…Mark 10 and the Kingdom of God…
“Then who can be saved?”
Mark 10:13-26 (JNT)
13 People were bringing children to him so that he might touch them, but the talmidim rebuked those people. 14 However, when Yeshua saw it, he became indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me, don’t stop them, for the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 15 Yes! I tell you, whoever does not receive the Kingdom of God like a child will not enter it!” 16 And he took them in his arms, laid his hands on them, and made a b’rakhah (blessing) over them. 17 As he was starting on his way, a man ran up, kneeled down in front of him and asked, “Good rabbi, what should I do to obtain eternal life?” 18 Yeshua said to him, “Why are you calling me good? No one is good except God! 19 You know the mitzvot (commandments)— ‘Don’t murder, don’t commit adultery, don’t steal, don’t give false testimony, don’t defraud, honor your father and mother, …’”k 20 “Rabbi,” he said, “I have kept all these since I was a boy.” 21 Yeshua, looking at him, felt love for him and said to him, “You’re missing one thing. Go, sell whatever you own, give to the poor, and you will have riches in heaven. Then come, follow me!” 22 Shocked by this word, he went away sad, because he was a wealthy man. 23 Yeshua looked around and said to his talmidim (disciples), “How hard it is going to be for people with wealth to enter the Kingdom of God!” 24 The talmidim were astounded at these words; but Yeshua said to them again, “My friends, how hard it is to enter the Kingdom of God! 25 It’s easier for a camel to pass through a needle’s eye than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God.” 26 They were utterly amazed and said to him,
“Then who can be saved?”
Since the changeover to my current blog platform, the first thing I discovered I needed to do was update my posts – but life sometimes gets in the way. When this happens, and it has happened to us all, I tend to falter at doing the tasks that God has set before me and for that I repent. You, my readers, are that task; you are whom God expects me to be accountable to as well as to Him, blessed be He forever. One thing I do know – in the natural things happen that have a direct link to the spiritual element that controls our lives and for sure, life needs to take a backseat to the Kingdom of God. This is the reason for our study today. I started my blog back in 2011 – now 118 posts and 9 years later, I face the challenge of going through each post, updating, and correcting, as necessary. Most need to be brought up to date, with changes that reflect my own growth and the understanding that Father has given to me. Some will need just grammar and spelling fixes – but we will see. The biggest challenge is to hopefully make them more readable - that involves simplifying my footnotes and making the longer post shorter by breaking them into smaller pieces – we will see what happens. Thank you all though, for coming along the ride with me. Now, without further ado, let us begin our study.
In the Gospel of Mark, chapter 10 stands out as being one of the most remarkable teachings by Yeshua – not only because it speaks about the Kingdom, but also gives us a greater glimpse of the Torah and the root cause of all the problems that plague us in our walk with God: the hardness of our heart. Several themes are introduced in this chapter, and none of them seem to have a connection with one another, but we will see as we go along how they all intertwine with one another to give us an answer to the question “Then who can be saved?”
I opened this epistle with Mark 10:13-26, but I do not want to neglect any part of this chapter, so let us look at Mark 10:1-12…
Mark 10:1-12 (JNT)
1 Then Yeshua left that place and went into the regions of Y’hudah (Judah) and the territory beyond the Yarden (Jordon). Again, crowds gathered around him; and again, as usual, he taught them. 2 Some P’rushim (Pharisees) came up and tried to trap him by asking him, “Does the Torah permit a man to divorce his wife?” 3 He replied, “What did Moshe (Moses) command
you?” 4 They said, “Moshe allowed a man to hand his wife a get (writ or decree) and divorce her.” 5 But Yeshua said to them, “He wrote this commandment for you because of your hardheartedness. 6 However, at the beginning of creation, God
made them male and female. 7 For this reason, a man should leave his father and mother and be united with his wife,
8 and the two are to become one flesh. Thus, they are no longer two, but one. 9 So then, no one should break apart what God has joined together.” 10 When they were indoors once more, the talmidim asked him about this. 11 He said
to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against his wife; 12 and if a wife divorces her husband and marries another man, she too commits adultery.”
The discussion is between Yeshua and the P’rushim (Pharisees) concerning the putting away (divorce) of a man’s wife. Several things to be noticed here: without much commentary, Yeshua explains that this mitzvah
(commandment) was written by Moshe (Moses) and not God. And why did Moshe write such a thing? Because of the hardness of the men’s hearts toward their wives. This theme will come back to us later but think about what this sin – this hardness of the heart – has wrought upon civilization to this day. What devastation it has caused. The hardness of man’s heart has turned what God considered a holy union of men and women into the spectacle it is today. Not only is divorce rampant in our societies, it has also upset the entire definition of this holy union by introducing the charade of same-sex marriage and of “civil unions”; a total disregard of the bond of marriage is seen throughout society and the result has been the breakdown of the family. This hardness of the heart plays into our study today but we must all bow our heads in shame – men AND women – we are the ones who have done evils to one another that has caused this perfect plan of God to come to naught. Men who abuse, women who abuse; men who cheat, women who cheat; the list is endless of the sins against one another but it all stems from the hardness of the heart.
God’s original plan was that those whom He placed together, stayed together: in the hardness of our hearts the plan to be changed but the good news is it will only be a temporary alteration. When rebellion against the Most High is finally put to an end, then what God had crafted in the beginning will once more be the reality.
So, in the interim, who suffers the most? In the breakup of the marriage, it usually is the woman – but they are not the only casualty, though it really depends upon the level of the hardness, of the cruelty done to one another, be the fault man or woman. The one factor that does not change, regardless who is at fault, is this: if children are involved, they are always hurt.
This takes us to our opening Scriptures. In verse 13, we see that there are those that while Yeshua is teaching the crowd, they are bringing their children (maybe they are jostling the crowd to get up next to Him…) before Yeshua so that He might lay His hands on them and give them a blessing (compare Matthew 19:13-15; Luke 18:15-17). This has always been a custom of the Jews – to bring the children before a great teacher or a holy person to have a blessing put upon the children – so why the rebuke by the disciples?
It can only be speculation on our part – for we aren’t given the reason - maybe the parents or guardians of the children interrupted the teaching; maybe the disciples thought Yeshua was too important to devote His precious time to tending to the children, who can really say? Nevertheless – the disciples’ reaction angered Yeshua. He rebuked the rebuke, chastising His disciples and encouraged the children to come to Him.
Now, let us look at this in another way. There have always been “great” men, powerful men. There have always been those who yesterday and today have been and are sought by many. The many come to them for a
variety of reasons; those who gain access to these powerful figures usually have something in common: those who come have something they hope to gain or exchange for the encounter with the powerful.
Today it is the lobbyist, the politician, the banker, or the business tycoon that seek the audience of people in a position of power to gain that access. The ordinary folk are lucky if they get a nod in their direction – and if they can attain access it is only because they can be used and exploited for the powerful one’s gain. In Yeshua’s day it was the P’rushim along with the rulers, the money changers, the politicians, and other religious leaders that you wanted to allow access to your master; people who could enhance your own position. This maybe was the disciples’ motivation to rebuke the masses – for what did they, the common, the “great unwashed” have to offer?
Think about a child. Commentary after commentary tells us the reason Yeshua said we had to come to the Kingdom as a child. Some examples:
24 “The point of the comparison receive the kingdom of God like a child has more to do with a child's trusting spirit and willingness to be dependent and receive from others than any inherent humility the child might possess.” xi
“…What he said. His language includes a special reference to the occasion, and a general statement of a Divine principle. "Suffer the children to come!" "Forbid them not!" How gracious a revelation of the Savior's mind and disposition, and how instructive a lesson for his people! The general principle he enunciates is even more valuable: "Of such is the kingdom of heaven." The reference is doubtless to the dependence and teachable-ness of little children. God's kingdom is composed of childlike natures. The proud, self-sufficient, and self-confident are out of harmony with a spiritual society which recognizes a Divine Head and is governed by Divine laws… (Edited by H.D.M. Spence, D.D., Joseph S. Exell, M.A. The Pulpit Commentary) ”
The ideas expressed in these and other commentaries is this: to enter the Kingdom of God, one must come as a child – having a “trusting spirit and willingness to be dependent”; have “inherent humility”; be “with docility and a humble mind”; exhibit characteristics of “dependence and teachable-ness”… Repeatedly we are told that we must have the attributes of a child to enter the Kingdom. But what if this isn’t correct?
