(1-12) Mark seems to be making an absolute statement about divorce here, but we know from fuller accounts that Jesus adds the phrase “except for sexual immorality” when talking about divorce (Matthew 5:32; 19:9). Mark probably expects his readers to understand that the Pharisees are actually asking about what amounts to a no-fault divorce. In other words they want to know if divorce is allowable for any and all reasons. Jesus says no, it’s not, because marriage is sacred in God’s eyes. There are certain specific reasons for divorce, but outside of those reasons you are breaking a sacred vow.
(13-16) Children again feature prominently! Jesus uses children here as an illustration of those who will enter the kingdom. Children don’t have jobs, they don’t own houses, and they can’t buy food and clothing. They are utterly dependent on others for care and sustenance. In order for us to become a part of the kingdom of God we must recognize our own need and understand that we are utterly dependent on God for salvation. Jesus’ care and blessing of children also reminds us that we are to take special care of our own children!
(17-27) The rich man probably was sincere, because Jesus “felt love for him.” Society taught the man that he must be righteous, because God had blessed him with riches (a thought that the disciples echo). But he wants to make sure, so he asks Jesus what he must do to inherit eternal life. Jesus challenges the man’s understanding of righteousness. He may look righteous outwardly, but inwardly he’s still a sinner, and he becomes an object lesson for how hard it is for those who believe in their own righteousness to come to the place where they realize their need for God. We’re right back to the children again, and we can see why these events are put back to back! This childlike faith is itself a gift of God.
Ephesians 2:8-9 “For by grace you are saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God; it is not from works, so that no one can boast.”
(28-31) Peter wants a pat on the head, and he gets one, but with a reminder. Even if you leave everything, even if you give everything up, you gain so much more in return! You are a part of a new family who has resources and will help. You are blessed! And this family is especially important because of the persecution that believers will experience. We have to help one another. That’s the key. We don’t glory in our new situation, or take advantage of others, but we continue to serve. “But many who are first will be last, and the last first.“