Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Discipleship in the Context of Mark 10

In 10:13, the disciples rebuked little children for wanting to come and see Jesus (cf. Mark 6:36; 8:4). Jesus teaches the disciples, however, that they must receive the kingdom like a child (10:15). Jesus emphasizes humility, service, welcoming the weak, and protecting the vulnerable (cf. 9:34-37, 42; 10:11-12) (Geddert, 233). This is part of discipleship. In dealing with the rich young ruler, Jesus once again demonstrates that discipleship is costly and requires that one loses everything to Christ (10:21; cf. 8:34, 35, 36, 37). Such a standard seemed impossible to the disciples (10:26) but what God (Christ) requires of them (and us), he will enable them to do (10:27). True discipleship is possible!

At the end of the chapter, Bartimaeus provides an excellent example of genuine discipleship. This blind man (note the irony by comparing the disciples in 8:17-18) comes to Jesus and understands who he is (cf. 10:47) and is healed. It is interesting to note that in the previous healings in the book of Mark, Jesus seems to keep his identity as Messiah secret (1:44, 5:43, 7:36, 8:26). Twice, however, we are told that those who were healed went out and proclaimed it. In fact, 7:36 says, “The more He ordered them, the more widely they continued to proclaim it.” But there is something very different about Bartimaeus’ healing. Mark reports that immediately (euthus) Bartimaeus began following Jesus. This is the true sign of a disciple. Bartimaeus saw Jesus, believed in Him, and followed him 'on the road'. What road was Jesus on? He was on his way to Jerusalem- on the road to the cross! This recalls Jesus' teaching on discipleship in 8:34: “take up your cross and follow me.” Will we do it?