TODAY’S READING: MARK 10-13
The Servant’s paradoxes (chapter 10); the Servant in Jerusalem (chapters 11-12); the Servant unveils the last days (chapter 13).
HIGHLIGHTS & INSIGHTS:
As we pick up in chapter 10 today, Jesus continues His teaching ministry. The Gospel of Mark centers around what Jesus did, but not to the exclusion of what He taught. In this chapter, Jesus reveals that His wisdom is different than the world’s, and different from our own natural inclinations. As Jesus teaches in this chapter, His teaching centers around five key paradoxes:
Paradox #1 – Two shall be one. (10:1-12) Jesus reveals that God’s intention in marriage has always been ONE man and woman, for ONE lifetime, because they have become ONE flesh. Jesus reveals that God has not changed His position about the sanctity of marriage. God hates divorce (Mal. 2:16), divorce was only ever a concession because of the hardness of men’s hearts (Mark 10:5), and the ensuing remarriage that typically follows a divorce leads to adultery (Mark 10:11-12). Choose wisely.
Paradox #2 – Adults must become as children. (10:13-16) We are constantly striving to get children to act like adults. Jesus said that entrance into the kingdom of God necessitates adults becoming as children. Obviously, Jesus is referring to adults becoming childLIKE, not childISH.
Paradox #3 – The first shall be last; and the last first. (10:17-31) This passage reveals at least four things that keep people from genuine salvation:
•A distrust in the fact of Christ’s deity (that He IS God!). (10:18; I John 2:22-23) •A misguided trust in the purpose of the 10 Commandments (10:19; Gal. 3:24) •A misunderstood trust in our own self-righteousness. (10:20) •A misprioritized trust in riches. (10:21-27; I Tim. 6:17-19) Though not known by name, this “rich young ruler” has become infamous in the fact that he is the only man in Scripture who ever came to Jesus, and went away worse than he came. Sadly, many through the centuries have been just as close to the King and entering His kingdom who followed this young man down the same “sorrowful” and “grievous” path of life (and death!).
Paradox #4 – The greatest of all is the servant of all. (10:32-45) It certainly isn’t true in the world’s economy, but it most certainly is in God’s! The greatest example of this truth, as the passage reveals, is the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. “For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many” (10:45). Philippians 2:5-11 provides an incredible explanation of this paradox. Though our Lord Jesus Christ has always eternally existed in perfect equality with the Father in the Godhead, He humbled Himself and took on the form of a servant. He not only humbled Himself by becoming a man, but by dying as a man. But His humility wasn’t just that He died, but the fact that He died the most humiliating death of all, “even the death of the cross.” It was that very servanthood that caused the Father to exalt Him as the absolute greatest of all, and that has caused us to exalt Him to the place of Lordship in our lives!
Paradox #5 – The blind see, and the seeing are blind. (10:46-52) The Scribes and Pharisees thought that they could see perfectly in the spiritual realm, when in reality they were completely blind. This physically blind man, however, had perfect vision in the spiritual realm. Don’t forget to factor into this paradox the fact that Jesus said that one of the chief characteristics of Christians in our day is that we think we see perfectly in the spiritual realm, when in reality we are completely blind (Rev. 3:17-18).
As we move into chapter 11, recognize that we are already moving into the last eight days of Jesus’ life. Again, because this Gospel is written to Gentiles, rather than spending time focusing on citizenship in the Kingdom of Heaven like Matthew did in addressing the Jews, Mark makes a beeline toward that glorious truth that allows Gentiles to become citizens of the Kingdom of God: the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
>From a “big picture” standpoint, chapters 11 through 13 record events that present Christ, the “servant of all,” in three of His primary offices:
•The Servant is presented as KING. (11:1-11) •The Servant is presented as JUDGE. (11:12-26) •The Servant is presented as PROPHET. (11:27-13:37)
Note that in chapter 13, Jesus prophesies concerning the final week of years (7 years) from Daniel’s prophecy (Dan. 9:24-27) that we call the Tribulation Period.
In this passage He unveils:
•The first half of the Tribulation in 13:5-13.
•The middle of the Tribulation in 13:14-18.
•The last half of the Tribulation in 13:19-27.
Note also the “four watches of the night: in 13:35.
•1st watch – “Even” (i.e. “Evening”) – From 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
•2nd watch – “Midnight” – From 9 p.m. to 12 a.m.
•3rd watch – “Cockcrowing” – From 12 a.m. to 3 a.m.
•4th watch – “Morning” – From 3 a.m. to 6 a.m.
In terms of church history, the appropriate dates that coincide with these “four watches of the night” are as follows:
•1st watch – “Evening” – From c. 33 A.D. to c. 500 A.D.
•2nd watch – “Midnight” – From c. 500 A.D. to c. 1000 A.D.
•3rd watch – “Cockcrowing” – From c. 1000 A.D. to c. 1500 A.D.
•4th watch – “Morning” – From c.1500 A.D. to c. 2000 A.D.
We are living in the very final minutes (and maybe even seconds!) of the final watch of the night. Take special note of Jesus’ final words in chapter 13: “And what I say unto you I say unto all, WATCH”!