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Ch. 10:1 12 . Marriage Legislation of the Pharisees
1. And ] Between the events just recorded and those of which the Evangelist now proceeds to treat, many others had occurred, which he has passed over. The most important of these were
( α ) The visit of our Lord to Jerusalem at the Feast of Tabernacles (John 7:8-10 ), which was marked by
(a) The rebuke of the “Sons of Thunder” at the churlish conduct of the inhabitants of a Samaritan village on their way to the Holy City (Luke 9:51-56 );
(b) Solemn discourses during the Feast, and an attempt of the Sanhedrim to apprehend Him (John 7:11-51 , John 8:12-59 );
(c) The opening of the eyes of one born blind (John 9:1-41 ), the revelation of Himself as the Good Shepherd (John 10:1-18 );
( β ) Ministrations in Judæa and Mission of the Seventy (Luke 10 13:17.);
( γ ) Visit to Jerusalem at the Feast of Dedication (John 10:22-39 );
( δ ) Tour in Peræa (Luke 13:22-17:10 );
( ε ) The raising of Lazarus (John 11:1-46 );
( ζ ) Resolve of the Sanhedrim to put Him to death, and His retirement to Ephraim (John 11:47-54 ).
he arose ] The place, whither He now retired, has been identified with Ophrah, and was situated in the wide desert country north-east of Jerusalem, not far from Bethel, and on the confines of Samaria. Caspari would identify it with a place now called El-Faria, or El-Farah, about 2 hours N. E. of Nablous. Chron. and Geog. Introd . p. 185. Here in quiet and seclusion He remained till the approach of the last Passover, and then commenced a farewell journey along the border-line of Samaria and Galilee (Luke 17:11 ) and so by the further side of Jordan towards Judæa (Mark 10:1 ).
he taught them again ] Portions of His teaching are recorded by St Luke, and include the Parables of ( a ) the Unjust Judge , and ( b ) the Pharisee and the Publican (Luke 18:1-14 ). On the frontier of the region now traversed occurred in all probability the Healing of the ten lepers (Luke 17:12-19 ).
2. Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife ] “for every cause?” as St Matthew adds (Matthew 19:3 ). On this point the rival schools of Hillel and Shammai were divided, the former adopting the more lax, the latter the stricter view: the one holding that any dislike , which he felt towards her, would justify a man in putting away his wife; the other, that only notorious unchastity could be a sufficient reason. It has also been suggested that the object of the question may have been to involve Him with the adulterous tetrarch, in whose territory He was.
7. For this cause ] He thus shews that from the beginning God had designed that the marriage tie should be the closest and most indissoluble of all ties, and in the words added by St Matthew (19:9) rebukes the adultery of Herod Antipas, though without naming him, in the severest terms.
9. What therefore God ] In Genesis 2:24 these are the words of Adam; in St Matthew 19:4 the words of God; in St Mark the words of Christ. They are words of Adam as uttering prophetically a Divine, fundamental, ordinance; they are words of God as being eternally valid; they are words of Christ, as rules for Christian life re-established by Him, Who “adorned and beautified” the holy estate of matrimony with His presence and first miracle at Cana of Galilee.
10. in the house ] St Mark records several confidential household words of our Lord to His disciples, e.g. concerning ( a ) the power of casting out demons (9:28, 29); ( b ) the great in the kingdom of heaven (9:33 37); and ( c ) here, the Christian law of marriage.
13 16. Suffer little Children to come unto Me
13. they brought ] These probably were certain parents, who honoured Him and valued His benediction. The “children” in St Mark and St Matthew are “infants” in St Luke 18:15 .
that he should touch them ] or, as St Matthew adds, that he should lay his hands upon them and pray for them (19:13). Hebrew mothers were accustomed in this manner to seek a blessing for their children from the presidents of the synagogues, who were wont to lay their hands upon them. “After the father of the child,” says the Talmud, “had laid his hands on his child’s head, he led him to the elders one by one, and they also blessed him, and prayed that he might grow up famous in the Law, faithful in marriage, and abundant in good works.”