That a child is born dependent is true: their needs must be taken care of by someone outside their sphere. Truthfully though, a child is inherently selfish; he or she wants to be fed, to be changed, to be entertained. Then one day they learn the word “No”. “Independence” begins to arise, even though dependent they still are. Humble? Most children do not even know what a humble spirit is, let alone exhibit such a spirit. Innocent? Yes, to a point. Children lose their innocence the first-time we adults lie to them (“Oh Santa is coming!” “The Easter Bunny brings the eggs!” and countless other lies we tell our children) and they discover the truth (“there is no Santa” “rabbits don’t lay eggs”). We destroy their innocence when we disappoint them, when we begin to introduce the harshness of the real world – hunger, anger, pain, loneliness, indifference, intolerance, unforgiveness… Teachable? Oh yes, the children are little sponges, absorbing all they see and hear – love as well as hate; kindness as well as harshness; anger and malice or tolerance and gentle spirit; despair and joy; acceptance and prejudice. No, little children soon learn their place in the pecking order of the world – they learn to be either cruel or kind to those not like them, they learn that they are either bullied or become bullies. They learn how much power and influence they really have at an early age, how much of a voice they really have. Some fair better than others, yet reality comes crashing into every child’s life eventually – you all know that this is true, for we were all children once.
So, what does Messiah mean, that “…the kingdom of God belongs to such as these...”? It is the hardness of heart that keeps us from the Kingdom, so it is the opposite that allows us in – the broken and contrite heart. A child is truly powerless in the world; a child is truly helpless; a child is truly without a voice. A child has no position, no authority, no sphere of influence. A child has nothing to give to attain these things; nothing they do can sway those that have power to grant them any. This I believe is truly Yeshua’s message, just my opinion, but if you bear with me, I believe Mark 10 will surly prove out my theory that to enter the Kingdom we must be as a child – without power, without the ability to help ourselves; without a voice that can sway.
We now come to our next encounter on this extraordinary day:
17 As he was starting on his way, a man ran up, kneeled down in front of him and asked, “Good rabbi, what should I do to obtain eternal life?” 18 Yeshua said to him, “Why are you calling me good? No one is good except God! 19 You know the mitzvot — ‘Don’t murder, don’t commit adultery, don’t steal, don’t give false testimony, don’t defraud, honor your father and mother, …’”
Matthew 19 records this same exchange:
Matthew 19:16-19 (CEV)
(Mark 10.17-31; Luke 18.18-30)
16 A man came to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to have eternal life?” 17 Jesus said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? Only God is good. If you want to have eternal life, you must obey his commandments.” 18 “Which ones?” the man asked. Jesus answered, “Do not murder. Be faithful in marriage. Do not steal. Do not tell lies about others. 19 Respect your father and mother. And love others as much as you love yourself.”
Notice the first response of Messiah is not to the question but to the person’s addressing Yeshua as “good”. Seemingly to us, it appears to be of little consequence, kind of like how we address a Judge as “Your Honor”; but can we agree on this point, that God puts nothing in His word that doesn’t have a purpose and a meaning behind it?
Think about how many times a day you hear someone, even yourself, blurt out “Jesus Christ!” as a reaction to a situation? How often do we hear someone, ourselves, blurt out “O Christ almighty!” if a situation is getting the better of us? What about “Holy Cow!” or the infamous “God dxxx it!”? We live in a murky world where the sacred is used as the inconsiderate, conventional language of the thoughtless. When we take unwarrantable freedom with the sacred, it shows to not only to ourselves but to those around us and those in the heavenly realms that we are addressing the providence and patience of God Himself with no regard, no sincerity. Hence the rebuke of the Master toward this young ruler about his casual question. Who but God (or the Son of God) could answer such a question, how one may have eternal life? Who but God (or His Son) may be addressed as “good” only?
It was Jewish traditions and teachings that agreed with the Messianic Scriptures that God alone is “good” (1Sa_2:2, Psa_52:1, Psa_145:7-9, Jam_1:17, 1Jo_4:8-10, 1Jo_4:16), thus only He is deserving of the title. Could it have been that Yeshua saw into the young man’s heart, and the hardness it contained? It may be as McGarvey says:
“…As the ruler had not used this language sincerely Jesus challenged his words. The challenge showed the ruler that he had unwittingly confessed the divinity of Jesus, and thus startled him into a consideration of the marvelous fact which his own mouth had stated. This is done because the young man would need to believe in the divinity of Jesus to endure the test to which he was about to be subjected… ( J. W. McGARVEY and PHILIP Y. PENDLETON. The Fourfold Gospel and Commentary on Acts)”
Our own professions, those that come from our lips, have need of contemplation, of consideration of the subject in which we employ our words so that we do not fall into the habit of the language of the thoughtless. The next point that Yeshua makes has to render as unsettled the hearts of those who teach and profess that the Law is done away with:
“…But if you want to enter into life, rkeep the commandments…”
It is here that Yeshua affirms the Torah – that it can save through faith. Paul later confirmed this himself:
2 Timothy 3:14-17 (ESV)
14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it 15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.
