Some Pharisees came up to Jesus, testing Him, and began to question Him whether it was lawful for a man to divorce a wife.
Lawful. There was no question that it was lawful for a man to divorce his wife (see Mark 10:4).
And He answered and said to them, “What did Moses command you?”
Moses. In other words, “You’re asking me about the law? I thought you Pharisees were supposed to be law experts. What did Moses say?”
They said, “Moses permitted a man TO WRITE A CERTIFICATE OF DIVORCE AND SEND her AWAY.”
Under the Law of Moses, a man who wished to divorce his wife had to do two things: (1) write her a get or certificate of divorce and (2) send her away (Deu. 24:1). This created problems when men did the latter without the former (see entry for Mark 10:11).
But Jesus said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment.
God created marriage (see next verse); man invented divorce.
AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH; so they are no longer two, but one flesh.
(a) One flesh. There joining together of a man and a woman into one flesh or body has both a physical aspect (see 1 Cor. 6:16), and a spiritual aspect (1 Cor. 6:17).
(b) They are no longer two, but one. When a man and a woman come together in marriage, they create something new – a marital union (Gen. 2:24). This union symbolizes the unity the believers have with the Lord (see entry for Eph. 5:32).
(c) Two. Jesus emphasizes the number two as if to say marriage has two people, not three or four. “You argue about the reasons for divorce, but some of you have multiple wives!” (see entry for Mark 10:11).
And He said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her;
(a) Divorces. The original word (apoluo) does not mean divorce in the modern sense of the word. As the Pharisees stated, a man who wished to divorce his wife had to do separate things: (1) write her a get or certificate of divorce and (2) send (apoluo) her away (Mark 10:4). But some men were doing the latter but not the former. They were sending their wives out into the cold without giving them a get or certificate of divorce.
(b) Commits adultery. A man who sent his wife away without the proper paperwork (the divorce certificate) remained technically married. He could not remarry without committing adultery. The issue is not that some people were remarrying; it’s that they were remarrying while they were still married.
There is a larger issue here and it is the shameful practice of wife-dumping. This practice has left such an enduring stain on Jewish history that the Jews have a special name for a women who is sent away without a get. Such a woman is known as an agunah or a chained wife. She no longer has a husband to provide for her, but since she is still married, she cannot remarry. This practice of wife dumping was abhorrent to Jesus, and he used the law to rebuke the men who did it. “You are breaking the Ten Commandments.”
It can be hard for non-Jews to grasp these distinctions, and it doesn’t help when English Bibles muddle the issue. Some translations incorrectly say “Whoever divorces his wife,” but a more accurate translation is “Whoever shall put away his wife” (AKJV) or “Whoever may put away his wife” (LSV).
and if she herself divorces her husband and marries another man, she is committing adultery.”
(a) Divorces. As in the previous verse, the original word (apoluo) does not mean divorce in the modern sense. Jesus is talking about people who sent their spouses away without issuing a divorce certificate. Such people remained married and could not remarry.
(b) Adultery. If a man sent his wife away without a divorce certificate and remarried, he was an adultery, and if a woman did the same, so was she.
Further reading: “Why does Jesus hate divorce?”
As He was setting out on a journey, a man ran up to Him and knelt before Him, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”
(a) A man. From Luke’s account we know this man was a wealthy Jewish official (Luke 18:18).
(b) What shall I do to inherit eternal life? There is nothing you can do to inherit eternal life – it’s an inheritance. You only get it when someone dies, and Someone did.
Like the rich man, some people are confused about salvation. They think that if they are basically good people, God will have to admit them into his kingdom. Such people are truly lost for they are relying on their self-righteousness. Salvation comes to us by grace, like an inheritance or gift. You cannot earn it. You can only receive it by faith (Eph. 2:8).
In Christ we are heirs of salvation (Heb. 1:14), heirs of eternal life (Matt. 19:29, Mark 10:17, Eph. 1:14, Tit. 3:7), and heirs of blessed and gracious life (Eph. 1:3, 1 Pet. 3:7, 9). See entry for Inheritance.
Note that a similar question was put to Jesus by lawyer (Luke 10:25).
(c) Eternal life is living forever in union with Jesus; see entry for John 3:15.
And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone.
(a) Why do you call Me good? Jesus knew the man considered himself a good person. Jesus cut straight to the heart of the man’s self-righteousness by challenging his standard of goodness.
The defining ingredient of self-righteousness is that you are providing your own standard of goodness. When you decide what is good and right, perhaps on the basis of your own moral judgment or the law, you are eating from the wrong tree and usurping God’s role as the Righteous Judge. True righteousness comes from trusting in Jesus, the Righteous One (2 Cor. 5:21).
(b) No one is good except God alone. God alone is the definition of goodness and righteousness.
Jesus spoke about good men, good servants, and good Samaritans, but no one is as good as God. We all fall short of his glory (Rom. 3:23).