14. he was much displeased ] This feature is peculiar to St Mark. Only lately the Lord had expressed His love towards little children in a very remarkable manner (Mark 9:36 , Mark 9:37 ).
of such ] Rather, to such belongs the Kingdom of God. He says not of these, but of such: shewing that it is not children only, but the disposition of children which obtains the kingdom, and that to such as have the like innocence and simplicity the reward is promised.
16. took them up in his arms ] He ever giveth more than men ask or think. He had been asked only to touch the children. He takes them into His arms, lays His Hands upon them, and blesses them. Twice we read of our Lord taking into His arms , and both times they were children whom He embraced, and both times the scenes are recorded only by St Mark (9:36, 10:16).
blessed them ] Rather, He blesses them , according to some MSS. The present tense is in keeping with the graphic style of the Evangelist.
17 31. The Rich Young Ruler
17 . when he was gone forth ] Literally, when He was going forth. He was just starting, it would seem, on His last journey towards Bethany.
one ] He was young (Matthew 19:22 ), of great wealth, and a ruler of a local synagogue (Luke 18:18 ).
running ] Running up to Him, apparently from behind, eager and breathless. Then he knelt before Him, as was usual before a venerated Rabbi.
what shall I do ] He had probably observed our Lord’s gracious reception of little children, and he desired to have part in the Kingdom promised to them. But his question betrays his fundamental error. Not by doing , but by being , was an entrance into it to be obtained.
18. Why callest thou me good? ] The emphasis is on the “why.” “Dost thou know what thou meanest, when thou givest Me this appellation?” If we combine the question and rejoinder as given by St Matthew and St Luke it would seem to have run, Why askest thou Me about the good? and why callest thou Me good? None is good save One, God . Our Lord does not decline the appellation “good.” He repels it only in the superficial sense of the questioner, who regarded Him merely as a “good Rabbi.”
19. Thou knowest the commandments ] The young man is referred to the Commandments of the Second Table only, and they are cited generally from Exodus 20:12-17 . A striking instance of the free mode of quotation from the Old Testament even in such a case as the Ten Commandments.
Defraud not ] The word thus rendered occurs in 1 Corinthians 6:7 , 1 Corinthians 6:8 , 1 Corinthians 6:7 :5; 1 Timothy 6:5 ; James 5:4 . It means deprive none of what is theirs , and has been thought to sum up the four Commandments which precede.
Honour thy father and mother ] Rendered by Wyclif “ worschippe pi fadir and modir,” which illustrates the meaning of the word as used in the Marriage Service, “with my body I thee worship ” = honour. St Mark places this commandment at the end.
20. all these have I observed ] adding, according to St Matthew, what lack I yet? We are told that when the Angel of Death came to fetch the R. Chanina, he said, “Go and fetch me the Book of the Law, and see whether there is anything in it which I have not kept .” Farrar’s Life of Christ , ii. 161, n.
21. beholding him ] The same word, which occurs also in v . 27, in the original is applied ( a ) to the Baptist, when he “ looked upon Jesus ,” and said, “Behold the Lamb of God” (John 1:36 ), ( b ) to our Lord’s look at St peter (i) when He named him Cephas (John 1:42 ), and (ii) when He turned and looked upon him just before the cock crew for the second time (Luke 22:61 ).
loved him ] Literally, esteemed him , or was pleased with him , for His Eye penetrated his inmost being, and saw within him an honest striving after better things, and the noblest form of life. Lightfoot remarks that the Jewish Rabbis were wont to kiss the head of such pupils as answered well. Some gesture at least we may believe that our Lord used to shew that the young man pleased Him, both by his question and by his answer.
One thing thou lackest ] He thus proposed to him one short crucial test of his real condition, and way to clearer self-knowledge. He had fancied himself willing to do whatever could be required: he could now see if he were really so.
take up the cross, and follow me ] See ch. 8:34. But some MSS. omit the words. “Poor, friendless, outlawed, Jesus abated no jot of His awful claims, loftier than human monarch had ever dreamed of making, on all who sought citizenship in His Kingdom.”
