Mark 10-11

Chapter 10

This gives us Jesus’ famous words on the finality of marriage “What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder” (v 7- 9). In doing so he refutes the OT law allowing divorce (Deut 24:1). I guess this is an example of why Christians regard the OT laws as passé. But then why are only some of them passé? Then, as if that’s not enough, he doubles down and asserts that remarriage after divorce should be considered adultery! Like that’s followed these days….

suffer-the-childrenV 13-16 contain another entry in the ‘famous quotes’ series: “suffer the little children to come unto me”, and “Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.” Supports the ‘gotta get ‘em while they’re young’ theory, doesn’t it? And the Christian idealization of childhood. We used to sing a hymn based on this story. Here is it as a duet. Don’t send me hate mail; it was nicer with organ accompaniment….

In v 17-31 there is a discussion about what people must do to be saved and how difficult it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of god. Make sure to read it carefully. The commandments that Jesus recites in v 18 are not the Ten Commandments – he doesn’t list all 10, and he includes one about not cheating (or committing fraud, depending on the translation you read) that isn’t in the OT at all (too bad). Consider Jesus’ advice in v 21 – have any Republicans ever read this passage??? V 25 contains the famous ‘eye of a needle’ quote, which has been interpreted many ways. I was taught in Sunday school that it was an incorrect translation, or that it referred to a narrow gate into Jerusalem, because of course in any literal sense it’s ridiculous. But apparently those interpretations are now disputed, so who knows?

V 29-31 are just plain bad advice, encouraging people to tolerate hardship and deny themselves pleasure in the life they have.

In v 35-45 we get an admonition from Jesus about not picking favorites, and are told that people who try to assert themselves must go to the back of the line. Rereading it now, so many years after leaving the church, I realized this is so typical of what Christianity teaches – don’t stick up for yourself. Keep your mouth shut and meekly take whatever is given to you. Be humble and quiet and accept your lot in life. Ugh! And furthermore, in light of what follows, this advice makes no sense, because Jesus immediately proceeds to restore the sight of a blind beggar who asserts himself by calling to Jesus right after being told to shut up. Go figure!

Chapter 11

Verses 1-10 give us the story of Jesus’ triumphal march into Jerusalem. What kind of animal he exactly rode on is uncertain – it’s an ass, donkey, or colt in various versions. I don’t think these are all the same animal but I’m not a vet and I won’t waste time looking them all up. Anyway, Jesus plainly directs the disciples to steal the animal, and they get away with it. (So much for the Ten Commandments.) V 9-10 give us the phrase “Blessed is he who cometh in the name of the lord; hosanna in the highest”!

In v 12, Jesus curses a poor fig tree for not producing out of season. What has the bible got against fig trees? In v 15 he clears the temple of all those using it as a marketplace. What exactly was wrong with that, I don’t quite get. Yahweh is opposed to trade and commerce? Business shouldn’t take place in church? (That sure sounds like Mark supports separation of religion and government.)

Jesus clears the temple

V 22-26 offer more really bad advice – if you really believe in something and pray hard enough, it will happen. But first you must forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that god will forgive you. And v 26, which is omitted from some translations, continues “But if you refuse to forgive, your Father in heaven will not forgive your sins”. Wow, that’s a little harsh! Jesus’ words in this section set people up for failure and disappointment. If their prayers aren’t answered, it’s their own fault; they didn’t believe strongly enough, or pray hard enough. Way to blame the victim. In v 27-31 the authorities are getting fed up with Jesus and challenge him to explain himself. He circles around and evades their question. Clever.

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