant. Antipas had put John the Baptist to death because John had denounced Antipas’s marriage and divorce. The Pharisees are hoping that Jesus would get himself into trouble with Antipas and would suffer the same cruel fate as John (head on a platter).” John the Baptist died because he took a stand on this subject.
Also, “Herod took John the Baptist’s criticism of his marriage as potential incitement to revolt, and it is likely that the political situation in Galilee best explains the original reason for which Jesus was questioned about his views on divorce.”
Mark tells us these religious leaders, the Pharisees, are up to no good, and trying to trip Jesus up, when he says, “in order to test him.”
Jesus references Deuteronomy 24:1 when he says, “What did Moses command you?” and the Pharisees quote their source of authority, Moses, “When a man takes a wife and marries her, if then she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found some indecency in her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out of his house, and she departs out of his house,” Apparently, before Moses’ day, a man could divorce his wife with just a word.
The Pharisees are saying Moses permitted divorce providing a certificate of divorce was given to the wife. Of course they had rules relating to the certificate (it had to be written on durable material, permanent ink, something that wouldn’t fade, etc.) – But they are not having the discussion of God’s intention behind marriage, only the loop holes, the short cuts, and the way out.
“On the question of the lawfulness of divorce, there was general unanimity among the Jews: divorce was allowed. The real difference of opinion centered on the grounds for divorce. . . In Duet. 24:1 the crucial words are “something indecent.” There were two schools that one typically fell into.
“The school of Shammai, the stricter of the schools, understood these words to mean something morally indecent, in particular, adultery. But remember that “the penalty for adultery was not divorce, under the Mosaic code, but death.”
The school of Hillel interpreted the words much more freely. Just about anything in a wife that a husband did not find to his liking was suitable grounds for divorce. Even if she burned food.” Where Jesus stood between these two schools, and to get him to say something that could be used against him was their goal.
Remember that the book of Mark was not written to the Jewish people, but to the Roman believers; so there would be little interest in the rabbinical teachings on the law, their focus would have been “in Jesus’ teaching about God’s will.”
Jesus does not question the law. But he reaches back to first principles. God’s design for a man and woman was that marriage should be an unbroken lifelong union. Jesus is pointing out that because man’s hearts are rebellious, he gives provisions that are intended to slow down the effects of sin upon society. The rabbis mistook God’s gracious provision in allowing divorce as his approval of it.”
(v. 5) “And Jesus said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment.” – The law was an attempt to promote some order and restraint in the society to which it was first given. The reason for the law was the people’s “hardness of heart.” The people were set on doing what they thought and desired; they were blind and unteachable as far as God’s will for them was concerned.
When Jesus comments on Moses’ statement in that it is not a reflection of the will of God but instead reflects the stubbornness of the Israelites (v. 5) – this would have been unique and striking. The men were throwing their wives to the side for the most insignificant of reasons.
6 But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ 7 ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, 8 and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. 9 What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”
Jesus moves the discussion from “is it lawful?” to the purpose of God for marriage. Jesus turns to the beginning of creation; It is God’s purpose for mankind, male and female, to be joined together by God – a holy union. God joined the man and woman together. Man should not separate what God put together. “Mere formal divorce does not annul the actual marriage consummated by the physical union. Breaking that bond does annul it.”
Since marriage is a lifelong union between a man and a woman, its’ claims take precedence over ties to father and mother (v.7). “So they are no longer two but one flesh” – they are one unit.
(v. 9) “therefore God has joined together” – means literally “yoked together” It graphically stresses the importance of husband and wife working together as a team of oxen yoked together. God has put a man and woman together to work for the glory of God, with their family.
In Genesis 1:27 “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” “In this passage men and women are presented on equal ground. Both are to be respected, and they are equal partners. “In the social and economic context of ancient Palestine, the absolute right of the husband to divorce often meant great hardship for divorced wives, who might be given one lump-sum economic settlement if they were not accused of unchastity.
This sum, however would be no more than the woman’s dowry given at marriage, and that might be very small if the woman had poor parents.” Jesus is rejecting the idea of women being property and the wife has rights in the context of marriage, based upon the creation account.
“Jesus defines marriage as a relationship in which both husband and wife are responsible both to each other and to God for maintaining its sanctity.”
10 And in the house the disciples asked him again about this matter. 11 And he said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her, 12 and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.”