22. he was sad ] “ Sorrowful ,” says St Matthew (19:22); “ very sorrowful ,” says St Luke (18:23); “sad,” says St Mark, or rather lowring , with a cloud upon his brow. The original word only occurs in one other place, Matthew 16:3 , “for the sky is red and lowring .”
he had great possessions ] and these he preferred to possessions in heaven, and made, as Dante calls it, “the great refusal!” “Yet within a few months,” to quote the words of Keble, “hundreds in Jerusalem remembered and obeyed this saying of our Lord, and brought their goods, and laid them at the Apostles’ feet” (Acts 4:34-37 ).
23. looked round about ] “Sæpe describitur vultus Christi, affectui conveniens, et affectibus auditorum attemperatus.” Bengel. Comp. Mark 3:5 , Mark 3:34 , Mark 3:8 :34; Luke 6:10 , Luke 22:61 .
24. Children ] By this affectionate title He softens the sadness and sternness of His words.
for them that trust in riches ] Some important MSS. omit these words, and then the verse would run, “Children, how hard it is to enter into the kingdom of God.”
25. It is easier for a camel ] This figure has been variously interpreted. ( a ) Some have rendered it an “anchor-rope,” as though the word was “ kamilon ” and not “ kamelon; ” ( b ) others think it refers to the side gate for foot passengers, close by the principal gate, called in the East the “eye of a needle;” but ( c ) it is best to understand the words literally. Similar proverbs are common in the Talmud.
28. and have followed thee ] adding, as St Matthew relates, “what shall we have therefore?” In reply to which our Lord uttered glorious words respecting the Twelve Thrones to be occupied by the Apostles “in the Regeneration,” or “restoration of all things” (Matthew 19:28 ).
30. with persecutions ] An important limitation. See 2 Corinthians 12:10 ; 2 Thessalonians 1:4 ; 2 Timothy 3:11 .
31. many that are first ] Very signally was the former part of this verse fulfilled temporarily in the case of St peter himself, finally in that of Judas; while the latter part was wonderfully realised in the instance of St Paul, so that this passage is chosen for the Gospel of the Festival of “the Conversion of St Paul.” It was now that, to impress upon His hearers the important lesson that entrance into the kingdom of heaven is not a matter of mercenary calculation, our Lord delivered the memorable Parable of the Labourers in the Vineyard (Matthew 20:1-16 ).
32 34. Predictions of the Passion
32. they were in the way ] Our Lord would seem to have now descended from Ephraim to the high road in order to join the caravans of Galilæan pilgrims going up to Jerusalem. St Mark gives a special prominence to this critical period in His human history: He describes ( a ) the prophetic elevation and solemnity of soul which He displayed; ( b ) His advancing before them as the destined Sufferer, ( c ) the awe of the disciples as they followed Him.
and Jesus went before them ] “After the manner of some leader who heartens his soldiers by choosing the place of danger for himself.” Trench, Studies , p. 216.
and as they followed ] Or, according to the better reading, and they that followed, as though there were two bands of the Apostles, of whom one went foremost, while the others had fallen behind. “There are few pictures in the Gospel more striking than this of Jesus going forth to His death, and walking alone along the path into the deep valley, while behind Him, in awful reverence, and mingled anticipations of dread and hope their eyes fixed on Him, as with bowed head He preceded them in all the majesty of sorrow the disciples walked behind and dared not disturb His meditations.” Farrar, Life , ii. p. 179.
And he took again ] This was for the third time. The two previous occasions are described in ( a ) Mark 8:31 , in the neighbourhood of Cæsarea Philippi, just after St Peter’s confession, and ( b ) Mark 9:30-32 , shortly afterwards, during the return to Capernaum. The particulars are now more full and more clear than ever before. St Matthew (20:17) distinctly tells us that this mournful communication was made privately to the Apostles.
34. and shall kill him ] Or, as St Matthew adds, “ crucify Him .” Now for the first time is revealed this last, this greatest horror (see Matthew 20:19 ). St Luke lays stress upon the fact that the disciples would not and could not understand His words (Luke 18:34 ). This absence of all sympathy was one of His greatest trials.
