Monday, October 15, 2018

Devotional: Too Difficult, But Really Easy, Mark 10:1-31

Mark 10.1-31 outline

In chapter 10 Jesus continues teaching the disciples to correct their misunderstandings about who Jesus was, what he was doing and what his kingdom is like. In this section are two scenes (1-12 and 17-22) in which Jesus is asked to give a ruling about the law bracketing a short section (13-16) in which Jesus blesses and welcomes children and rebukes the disciples for trying to block them from his presence. Then Jesus drives his point home (23-31) as he explains the main point of the section: Salvation (entrance and living in God’s kingdom)  is very difficult, actually impossible, by human effort but easy for God to accomplish when we are totally dependent on him.

In the two law sections Jesus increases the requirements of the law in response to questioners who were looking to find loopholes that would make their commitment easier. Underlying the law is God’s design for relationships that requires one’s whole person to be focused on loving God, resulting in human relationships focused on loving and serving one another. Thus, marriage is not just a social transaction but is a lifetime relationship commitment, the breaking of which is always the result of sin (of at least one of the parties). Our possessions are not our own but, instead, they all belong to God and are to be used by us for advancing his kingdom and serving God’s people. Jesus raises the commitment requirement to be in his kingdom to such a high standard no human could possibly do it by his/her own effort.

The key is the middle section. Being part of Jesus’ kingdom does not happen through anything we do. It happens when we come to God like children, with total dependence on him and on what he has provided in Jesus Christ. Our efforts to make ourselves acceptable to God will always come up short. Goodness, access to God, and salvation only come as a gift from God through Jesus. In this way salvation, for us, is easy.

But salvation is also very difficult. Receiving the gift of God in Jesus requires us to deny ourselves, repent of our hope and trust in our own abilities and goodness, relinquish all of our possessions as belonging to us and there primarily for our use, and submit to God’s rule over every part of our life. Peter rashly responds, “we have left everything and followed you (ESV 10:28). Surprisingly, Peter gets no rebuke here. Instead he gets a grace-filled promise. Whatever, you give up for Jesus and the kingdom you will get back one hundred times as much “now in this time” and eternal life in the age to come. But even this will not be easy. It comes with persecution and difficulty as Jesus will demonstrate in his passion.

This is the paradox of salvation. It is easy because nothing is impossible for God to do and he has done everything needed in Christ to accomplish it. We receive it as a gift. Salvation is difficult because it calls us to give up everything we have to God. Salvation is easy because it comes with great blessing. Salvation is hard and painful because it come with persecution. But, overshadowing all of that is that salvation provides life forever in God’s presence.

No comments: