Jesus discusses the origin of divorce, and has a conversation with a rich young man about his relationship with God. After Jesus foretells his death and resurrection again, James and John ask him about positions in his kingdom.
Jesus left Capernaum and traveled south into the region of Judea and the land east of the Jordan river. Once again he attracted crowds of people and as always he began to teach them. Some Pharisees, intending to trap him, asked, “Does our law allow a man to divorce his wife?”
“What did Moses say about that in the law?” Jesus replied.
They answered, “Moses allowed a man to simply hand his wife a written notice of divorce and send her away.”
“He allowed that, of course,” countered Jesus, “because you people are so hard of heart. It wasn’t that way in the beginning when God created the world. As Scripture says, ‘God made them male and female.’ That’s why a man will leave his parents and bond with his wife. No longer are they two separate beings — they have become one. Since it is God who has made one out of the two, they are not to be separated by man.
When we had gone inside we brought up the matter of divorce with Jesus. He put it very simply, “If a man divorces his wife and marries again, he is guilty of adultery against her. In the same way, if a woman divorces her husband and marries again, she is guilty of adultery.” (1-12)
One day some parents brought their children to Jesus so he could bless them with his touch. We rebuked the parents, but when Jesus saw what we were doing, he became indignant. “Let the little children come to me!“ he told us. “Don’t stop them; God’s kingdom belongs to the child-like. I assure you that no one will enter the kingdom of God unless they receive it like a little child. Then Jesus gathered the children into his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them. (13-16)
As Jesus was leaving on a trip, a man came running up and fell to his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he exclaimed, “what must I do to earn eternal life?”
“Now why do you call me good?” asked Jesus; “no one is truly good except God?” But to answer your question, the commandments, as you know, say, “Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, do not cheat, honor your father and mother.”
“Teacher,” the man replied, “I have obeyed those commandments ever since I was a little boy.”
With a look of genuine love, Jesus said, “There’s one more thing you need to do; go and sell everything you own, then give the money to the poor. That way you will have treasure in heaven. Then come and take up my way of life.”
Shocked at such a prospect, the man — who, incidentally, had a huge estate — went away sorrowful. Jesus looked around at us and said, “It’s so difficult for the wealthy to enter the kingdom of God!” We could hardly believe what we heard, so once again Jesus said, “It’s so difficult for the wealthy to enter the kingdom of God! Without a doubt, it would be easier for a camel to squeeze through the eye of a needle than for a wealthy person to enter the kingdom of God.”
That made us even more astounded, so we asked, “Is it possible for anyone to be saved?”
Jesus looked us straight in the eye and said, “What is impossible for man is not for God, because with him everything is possible.
At that point I just had to say something. “We’ve given up everything we had and become your followers,” I exclaimed.”
“That’s right,” said Jesus, “and I assure you that anyone who leaves home, brothers, sisters, mother, father, children or property for my sake and the sake of the gospel, will receive, in this world, a hundred times as much — houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and property (all with persecution) — and in the world to come will receive eternal life. But many who now seem to be so important, will at that time be seen as insignificant; and those who now seem to be unimportant will be the most significant. (17-31)
Traveling from the east, the road rises steeply to Jerusalem. Jesus was out front and we disciples were following, astonished at his obvious determination to get there. Others traveling with us sensed the drama and became apprehensive. At one point along the road Jesus took us aside and told us what would happen to him upon arrival.
“Listen,” he said, “when we arrive in Jerusalem I will be turned over to the ruling priests and the teachers of religious law. They will condemn me, the Son of Man, to death and turn me over to the Romans who will mock me, spit on me, flog me with a whip, and kill me. But three days later I will rise from the dead.” (32-34)
James and John, the sons of Zebedee, approached Jesus and said, “Teacher, there is something we’d like you to do for us.”
“What’s that?” responded Jesus
“When you’re on your royal throne, allow the two of us the honor of sitting, one on your right hand and the other on your left.”
“You haven’t the faintest idea what that would involve,” said Jesus. “Are you able to drink the cup of suffering that I’m about to drink? Are you able to be “baptized” into the suffering and death into which I’m about to be immersed?”
“Yes. We are able,” they exclaimed.
Then Jesus said to them, “You will indeed drink the cup I drink and be baptized with the baptism I go through, but it is not for me to say who will sit on my right or my left. Those seats of honor are for those whom God has chosen.”
When the rest of us learned what James and John had requested, we were furious. So Jesus called us all together and said to us, “It’s common knowledge that in the Gentile world those in charge lord it over their subjects, and that officials make their authority felt. But it’s not to be that way with you. Whoever wants to be first, must be the servant of all the others. When I, the Son of Man, came, it was not to be served but to serve by giving my life as a ransom for many.” (35-45)
Our route to Jerusalem took us through Jericho. As we were leaving town along with a large crowd, we passed by a blind beggar by the name of Bartimaeus (the son of Timaeus). He was sitting beside the road, and when he heard that Jesus of Nazareth was among the travelers he began to call out, “Jesus, Son of David! Have mercy on me!”
Many in the crowd rebuked him, insisting that he be quiet but he shouted out all the louder, “Son of David! Have mercy on me!”
Jesus stopped. “Tell him to come here,” he said to those around him. So they called to the blind man, saying, “Good news! Jesus wants you to come to him, so let’s go.”
Bartimaeus threw off his robe, jumped to his feet, and made his way to Jesus.
“What do you want me to do for you?” asked Jesus
“Rabbi,” pleaded the blind man, “please help me see again.”
And Jesus said to him, “You can go now because you faith is healing you.” And at that very moment the beggar’s vision was restored and he could see. And as we continued on toward Jerusalem, he followed close behind. (46-52)