Mark 10-11
(Final Trip to Jerusalem)
October 17th

Produced by The Listening for God Ministry
Copyright 2016

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Please refer to one or more Bible versions of your choice to read this section. We recommend that you read at least two versions for added understanding. For your convenience, we have provided six links below, each of which takes you directly to today's chapters in a specific version:

Key Verse

Jesus and his disciples were now on the road going up to Jerusalem. Jesus was going ahead of the disciples, who were filled with alarm; the people who followed behind were afraid. Once again Jesus took the twelve disciples aside and spoke of the things that were going to happen to him.

- Mark 10:32 (GNB)

Summary of Chapters

Jesus enters a final period of lessons and then enters Jerusalem for the last time. He instructed his followers on the sanctity of marriage and the value of little ones. He explained yet again what was about to happen: The betrayal, the humiliation, the death, and the resurrection.

At least two of the disciples were still in the dark after all the miracles and lessons, and tried to get Jesus to give them high positions in heaven. The other ten were clearly upset by their behavior. Jesus explained to all of them that whoever wants to be great must become a servant:

    When the other ten heard of this conversation, they lost their tempers with James and John. Jesus got them together to settle things down. “You’ve observed how godless rulers throw their weight around,” he said, “and when people get a little power how quickly it goes to their heads. It’s not going to be that way with you. Whoever wants to be great must become a servant. Whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave. That is what the Son of Man has done: He came to serve, not to be served—and then to give away his life in exchange for many who are held hostage.”

    - Mark 10:41-45 (MSG)

In chapter 11, Mark describes the joy of the people in Jerusalem as they showered Jesus with Hosannas and threw their coats before him. The following day he encountered the dishonest moneychangers at the temple and cleaned out the place. Following this event, the chief priests and teachers decided it was time to deal with Jesus so that he would not cause any more problems. They approached him in the temple and asked from where his authority originated, but Jesus responded to their question with a question. The Pharisees were afraid to answer Jesus' question, so he would not answer their question either.

Reflection and Application

Some of the disciples just didn’t know when to let go of the idea of who gets the high position. They seem so blindly ambitious that it is almost comical. Yet, we might find ourselves obsessed in similar ways. How often do we need to establish that we are right or we are in charge or we had the right idea or the first right idea, etc. Maybe some of us are beyond these limitations, but for the rest of us it’s an on-going struggle.

The good news is that despite their bumbling, Jesus trusted this group to deliver his message after he was gone – and they did it! They became the servant leaders that he intended. Jesus also knows our bumbling behavior and trusts us to carry out his mission.

Chapter 10 includes a number of scriptures that are often quoted but not so straight-forward to understand. For example, when Jesus says "anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it (Mark 10:15 - MSG)," and when he says "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God (Mark 10:25 - MSG)."

Why did Jesus say children are in and the rich are out? Consider the attributes of children that make them more receptive to receiving God's invitation. They are humble, trusting, and dependent on others. By contrast, those who have built up wealth are tempted to become proud and self-dependent. This is not always the case, but Jesus looks into the hearts of rich and poor to determine how we manage what we have been given, and whether we value our earthly possessions more than treasures in heaven. This is why he said that those who are immersed in their wealth will find it difficult to enter the kingdom of God.

When Jesus enters a place, he makes his presence known. He was greeted with fanfare when he arrived in Jerusalem, and then created controversy by throwing out the moneychangers from the temple. He quotes the prophet Jeremiah in saying that they had turned the temple into a den of thieves, just as they had in Jeremiah’s day, which we read about earlier this year.

The moneychangers were overcharging people who needed to exchange foreign currency to local currency so that they could buy sacrifices to deliver to the Temple. There was no transparency in the market, the bid-ask spreads were wide, and there was collusion among all the thieves so that no one could get an honest exchange. All of this took place in front of the temple, the house of the LORD, the maker of the law.

Did Jesus worry that his actions would damage his celebrity status? No. He was just concerned with respect for the law. The LORD had been quite clear about how people should deal fairly with one another and had repeatedly instructed the prophets to rebuke the people for using unfair weights and measures and other unethical practices. But these rules seemed to have been forgotten.

So who was it that the Chief Priests sought to squash and crucify? The dishonest merchants and thieves who desecrated the temple and broke God’s law in front of God’s house or the One who came to fulfill God’s law? It was the One who came to fulfill God’s law, because he threatened their position.

The conflict captured in these verses was put to music in a folk song written by Woody Guthrie in 1961 in which he questions how Jesus would be treated by society if he preached today:


    Jesus Christ was a man who traveled through the land
    A hard-working man and brave
    He said to the rich, "Give your money to the poor,"
    But they laid Jesus Christ in His grave

    Jesus was a man, a carpenter by hand
    His followers true and brave
    One dirty little coward called Judas Iscariot
    Has laid Jesus Christ in His Grave

    He went to the preacher, He went to the sheriff
    He told them all the same
    "Sell all of your jewelry and give it to the poor,"
    And they laid Jesus Christ in His grave.

    When Jesus come to town, all the working folks around
    Believed what he did say
    But the bankers and the preachers, they nailed Him on the cross,
    And they laid Jesus Christ in his grave.

    And the people held their breath when they heard about his death
    Everybody wondered why
    It was the big landlord and the soldiers that they hired
    To nail Jesus Christ in the sky

    This song was written in New York City
    Of rich man, preacher, and slave
    If Jesus was to preach what He preached in Galilee,
    They would lay poor Jesus in His grave.

    -Woodrow Wilson "Woody" Guthrie (July 14, 1912 – October 3, 1967)

A recording of this song by Merle Haggard served as background music to the closing credits for the Michael Moore film, “Capitalism: A Love Story,” that was released in 2009.

Questions and Prayers for Further Reflection

    Related Questions
    1. What experiences have you had exchanging foreign currency?
    2. Why do so many people find it important to prove they are right? How often are we guilty of the same mistake?
    3. Consider the theme of Guthrie’s song. How would Jesus be treated if he began to preach in your town or city in the same way that he did in Galilee? Who would be drawn to him? Who would persecute him? Where would you be?

    Recommended Prayer
    Father, we know that you are The Authority. All authority on earth and heaven comes from you. Help us to obey you and follow your son Jesus Christ wherever he takes us.

    Suggested Prayer Concerns

    Looking Ahead

    Tomorrow's reading: Mark 12-13 (Keep Watch Because the Hour Is Coming)

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