35 45. The Ambitious Apostles
35. James and John ] and with them their mother Salome, to ask the same favour on their behalf. She was one of the constant attendants of our Lord, and now falling on her knees preferred her request (Matthew 20:10 ). Nothing could have been more ill-timed than this selfish petition when He was going forth to His death.
37. that we may sit ] The mention of Thrones (Matthew 19:28 ), as in reversion for the Twelve at the coming of their Master in glory, may have suggested the idea to the aspiring Three. This session on the right hand and on the left was a Jewish form of expression for being next to the king in honour.
39. And they said unto him, We can ] They knew not at the time what they said, and their words were recorded in heaven. They had yet to learn how serious their words were, and afterwards they were enabled to drink of that Cup, and to be baptized with that Baptism. To St James was given strength to be steadfast unto death, and be the first martyr of the Apostolic band (Acts 12:2 ); to St John ( a ) to bear bereavement, first, of his brother, then of the other Apostles; ( b ) to bear a length of years in loneliness and exile in sea-girt Patmos (Revelation 1:9 ); and ( c ) then to die last of the Apostles, as St James first.
the cup ] Comp. John 18:11 , “ The cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?” and Mark 14:36 , “Take away this cup from me.” Their thoughts were fastened on thrones and high places; His on a Cup of Suffering and a baptism of blood. For this use of the word “baptism” here, compare Luke 12:50 , “I have a baptism to be baptized with.”
40. but it shall be given ] This is not a very happy interpolation. The verse really runs thus: But to sit on My right hand and on My left hand is not mine to give except to those for whom it is prepared. To “give” here denotes to give, as of mere favour; to lavish out of caprice, as in kingdoms of the world. “The throne,” says one of old, “is the prize of toils, not a grace granted to ambition.”
41. began to be much displeased ] “hadden endignacioun,” Wyclif. The sons of Zebedee had been in a better social position than most of their brethren, and this attempt to secure a pre-eminence of honour kindled a storm of jealousy.
42. which ] Commonly used at the time our translation was made for the relative “ who ,” and applied to persons, from the A.-S. hwilc, Mœso-Goth. hwêleiks , literally, who-like . Comp. Latimer’s Sermons , p. 331, “Whosoever loveth God, will love his neighbour, which is made after the image of God.” See Bible Word-Book , p. 528.
are accounted ] = those “who profess to exercise rule,” those who have the reputation of being governors. “Qui censentur imperare; i. e. quos gentes habent et agnoscunt, quorum imperio pareant.” Beza.
exercise lordship ] The word is used in an unfavourable sense. It is applied in Acts 19:16 to the man possessed with an evil spirit prevailing against and overcoming the seven sons of Sceva. St Peter himself uses it in his first Epistle (5:3), recalling possibly this very incident, where he warns the elders of the Church “not to be lords over God’s heritage,” or as it is in the margin, “ to overrule. ” The preposition in the original is emphatic, and gives the force of oppressive, tyrannical rule, where the ruler uses his rights for the diminution of the ruled and the exaltation of himself. The same unfavourable sense attaches to the word rendered “ exercise authority, ” which only occurs here and in the parallel in Matthew 20:25 .
45. and to give his life ] We have here one of the early intimations of the mysterious purport of the Passion, that the Redeemer was about to give His life as a ransom for many (1 Timothy 2:6 ). The word translated “ransom” only occurs here and in the parallel, Matthew 20:28 . Wyclif renders it “and yyue his soule, or lyf , redempcioun, or ayen-biyng , for manye.” The three great circles of images, which the Scriptures employ when they represent to us the purport of the death of Christ, are ( a ) a sin-offering, or propitiation (1 John 2:2 , 1 John 4:10 ); ( b ) reconciliation (= at-one-ment ) with an offended friend (Romans 5:11 , Romans 5:11 :15; 2 Corinthians 5:18 , 2 Corinthians 5:19 ); ( c ), as here, redemption from slavery (Romans 3:24 ; Ephesians 1:7 ; Colossians 1:14 ).
