This week my scripture study is focused on Mark 10. I’m following the Growing 4 Life Bible Reading Plan for 2023, which has us on a slow pace through this gospel of Mark (one chapter each week).
There are so many opinions and ideas in our world about what it really means to be a Christian, but if we take time to listen to the words of Jesus, He tells us. This chapter is rich with wisdom that helps us understand the life of a true follower.
At one point, people were bringing their children to Jesus. They sensed His supernatural power; they wanted His blessing, but the disciples saw this as a bother and a distraction. They rebuked the people and told them to leave Jesus alone.
Mark 10:14-16 – But when Jesus saw this, He was indignant and said to them, “Permit the children to come to Me; do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all.” And He took them in His arms and began blessing them, laying His hands on them.
What is the child-like faith that Jesus held up as the standard for His followers?
Children can accept deep theological truths by faith without the need to fully understand. In contrast, human logic gets in the way of adults believing the gospel. We want proof…we want answers to all our questions and to reconcile all our doubts before we commit by faith to believe what God has clearly told us. Children trust the source of truth – the one who is speaking, even though they may not fully comprehend all that it means.
This is an important piece of wisdom, and Mark “sandwiches” it between two clear examples where child-like faith is needed.
First, Jesus makes a hard-to-swallow statement that flies in the face of our current cultural practices – even among professing believers. The Pharisees bring up the issue of divorce, asking Jesus whether it was lawful for a man to divorce a wife. Jesus explains that Moses gave permission for divorce because of the hardness of the people’s hearts, but this was never God’s intention. God’s plan was for a woman and a man to make a lifelong commitment, two becoming one, and separated only at death. What God has joined together, let no man separate (Mark 10:9).
Jesus takes this commandment a step further, revealing that easy divorce and remarriage actually put us in danger of adultery.
Mark 10:11-12 – And He said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her; and if she herself divorces her husband and marries another man, she is committing adultery.”
Wow. I imagine this passage hasn’t been preached in your local church recently, as it would offend a large portion of the congregation. Divorce is as prevalent in the body of Christ as it is in the world of unbelievers. Yet, there it is, spoken directly from the mouth of the Son of God.
Later, Jesus meets a young man who asks Him an important question: “What shall I do to inherit eternal life?” (Mark 17:17). Jesus quotes the Law to Him, God’s standard of holy perfection. The man responds that he has kept all the Law since he was a child. He sincerely believed he was good enough – that his attempts at following God’s rules were an acceptable standard. I love Jesus’ response. He doesn’t mock the man for believing he was “that good.” He looks at him with compassion – He felt a love for him – as a child’s attempt to impress his father, not understanding how far from perfection he really was.
Instead, Jesus challenges the young man so that his true heart is revealed.
Mark 10:21 – Looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him and said to him, “One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.
Sadly, the young man wasn’t willing. He walked away grieving. To his adult logic, the price of salvation was too high to pay.
Two tests of our faith.
Do we trust our Father’s commandments?
People with child-like faith believe the commands of Jesus take priority over culturally accepted “adjustments” to the standard of life God calls us to follow. Adult faith reasons its way to making allowances for sin that offends God.
Do we trust our Father’s provision?
Child-like faith is willing to give up everything to fully follow the Savior. A child trusts their parent to make sure they have food, clothing, a bed to sleep in, and a roof over their head, without knowing how these things happen. When they get in the car, they assume without question the parent knows where they are going and how to get there. Child-like faith abandons its dependency on this world’s possessions and trusts the Father’s provision.
Do you have child-like faith? Jesus looks at us with love and gently reveals how far we are from the perfection God demands. We need to let go of our high estimation of our own logic and attempts to make God acceptable to our limited reasoning, and simply accept His words by faith.