Mark does not tell us how the Pharisees respond to Jesus’ comment. Instead, we go immediately into house again for a private conversation.
“In rabbinic Judaism a woman by infidelity could commit adultery against her husband; and a man, by having sexual relations with another man’s wife, could commit adultery against him. But a man could never commit adultery against his wife, no matter what he did.”
(v. 11) By Jesus saying, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her” – is putting the man under the same moral obligation as the wife, thereby raising the status and dignity of women. Whatever the reason for a divorce someone’s heart along the way was hardened toward God, and this was reflected in the marriage. Jesus is directly targeting men who are being cruel in how they are divorcing their wives, and against their perverse disregard of the purpose of the Creator when he formed man from the dust and joined husband and wife together.
The Innocence of Children (vv. 13-15)
“And they were bringing children to him that he might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them. 14 But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. 15 Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” 16 And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them.”
It was a custom for parents to bring their children to great men and have them blessed. Here we then see parents bringing their children to Jesus, and he was blessing them. Parents are wanting a better future for their children, a blessed future.
This is the point of a godly household and parents, to bring their children to Jesus. Ephesians 6:4 “bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”
But the disciples are rebuking them. Why did the disciples want to keep parents and children away from Jesus? They were keeping parents and children from experiencing Jesus. The disciples tried to stop the anonymous exorcist (Mark 9:38-41) from casting out demons, and “Jesus said, “Do not stop him,” Here the disciples are again, trying to stop people.
The disciples haven’t captured the spirit of Jesus. We ask, how can they have been with Jesus so long, and heard all that He said, and still miss the things that Jesus really cared about. They still seem calloused toward people (ex. hungry people, those outside the twelve).
“he was indignant” – “It was a strong word of deep emotion (from agan and acthomai, to feel pain).” “The disciples attempt to turn the children aside because they were unimportant, is one more instance of a persistent tendency to think in wholly human, fallen categories which Jesus had rebuked on earlier occasions (Mark 8:33; 9:33-37). The kingdom of God is made up of “childlike” earthly unimportant people.
(v. 14) “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them,” – hinder is an active, conscience, intentional blocking or obstruction. “for to such belongs the kingdom of God. 15 Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter.”
“The kingdom is that which God gives and that which man receives. Essential to the comparison developed in verse 15 is the objective littleness and helplessness of the child, which is presupposed in verse 14 as well. The kingdom may be entered only by one who knows he is helpless and small, without claim or merit.”
(v. 16) “And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them.” – “A papyrus dated Alexandria, June 17, 1 B.C. contains a letter of instruction from a husband to his expectant wife, who he supposes may have had her child: “if it was a male child, let it live; if it was a female, cast it out.” Jesus shows his love for all children, which is freely given to all who would receive it.
 Archibald Thomas Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament, Volume 1 (Nashville, Tennessee; Broadman Press, 1930) 348.
 Frank E. Gaebelein, General Editor, The Expositor’s Bible Dictionary, Volume 8 (Grand Rapids, Michigan; Zondervan Publishing, 1984) 710.
 Larry Hurtado, New International Biblical Commentary, Mark (Peabody Massachusetts; Hendrickson Publishing, 2001) 160.
 An example of an eleventh-century Jewish divorce certificate, “On . . .[date], I . . .[name], son of . . . and of . . .. of my own free will and purpose and without an coercion whatsoever, do divorce, set free, and repudiate you, . . . [name], so that you are now free and in full possession of your own person, with the right to go and be married to whmever you choose. . .” Buttrick, 796.
 Gaebelein, 710.
 George Arthur Buttrick, The Interpreter’s Bible, Volume 7 (Nashville, Tennessee; Abingdon Press, 1953) 795. See also, John 8:2-11 The woman caught in adultery.
 Gaebelein, 710.
 Clifton J. Allen, The Broadman Bible Commentary, Volume 8 (Nashville, Tennessee; Broadman Press, 1969) 346.
 Allen, 346.
 Hurtado, 160.
 Robertson, 349.
 Hurtado, 160.
 Hurtado, 161.
 Gaebelein, 712.
 Genesis 48:13-20.
 Robertson, 350.
 William L. Lane, The New International Commentary on the New Testament, The Gospel of Mark (Grand Rapids, Michigan; William B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1974) 361.