The Kingdom of God- Mark 9-10

Mark chapter 9 begins with a stark reminder that the chapter divisions of the Bible, unlike the scriptures themselves, are not divinely inspired. In point of fact, like many other chapter beginnings, verse one clearly should have been the end of chapter 8. But the fact that it was made the first verse of this chapter instead has resulted in a plethora of misunderstandings and theories. Here is what the verse says:

And he said to them, “Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God after it has come with power.”

rich ruler

The rich fool in Jesus’ parable was not only rich and a fool, but very greedy and covetous. He wanted to keep his riches to himself and not share it with others in need

The first five words indicate that Jesus was still talking to the same crowd that He had called to Him with His disciples in Mark 8:34-38. But alas, some scholars have still tried to link the meaning of the verse to the Transfiguration that follows in the chapter. Frankly, that explanation of “seeing the kingdom of God come into its power” seems the most ludicrous of all the explanations that scholars have offered. Well, perhaps not. Some have offered that it refers to His second coming. That certainly cannot be the case because He has not yet returned, and none of that crowd still lives today. It is the opinion of this writer that the kingdom of God that He refers to is Jesus’ church.

Jesus goes on to cast out a demon that the disciples could not deal with. Jesus makes it pretty plain in verse 19 that it was a matter of faith on their part. A few verses later, they are arguing about which one of them was the greatest. The lesson Jesus tries to teach them is that serving in His kingdom is not about being the greatest. It is about serving.

In verses 42-50, Jesus talks about cutting one’s hand or foot off, or plucking out one’s own eye if they cause you to sin. This is not a literal command obviously — any more that He is saying that they are literally salt in verses 49-50. The point is that one must make big changes in their life in order to avoid temptations. Sometimes that mean removing one’s self from the company of those who would tempt them, or avoiding places and things that cause temptation.

Chapter 10 begins with the Pharisees trying to trap Him about divorce.  His answer is that God takes the marriage vow very seriously, and just as He says in Matthew 5:32, it is His expectation that they stay married, with adultery being an acceptable exception. But clearly, God would prefer that a man and woman stayed married even then. God can forgive any transgression. So can we.

The rich young man who Jesus spoke to in verses 17-22 was told that what he lacked in order to please God was to sell all he had and give it to the poor. This makes some wonder whether this is what is expected of everyone. Jesus knew this man’s heart, and that heart belonged to his possessions. Many people are rich and serve God well. But this man could not. There are some who probably would be better off if they did not have so much material wealth. No man can serve God and money.

Bible Reading Schedule for this month
Click here to read or listen to audio of this week’s chapters in Mark

/Bob’s boy
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some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

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All of my comments in this blog are solely my responsibility. When reading any commentary, you should always refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word.

 

 

 

 

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Psalms 73 – The Prosperity of the Wicked

Psalm 73 begins Book III, which is composed of psalms 73-83, known as the Asaph group. The rest of the psalms in Book III are supposed to be written by the Sons of Korah.  the first part of the psalm starts with a note about the psalmist’s envy of the wicked and their prosperity.

It is a characteristic generality that Satan has us draw, for not all wicked people behave as this describes, nor do all prosper.  But it is sometimes hard for the poor servant of the Lord who struggles from day-to-day to watch the easy life of those who never know what it is to struggle, and then behave and speak irreverently to God, and even to deny him.

poverty_01In that respect (economic snobbery not withstanding) the wealthy are not as fortunate as the poor because it is not very easy for those who do not depend on God for their daily bread to acknowledge their dependence on Him for anything else.  We do well to remember the 40 years that the Lord’s people spent in the wilderness with God providing their manna daily to teach them to depend on the Lord for all things.

With that, we should count ourselves blessed if we lack in earthly riches, for our reward comes later.

Whom have I in heaven but you?
And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you…
For behold, those who are far from you shall perish;

you put an end to everyone who is unfaithful to you.
But for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord God my refuge,

that I may tell of all your work

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
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some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.