46 52. Passing through Jericho. Blind Bartimæus
46. And they came ] Leaving behind them the upland pastures of Peræa, the little company travelled along the road which led down to the sunken channel of the Jordan, and the luxuriant “district” of Jericho.
to Jericho ] This ancient stronghold of the Canaanites, taken by Joshua (2:6), founded for the second time under Hiel the Bethelite (1 Kings 16:34 ), visited by Elisha and Elijah before the latter “went up by a whirlwind into heaven” (2 Kings 2:4-15 ) was still in the days of Christ surrounded by towers and castles. Two of them lay in ruins since the time of Pompeius, but “Kypros, the last fortress built by Herod the Great, who had called it after his mother, rose white in the sun on the south of the town.… The great palace of Herod, in the far-famed groves of palms, had been plundered and burnt down in the tumults that followed his death, but in its place a still grander structure, built by Archelaus, had arisen amidst still finer gardens, and more copious and delightful streams. A grand theatre and spacious circus, built by Herod, scandalized the Jews, while a great stone aqueduct of eleven arches brought a copious supply of water to the city, and the Roman military road ran through it. Geikie’s Life and Words of Christ , ii. p. 385.
as he went ] It is most probable that at the entrance of Jericho He met one of the sufferers, who having learnt from the crowd that He was passing, joined the other sufferer, whom the Saviour encountered as He was going out of the city on the following morning. (Comp. Luke 18:35 ; Matthew 20:29 , Matthew 20:30 .)
a great number ] of pilgrims accompanied our Lord, who had come from Peræa and Galilee, and met at this central point to go up to the Passover, at Jerusalem.
Bartimæus ] The patronymic is made into a proper name after the analogy of Bartholomew and others. The true reading seems to be the son of Timæus, Bartimæus, a blind man , “This account of him hints that he was a personage well known to Christians in St Mark’s time as a monument of the Lord’s miracle, as was probably also Simon the Leper; and the designation ‘son of Timæus’ would distinguish him, not merely from the father but also from other sons.” Lange. As in the case of the Gadarene demoniacs, he was probably better known, and hence his case is more particularly recorded. “All the roads leading to Jerusalem, like the Temple itself, were much frequented at the time of the feasts, by beggars, who reaped a special harvest from the charity of the pilgrims.”
47. Son of David ] This was the popular designation of the Messiah. He may have heard of the recent resurrection of Lazarus, which took place in his own neighbourhood.
48. charged him ] “þretnyden hym, þat he schulde be stille.” Wyclif. They rebuked him and his companion, deeming their clamours illmannered and unworthy of Him, who was passing onward to Jerusalem.
49. stood still ] in the fulness of His compassionate heart. commanded him to be called ] Or, more graphically, according to some MSS., said, Call him.
50. casting away his garment ] i. e. his abba , or upper garment, he rose , or, according to a better reading, leaped up. “Sturtinge cam to him,” Wyclif.
51. Lord ] The original word is “Rabboni” = my Master . The blind man gives Him the title of greatest reverence that he knew. The title occurs only here and in John 20:16 , where it is used by Mary Magdalene to her risen Lord. The gradations of honour were Rab, Rabbi, Rabban, Rabboni .
52. and followed Jesus ] or followed him along the road, glorifying God , as St Luke adds (18:43), and joining the festal company of his Healer, who all likewise gave praise unto God for the miracle, which they had witnessed. Comp. Acts 3:8-10 . In the account of this Miracle the graphic power of St Mark is signally displayed. He describes ( a ) the great crowds that accompanied the Saviour, records ( b ) the full name of the blind man, ( c ) the words of the people to him, ( d ) how he cast away his garment, ( e ) started up, and ( f ) came to his Healer, ( g ) how he immediately recovered his sight, and ( h ) followed in the pilgrim train. After this signal proof of His miraculous power the Lord accepted the hospitality of Zacchæus, a superintendent of customs or tribute at Jericho (Luke 19:1-10 ); uttered the Parable of “ the Pounds ” in order to correct the idea that the kingdom of heaven was about to appear immediately (Luke 19:11-27 ); and at length, six days before the Passover, reached the safe seclusion of the mountain hamlet of Bethany (John 12:1 ).
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the Week of Proper 7 / Ordinary 12