And we have seen this same description before:
Psalm 19:8-12 (Complete Jewish Bible)
The Torah of ADONAI is perfect, restoring the inner person. The instruction of ADONAI is sure, making wise the thoughtless. 9(8) The precepts of ADONAI are right, rejoicing the heart. The mitzvah of ADONAI is pure, enlightening the eyes. 10(9) The fear of ADONAI is clean, enduring forever. The rulings of ADONAI are true, they are righteous altogether, 11(10) more desirable than gold, than much fine gold, also sweeter than honey or drippings from the honeycomb.12(11) Through them your servant is warned; in obeying them there is great reward.
And again, the theme is similar when speaking of life and light:
John 1:4-5 (JNT)
3 In him was life, and the life was the light of mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not suppressed it.
“…And when they shall say unto you, “Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep, and that mutter”: should not a people seek unto their Elohim? for the living to the dead? To the Torah and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them. And they shall pass through it, hardly bestead and hungry: and it shall come to pass, that when they shall be hungry, they shall fret themselves, and curse their king and their Elohim, and look upward. And they shall look unto the earth; and behold trouble and darkness, dimness of anguish; and they shall be driven to darkness…”
John 5:39-40 (JNT)
39 You keep examining the Tanakh because you think that in it you have eternal life. Those very Scriptures bear witness to me, 40 but you will not come to me in order to have life!
Deuteronomy 4:1-8 (YLT)
1 ‘And now, Israel, hearken unto the statutes, and unto the judgments which I am teaching you to do, so that ye live, and have gone in, and possessed the land which Jehovah God of your fathers is giving to you. 2Ye do not add to the word which I am commanding you, nor diminish from it, to keep the commands of Jehovah your God which I am
commanding you. 3 ‘Your eyes are seeing that which Jehovah hath done in Baal-Peor, for every man who hath gone
after Baal-Peor, Jehovah thy God hath destroyed him from thy midst; 4and ye who are cleaving to Jehovah your God, are alive, all of you, today. 5 ‘See, I have taught you statutes and judgments, as Jehovah my God hath commanded
me—to do so, in the midst of the land whither ye are going in to possess it; 6and ye have kept and done them (for it is
your wisdom and your understanding) before the eyes of the peoples who hear all these statutes, and they have said,
Only, a people wise and understanding is this great nation. 7 ‘For which is the great nation that hath God near unto
it, as Jehovah our God, in all we have called unto him? 8and which is the great nation which hath righteous statutes and judgments according to all this law which I am setting before you to-day?
Psalm 119:1-16 (Tanakh, JPS)
