What does Mark chapter 10 mean?Where Luke and John give an extensive account of Jesus' teaching between Galilee and Perea, Mark skips ahead to the action. He leaves out Jesus' exhortation to forgive seventy-times-seven (Matthew 18:15–35), the Feast of Tabernacles (John 7:11–31), controversial teachings in Jerusalem (John 8:12–59; Luke 11:14–36), the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25–37), the death and resurrection of Lazarus (John 11:1–44), and several confrontations with the Pharisees that incited the religious leaders to try to find a way to kill Him (John 10:22–39).
Mark 10 probably begins in the region of Perea, on the other side of the Jordan River from Judea, where John the Baptist had his ministry. It ends in Jericho, on the way to Jerusalem and the cross. The stories revolve around the way in which those with worldly power naturally reject God's way. Some by rejecting the needs of women, children, and the disabled, and some by seeking and holding onto power, wealth, and influence instead of submitting themselves to their Creator.
Mark 10 leaves behind the arguments about who Jesus is and concentrates on whom He wants. He starts with a section on divorce (Mark 10:1–12). In Judaism, even today, women are not allowed to divorce their husbands. In Jesus' time, a man could dismiss his wife for the smallest of offences, including burning his meal. Jesus condemns such fickle men and protects vulnerable women by reminding His audience that marriage joins two into one—it does not create one master and one disposable servant.
The disciples still see Jesus as the political and military hero who will deliver Israel from the Romans. They can't fathom why He would champion the powerless like women or children. They try to keep children out of His way, thinking them an inappropriate distraction from more important work (Mark 10:13–16). Jesus stops them and welcomes the children, saying that it is exactly the powerless who will receive God's kingdom.
As a counterpoint to Jesus' acceptance of the powerless, Mark shows how those with earthly prestige may actually be unfit for the kingdom of God (Mark 10:17–31). A rich young man asks Jesus how to inherit eternal life. It happens this man has faithfully observed all the Ten Commandments relating to how a God-follower should treat other people. But with a little more digging, Jesus uncovers that the man lives in conflict with the second commandment, to have no other gods before God. His love of his own wealth is enough to discourage him from further seeking. The man leaves disheartened, knowing that his love of his earthly possessions keeps him from fully pleasing God.
In a second example of how the powerful of the world reject God, Jesus reminds the disciples that the Jewish leaders will reject Him (Mark 10:32–34). Jesus' third prophecy of His death includes more detail. He tells them that the chief priests, scribes, and Gentiles will be involved, and they will mock Him, spit on Him, and flog Him before they kill Him. He also tells them He will rise after three days.
Directly on the heels of this prophecy—at least in the flow of this text—James and John ask for positions of power in Jesus' kingdom (Mark 10:35–45). Jesus responds somewhat gently, reminding them that leadership in God's kingdom requires sacrifice and servanthood, not position and authority.
Finally, Jesus meets Blind Bartimaeus, a beggar from Jericho with the meek but bold heart Jesus values (Mark 10:46–52). Despite the condemnation of the crowd around him, Bartimaeus calls out until Jesus responds. When Jesus heals him, Bartimaeus does not return to his old life, he follows Jesus, perhaps with a clearer view of God's kingdom than the Twelve who know Jesus best.