On the path to Freedom… ours.
while I am keenly aware of the length of Morning Briefings, attention spans and maintaining the interest of my reader, we do well to look at a whole passage of Scripture--in this case, a chapter--to get broader understanding of its meaning.
Today, I am employing The Message, but #8 below has Mark 10 in full from the English Standard Version also, but permit me a bit longer reading today, I pray~
To walk in Jesus’ footsteps, the devoted divide their time between the area around the Sea of Galilee and Jerusalem to the south. As we open our Bibles to Mark chapter 10, we see that Jesus has now set his course for Jerusalem, less than 80 miles from his ministry headquarters in beautiful Capernaum on the northern shore of the lake.
How did Jesus know the road to Jerusalem? Because he had gone to the Temple several times a year since he was 12 years old to observe the Feasts, Jesus had traveled one of three different well-worn paths. (see below)1
But this time, he is not going to celebrate . . . Jesus is going to die on the cross, be laid in a tomb and then arise on the third day, fulfilling the prophecies of hundreds of years earlier. As he makes his way down the middle of the tiny country, Jesus never stops teaching. Let’s look at Mark chapter ten.
When the Jewish leaders endeavor to trap Jesus with their words, he responds with the knowledge of the Creator, which He was—how it was meant to be from the start, not how any of their rabbis had interpreted the Law. For instance, take marriage. Note how applicable are Jesus’ words to the mixed-up notion of gender identity and “marriage” today: one man, one woman, born that way, meant to be united for life.
"From there he went to the area of Judea across the Jordan. A crowd of people, as was so often the case, went along, and he, as he so often did, taught them. Pharisees came up, intending to give him a hard time. They asked, “Is it legal for a man to divorce his wife?”
Jesus said, “What did Moses command?”
They answered, “Moses gave permission to fill out a certificate of dismissal and divorce her.”
Jesus said, “Moses wrote this command only as a concession to your hardhearted ways. In the original creation, God made male and female to be together. Because of this, a man leaves father and mother, and in marriage he becomes one flesh with a woman—no longer two individuals, but forming a new unity. Because God created this organic union of the two sexes, no one should desecrate his art by cutting them apart.”
When they were back home, the disciples brought it up again. Jesus gave it to them straight: “A man who divorces his wife so he can marry someone else commits adultery against her. And a woman who divorces her husband so she can marry someone else commits adultery.”2
Continuing on their way, “the people brought children to Jesus, hoping he might touch them. The disciples shooed them off. But Jesus was irate and let them know it: “Don’t push these children away. Don’t ever get between them and me. These children are at the very center of life in the kingdom. Mark this: Unless you accept God’s kingdom in the simplicity of a child, you’ll never get in.” Then, gathering the children up in his arms, he laid his hands of blessing on them.”3
How he loved little children! Don’t you wish you could be a child in the arms of Jesus? I am looking forward to that in Heaven one day. Jesus loved little children; he also loves we who are his children.
Another lesson along the way: “As he went out into the street, a man came running up, greeted him with great reverence, and asked, “Good Teacher, what must I do to get eternal life?”
Jesus said, “Why are you calling me good? No one is good, only God. You know the commandments: Don’t murder, don’t commit adultery, don’t steal, don’t lie, don’t cheat, honor your father and mother.”
He said, “Teacher, I have—from my youth—kept them all!”
Jesus looked him hard in the eye—and loved him! He said, “There’s one thing left: Go sell whatever you own and give it to the poor. All your wealth will then be heavenly wealth. And come follow me.”
The man’s face clouded over. This was the last thing he expected to hear, and he walked off with a heavy heart. He was holding on tight to a lot of things, and not about to let go.”4
Do you let some thing, or maybe it is someone, keep you from Jesus? Oh don’t misunderstand—Jesus has nothing against riches, unless they are more important than following Him.
Back on the road, they set out for Jerusalem. Jesus had a head start on them, and they were following, puzzled and not just a little afraid. He took the Twelve and began again to go over what to expect next. “Listen to me carefully. We’re on our way up to Jerusalem. When we get there, the Son of Man will be betrayed to the religious leaders and scholars. They will sentence him to death. Then they will hand him over to the Romans, who will mock and spit on him, give him the third degree, and kill him. After three days he will rise alive.”5
Stunningly, two of the disciples do not get sad, nor do they worry what this will mean, but once again, James and John ask him for position—they worry about ranking and power for themselves. Hmmm, would I have concerned myself with the same thing?
And then Jesus gives them a peek at the future for themselves: they too will suffer. He reiterates that true leadership is founded in servanthood, which is why He came to serve, not to be served, and to “give his life as a ransom for many.”6
Arriving in Jericho, they stayed a while. Jericho today is an Arab town—honestly, it feels dark to me. But it is very near the place in the Jordan River where Jesus was baptized—where I have been blessed to take part in many baptisms with my fellow travelers to the Land. We step off the ‘Israeli’ shore into a river with a border/rope in the water, with the country of Jordan being the other very near shore.
As they are leaving Jericho, Jesus sees someone who had become a fixture for most: a blind beggar, who had been there for years; John tells us he was born blind7. You know, this is the same homeless guy with a sign on the corner you drive by to get on the highway… this is the lonely neighbor you walk past . . . only, Jesus saw this guy. No one ever saw like Jesus. And no one who ever met Jesus was ever the same. Neither was this guy. He called out to Jesus for mercy, and mercy came that day because Jesus heard. Jesus gave him mercy and healed him.
That road from Galilee to Jerusalem is short, but it must have been hard for Jesus, knowing what was coming. But all along the way, he reaches people, he loves them, heals them and teaches them. This is why we read the Gospels – to encounter this Man who is like no one ever born before or since. “Jesus, teach us more about yourself. Teach us to love like you. Amen”
Makes me think of this song by Cece: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y81yIo1_3o8
Daily on the Road,
following in the footsteps of Jesus, gospel of Mark, #33
1 – a very interesting article from Biblical Archaeological Review in February of this year: https://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/biblical-topics/new-testament/3-pilgrimage-paths-from-galilee-to-jerusalem/
2 – The Message paraphrase, Mark 10.1-12
3 – ibid., Mark 10.13-16
4 – ibid., Mark 10.17-22
5 – ibid., Mark 10.32-34
6 – Mark 10.35b, NLT
7 – the story in full, John chapter 9: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John%209&version=NIV