119 Happy are those whose way is blameless, who follow the teaching of the Lord.
2 Happy are those who observe His decrees, who turn to Him wholeheartedly.
3 They have done no wrong but have followed His ways.
4 You have commanded that Your precepts be kept diligently.
5 Would that my ways were firm in keeping Your laws,
6 Then I would not be ashamed when I regard all Your commandments.
7 I will praise You with a sincere heart as I learn Your just rules.
8 I will keep Your laws; do not utterly forsake me.
9 How can a young man keep his way pure? — by holding to Your word.
10 I have turned to You with all my heart; do not let me stray from Your commandments.
11 In my heart I treasure Your promise; therefore, I do not sin against You.
12 Blessed are You, O Lord; train me in Your laws.
13 With my lips I rehearse all the rules You proclaimed.
14 I rejoice over the way of Your decrees as over-all riches.
15 I study Your precepts; I regard Your ways,
16 I take delight in Your laws; I will not neglect Your word.
John 1:6-18 (CJB)
6 There was a man sent from God whose name was Yochanan (author’s note: John). 7 He came to be a testimony, to bear witness concerning the light; so that through him, everyone might put his trust in God and be faithful to him. 8 He himself was not that light; no, he came to bear witness concerning the light. 9 This was the true light, which gives light to everyone entering the world. 10 He was in the world—the world came to be through him— yet the
world did not know him. 11 He came to his own homeland, yet his own people did not receive him. 12 But to as many as did receive him, to those who put their trust in his person and power, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 not because of bloodline, physical impulse or human intention, but because of God. 14 The Word became a human being and lived with us, and we saw his Sh’khinah, the Sh’khinah of the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth. 15 Yochanan witnessed concerning him when he cried out, “This is the man I was talking about when I said, ‘The one coming after me has come to rank ahead of me, because he existed before me.’ ” 16 We have all received from his fullness, yes, grace upon grace. 17 For the Torah was given through Moshe; grace and truth came through Yeshua the Messiah. 18 No one has ever seen God; but the only and unique Son, who is identical with God and is at the Father’s side—he has made him known.
So, if the Torah could save, then why the need of Messiah? Why do the Jews wait for a Messiah (or more appropriately for the Jewish people, Mashiach, because they hold that the term “Messiah” has been “hi-jacked” by the Christians) if they have no need of a redeemer? The answer for this goes beyond the scope of this epistle; volumes could be written in answer to this question, but here is a generalization of the most common explanations:
• The idea of mashiach (messiah) is an ancient one in Judaism.
• The Jewish idea of mashiach is a great human leader like King David, not necessarily a savior, though there are many differing opinions among the sages of Israel.
• There is much speculation about when the mashiach will come.
• The Bible identifies several tasks that the mashiach will accomplish.
• Jews do not believe in Jesus because he did not accomplish these tasks (among many other objections).
As I said previously, each of these themes can be developed more extensively, yet this is not the forum for that today, except to comment on the last point. The main overwhelming reason that the Jews do not believe in Jesus as their Mashiach today is because of Christianity and its bloody history against the Jewish people.
The Jewish people gave us, the Gentiles, the faith that was given once for all, the Holy Scriptures and our Mashiach. What did the Christian give in return? Almost 1,900 years of bloodshed, betrayal, torture, and indifference. A pastor once asked a rabbi why Judaism had no problems with Jews who converted to Buddhism but basically disowns any Jew who believes in Yeshua as Mashiach… What was the rabbi’s reply?
“Buddha never tried to kill us.”
Christian anti-Semitism is just one of the reasons for the Jew failing to recognize his Mashiach. According to the Messianic Writings though, the main reason is of them having been blinded in part from Yahveh, for the hardness of their hearts, till He is ready to reveal their Savior, their Mashiach, to them. It is not anyone’s’ doing, even though blame does exist, and it cannot be changed in our time. It is an act of the Almighty King of Heaven that will play out it its proper time. Some say it is an act of anti-Semitism if we do not try to “convince” or “convert” the Jew to believe in Yeshua; I say that is not any’s job. What is important is the need to show love and mercy, with compassion and tolerance till the day God removes the veil.
Here is the point I am trying to make. Yeshua did not say “ keep the commandments and believe in me”, at least not yet. He said keep the commandments. Obedience to God and His word, His statues, ordinances, and mitzvoth; these can lead to eternal life. But there is more…
Mark 10:20-21 (CEV)
20 The man answered, “Teacher, I have obeyed all these commandments since I was a young man.”
21 Jesus looked closely at the man. He liked him and said, “There’s one thing you still need to do. Go sell everything you own. Give the money to the poor, and you will have riches in heaven. Then come with me.”
Not only was the law to be upheld, but a change of heart was necessary. Could the young ruler give up his status, his earthly possessions? Could eternal life in the world to come mean more than what was acquired down below? His response was his answer…
Mark 10:22-24 (YLT)
22And he—gloomy at the word—went away sorrowing, for he was having many possessions. 23And Jesus having looked round, saith to his disciples, ‘How hardly shall they who have riches enter into the reign of God!’ 24And the
disciples were astonished at his words, and Jesus again answering saith to them, ‘Children, how hard is it to those trusting on the riches to enter into the reign of God! 25It is easier for a camel through the eye of the needle to enter, than for a rich man to enter into the reign of God.’
One commentary breaks it down as this:
“…10:22 The words “great wealth” probably refer to estates. This is the only example in Mark of someone being called to discipleship but refusing. Not only did the man go away sad, but many of those who have read the account over the years have also been saddened. In fact, this verse has been described as the saddest in the Bible. 10:23 The event became the occasion for a brief discourse. Jesus’ statement must be contrasted with the Jewish attitude toward riches. The dominant Jewish view was that riches were an indication of divine favor and a reward for piety (Job 1:10; 42:10; Ps 128:1–2; Isa 3:10). Although provision was made for the protection and assistance of the poor (Deut 15:7– 11; Prov 22:22–23), rarely was poverty associated with piety. The Psalms sometimes picture the poor as the righteous who rely on God for aid (Pss 37:14, 16; 69:32–33; 86:1–2). The Psalms frequently portray God as the special help of the poor. Especially during the Maccabean period (142–63 B.C.), the rich became associated with the priestly aristocracy ready to compromise with foreign oppressors; the poor, with those who remained faithful to God (cf. T. Jud. 25:4; Pss.
Sol. 10:6). The Qumran community apparently used “the poor” as a self-designation (1 QM 11:9, 13; 13:14; 1QH 5:13– 22, in which “the poor” parallels those eager for righteousness; 1QpHab 12:3, 6, 10; 4QpPs 2:9–10; 3:10).
The teaching of Jesus was nonetheless revolutionary in its time and remains scandalous even today. However, Jesus did not condemn riches as evil in themselves. They are a temptation, a hindrance, a diversion. They provide false security that makes radical trust in God difficult…”
Even the disciples were taken aback, as they asked the question:
“…Then who can be saved?” r
Indeed. Think about this for a moment. Do not all men secretly or publicly long to be rich, or at least very well off? This world is cruel. If you have money, you can get by – if not, then it is a day-to-day grind. The poor have not, the rich have it all – all except the comfort of peace because even the rich want more and are afraid of losing what they have. The poor have not – but do not think that this makes them content. Even they want more and are in fear of losing what little they have. One commentator puts it this way:
“…Even Matthew records the shocked condition of the disciples as does Mark. The imperfect ἐξεπλήσσοντο pictures their condition, and the verb, which is often strengthened by the adverb, is extraordinarily strong: “they continued utterly dumbfounded.” Note that πρὸς αὐτόν is unusual in Mark after λέγω, but thus, is the more likely to be the correct reading, and note πρὸς ἑαυτούς, “to themselves.” Καί at the head of a statement connects with a previously expressed idea. Here it is the impossibility of a rich man entering the kingdom and adds: “And who can be saved?” R. 1182. The sense is: “And then nobody can be saved!” i.e., what Jesus says cannot be true…” (Brooks, J. A. (1991). New American Commentary: Mark (Vol. 23, pp. 163–164).
Even the emotions of the disciples reveal a truth: even they long for more. Thus, a sin, a secret sin may have been revealed in the heart of the disciples, as well as in all of us. The hardness of our hearts show: we covet. Coveting in and itself is not a sin, if the desire is aimed at the things of God, for the word directs us to ask for more of the spiritual things:
James 1:2-8 (JNT)
2 Regard it all as joy, my brothers, when you face various kinds of temptations; 3 for you know that the testing of your trust produces perseverance. 4 But let perseverance do its complete work; so that you may be complete and whole, lacking in nothing. 5 Now if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives to all generously and without
reproach: and it will be given to him. 6 But let him ask in trust, doubting nothing; for the doubter is like a wave in the sea being tossed and driven by the wind. 7 Indeed that person should not think that he will receive anything from the Lord, 8 because he is double-minded, unstable in all his ways.
It is when we covet the “more”, even if we think our reasons are unselfish, that we get into trouble. Here, the disciples have another thought, another process in their growth toward becoming the men He (Yeshua) needs them to be, revealed in their hearts. Upon the revelation comes the sobering fact that only God can save. It is here, my Christian brethren say, that my Jewish brethren stumble. They (the Jews) have all heard from countless “well meaning” Christians that they must come to Yeshua to be saved; yet, for the religious Jew, this is tantamount to blasphemy. Now I am not going to go into the reasons, or the countless arguments on the Christian side concerning this matter. If you want to do the research yourselves on this matter, the web is full of sites that articulate each side’s positions. The gulf between Jew and Gentile is enormous; this puts truth in the answer of Yeshua to His disciples:
27And Jesus, having looked upon them, saith,
‘With men it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God.’
If we can agree on nothing else, may we agree on this one point: only the Elohim of Heaven can save.
Depending upon your point of view of whether YHVH saves through the Torah, or His Son Yeshua, only
Elohim can save. However, El accomplishes this, one thing is clear: in both the Tanakh and the B’rit Hadashah it is Mashiach that will restore Israel to its land, and the covenant people of God to their Elohim once more. I know I have my view on this – you may have another. What is important that we all are reaching for the prize, the return of the Sovereign of heaven to redeem a sick and dying world, a world where all have sinned and fall short of His glory, a world that needs its Redeemer. Jew and Gentile alike have sinned, and neither can claim superiority over the other. Leviticus (Vayikra) 17:8-11 tells us what brings atonement:
8Say to them further: If anyone of the house of Israel or of the strangers who reside among them offers a burnt offering or a sacrifice, 9and does not bring it to the entrance of the Tent of Meeting to offer it to the LORD, that person shall be cut off from his people. 11And if anyone of the house of Israel or of the strangers who reside among them partakes of any blood, I will set My face against the person who partakes of the blood, and I will cut him off from among his kin. 11For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have assigned it to you for making expiation for your lives upon the altar; it is the blood, as life, that effects expiation.
The B’rit Hadashah in Hebrews 9 tells us:
“…9 1 Now the first covenant had both regulations for worship and a Holy Place here on earth. 2 A tent was set up, the outer one, which was called the Holy Place; in it were the menorah, the table, and the Bread of the Presence. Behind the second parokhetxliii was a tent called the Holiest Place, 4 which had the golden altar for burning incense and the Ark of the Covenant, entirely covered with gold. In the Ark were the gold jar containing the man, Aharon’s (Aaron’s) rod that sprouted and the stone Tablets of the Covenant; 5 and above it were the k’ruvim (Cherubim) representing the Sh’khinah (Shekinah) casting their shadow on the lid of the Ark—but now is not the time to discuss these things in detail. 6 With things so arranged, the Cohanim (Priests)go into the outer tent all the time to discharge their duties; 7 but only the cohen hagadol (The High Priest) enters the inner one; and he goes in only once a year, and he must always bring blood, which he offers both for himself and for the sins committed in ignorance by the people. 8 By this arrangement, the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) showed that so long as the first Tent had standing, the way into the Holiest Place was still closed. 9 This symbolizes the resent age and indicates that the conscience of the person performing the service cannot be brought to the goal by the gifts and sacrifices he offers. 10 For they involve only food and drink and various ceremonial washings—regulations concerning the outward life, imposed until the time for God to reshape the whole structure. 11 But when the Messiah appeared as cohen gadol of the good things that are happening already, then, through the greater and more perfect Tent which is not man-made (that is, it is not of this created world), 12 he entered the Holiest Place once and for all. And he entered not by means of the blood of goats and calves, but by means of his own blood, thus setting people free forever. 13 For if sprinkling ceremonially unclean persons with the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer restores their outward purity; 14 then how much more the blood of the Messiah, who, through the eternal Spirit, offered himself to God as a sacrifice without blemish, will purify our conscience from works that lead to death, so that we can serve the living God! 15 It is because of this death that he is mediator of a new covenant [or will]. Because a death has occurred which sets people free from the transgressions committed under the first covenant, those who have been called may receive the promised eternal inheritance. 16 For where there is a will, there must necessarily be produced evidence of its maker’s death, 17 since a will goes into effect only upon death; it never has force while its maker is still alive. 18 This is why the first covenant too was inaugurated with blood. 19 After Moshe had proclaimed every command of the Torah to all the people, he took the blood of the calves with some water and used scarlet wool and hyssop to sprinkle both the scroll itself and all the people; 20 and he said, “This is the blood of the covenant which God has ordained for you.”h 21 Likewise, he sprinkled with the blood both the Tent and all the things used in its ceremonies. 22 In fact, according to the Torah, almost everything is purified with blood; indeed, without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins. 23 Now this is how the copies of the heavenly things had to be purified, but the heavenly things themselves require better sacrifices than these. 24 For the Messiah has entered a Holiest Place which is not man-made and merely a copy of the true one, but into heaven itself, in order to appear now on our behalf in the very presence of God. 25 Further, he did not enter heaven to offer himself over and over again, like the cohen hagadol who enters the Holiest Place year after year with blood that is not his own; 26 for then he would have had to suffer death many times—from the founding of the universe on. But as it is, he has appeared once at the end of the ages in order to do away with sin through the sacrifice of himself. 27 Just as human beings have to die once, but after this comes judgment, 28 so also the Messiah, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin, but to deliver those who are eagerly waiting for him…”
My Jewish brethren: it is true only blood atones. Your own Tanakh says this. Remission of sin is only by blood, that is how ALL are saved. Good deeds, no matter how you do them or the motivation behind them count not for us, only blood; the good deeds YHVH expects from us follow atonement. Please consider, just once, consider the blood. Maybe to you the blood of countless Jews split over the course of 1,900 years fulfills the word of God; or ponder perhaps it was just one lone Jew upon a Roman execution stake that satisfied the Law’s decree; either way, let us, Gentile and Jew, understand that it was and is Jewish blood that made atonement for us all. That is all I ask, for you to just consider and for Gentiles to humbly bow their heads and weep and offer up to HaShem a prayer of repentance and to seek forgiveness for the spilt blood on our own hands.
…Forgive us, O brethren of Israel, forgive us…
Our next lesson comes from verses 28-31 of Mark 10:
28 Kefa [Author’s note(s): Peter] began saying to him, “Look, we have left everything and followed you.” 29 Yeshua said,
“Yes! I tell you that there is no one who has left house, brothers, sisters, mother, father, children or fields, for my sake and for the sake of the Good News, 30 who will not receive a hundred times over, now, in the ‛olam hazeh [this
world] , homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and lands — with persecutions! — and in the ‛olam haba [the world to come], eternal life. 31 But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first!”
In Mattai (Matthew)19:27 Peter’s statement is a bit different:
Matthew 19:27 (ESV)
27 Then Peter said in reply, “See, we have left everything and followed you. What then will we have?”
Was it a hardness of the heart that asked the question “what shall we have therefore?” No, this I do not believe. Think of the apostles; these ordinary men thrust into the first stage of the greatest cosmic play ever. Is it hard to see them as just ordinary men? We have no idea of their ages; were they young? John yes, he was the youngest, by some only a boy in his teens. What of the rest? Some points to consider:
• The temple tax
In Exodus 30:14-15, Jewish law states that every male over the age of 20 is to pay a half-shekel as census offering when they visit the temple of God. In Matthew 17:24-27, Jesus instructs Peter to “fish up” this tax. Peter finds a shekel in the mouth of the fish he catches; enough to pay the tax for two men, himself, and Jesus. You could conclude that the others were underage and did not need to pay.
• The use of the term “little ones”
In Matthew 11:25, Luke 10:21, and John 13:33, Jesus calls his disciples little children; a bit insulting if they were adults.
• They were unmarried
We learn that Peter had a wife when Jesus healed his mother-in-law (Matthew 8:14-15). In those ancient times, a Jewish man receives a wife after the age of 18. Again, no other disciples’ wives are mentioned. You could deduce then, that they were unmarried, hence under the age of 18 [albeit, this is only my conjecture and/or opinion, though there are others that may hold equally to this view].
• The education system of Israel at the time of Jesus
In Avot 5 (from the Mishnah: rabbinical commentary that was added to the Old Testament), we learn of the ancient
Jewish education traditions: scripture study begins at age 5; Mishnah study at 10; Torah obligations at 13; continued rabbinical study at 15 if chosen to be tutored by a formal teacher or apprenticed to a trade; marriage at 18; formal teaching at 30.
Jewish children began intensive study at young ages, but education for most concluded by age 15. For those bright (or wealthy) enough, higher education consisted of studying under a local rabbi, and if they were distinguished, they could begin teaching at the age of 30. If they did not find a rabbi that accepted them as a student (much like a college entrance application), then they entered the workforce by their mid-teens. The disciples, already working at their trades, might have been rejected for formal education by other rabbis when Jesus hand-picked them for further education as his disciples. In light of this, a younger age is more probable than older. A youth would be in the mindset of continuing his education. A man over 30 leaving his trade to follow a rabbi would be counter-cultural; not impossible (Jesus was definitely counter-cultural), but more likely they were younger than older.
The only possible exception to this of course is Matthew, who worked as a tax collector for the Romans. It remains to be seen at what age the Romans would have considered appropriate for their collectors, but an educated guess would be around 20-25 (maybe over 30 but there is no real indication of the actual age).
So, the question of Peter is not out of line. If Yeshua called these men/boys away from their families, from their learning of a trade that would support their extended family situation, is it any wonder he would ask “…what shall we have therefore?”
…And at this question, let us break…
This has become a long study brethren: we have to break it up into (hopefully) two parts…
…Till next time, may Yahveh richly bless you all my beloved, Amein…