Some people have a distorted view of God’s goodness. They think God is sometimes good and sometimes bad and that his goodness is a response to their goodness. “If I do something good (e.g., repent), he’ll do something good (he’ll forgive).” This transactional view is unscriptural. God’s goodness, like sunshine, is unrelated to our behavior. God is always good.
(c) God. Most of the time when Jesus spoke about God, he called him Father (see entry for Luke 2:49). But when speaking to the religious leaders and those under law, he typically called him God (theos).
“You know the commandments, ‘DO NOT MURDER, DO NOT COMMIT ADULTERY, DO NOT STEAL, DO NOT BEAR FALSE WITNESS, Do not defraud, HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER.’”
Honor. Some heard they must hate their parents because of what Jesus said in Luke 14:26. But Jesus doesn’t want us to hate anyone (Matt 5:43–44), and our parents are worthy of honor.
And he said to Him, “Teacher, I have kept all these things from my youth up.”
The self-righteous man boasts in his law-keeping. “God must be pleased with me because I have kept the rules and passed the test.” He does not realize that he is an idolater glorifying himself and a law-breaker to boot. By claiming to be good on his own merits, he effectively calls God a liar (see Rom. 3:10, 23).
Looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him and said to him, “One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”
(a) Give to the poor. Don’t invest in worldly wealth that fades away but store up heavenly treasure.
The Jews understood that giving to the poor was a pathway to blessing and a way to store up heavenly treasure (Deu. 15:10). “One who is gracious to a poor man lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his good deed” (Pro. 19:17).
(b) Treasure in heaven refers to people.
People are the treasure that moth and rust can’t touch and thieves can’t steal. When the Bible talks about spiritual offspring or eternal friends, it is referring to the only treasure you can take with you. Why did Jesus give up everything he have? To win you. You are his treasure.
See entry for Heavenly Treasure.
And Jesus, looking around, said to his disciples, “How hard it will be for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God!”
(a) How hard. Jesus doesn’t make it hard for people to enter the kingdom; trusting in riches makes it hard (1 Tim. 6:9, 17). Jesus is lamenting the allure of worldly wealth. One can either serve God or mammon (Matt. 6:24). To run after wealth or let it rule you is the root of all kinds of evil (1 Tim. 6:10).
(b) The kingdom of God is synonymous with the kingdom of heaven; see entry for Matt. 3:2.
The disciples were amazed at His words. But Jesus answered again and said to them, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God!
(a) Amazed. The disciples were astonished to hear this. Under the law-keeping covenant, those who were rich were thought to be blessed by God (see Deut. 28:1–8). To hear that the rich were disadvantaged and the poor were blessed when it came to the kingdom was a great turnaround (Luke 6:20, 24).
(b) How hard; see previous verse.
“It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”
A camel. Scholars debate whether the original word meant camel or rope. Either way, Jesus is describing something that is essentially impossible (see Mark 10:27). It is difficult for those who have been ensnared by the love of money to enter the kingdom. But what is impossible for man, is possible for God (see Mark 10:27).
They were even more astonished and said to Him, “Then who can be saved?”
(a) Astonished. They were all the more astonished because to their old covenant way of thinking, rich people had the inside track when it came to the things of God. It was as if the standards of the kingdom were completely contrary to the systems of rewards and punishments they had been raised with.
(b) Who can be saved? “If rich people, who are blessed by God, can’t be saved, what chance do the rest of us have?”
Looking at them, Jesus said, “With people it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God.”
(a) Impossible. Under the old covenant, wealth was seen as a sign of God’s favor. It was a blessing given to those who obeyed the law. But all the wealth in the world would not get you into the kingdom, said Jesus. You could keep all the laws perfectly and you would still not get in. Which is bad news for those who were relying on the law.
(b) Possible. What the law fails to do, grace accomplishes. Grace qualifies poor and rich alike, which is why the New Testament church had rich people like Zacchaeus the tax collector, Joseph of Arimathea, and Barnabas the apostle.
Peter began to say to Him, “Behold, we have left everything and followed You.”
Left unstated is the question recorded in Matthew. What then will there be for us? See entry for Matt. 19:27.
Jesus said, “Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or farms, for My sake and for the gospel’s sake,
(a) Truly I say to you. Jesus is about to make an astonishing claim about the rewards of the Christian life (see next verse).
(b) No one who has left. There is a cost in following Jesus. You will have to leave your old way of life and that could mean losing friendships. You might even be rejected by your family. But there is a handsome return to this investment (see next verse).
(c) Farms or fields imply businesses; see entry for Matt. 19:29.
(d) For My sake and the gospel’s sake. Jesus is the reason; the rewards are incidental.
(e) The gospel refers to the gospel of Christ or the gospel of God or the gospel of the kingdom. These are all different labels for the gospel of grace. See entry for The Gospel.
but that he will receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions; and in the age to come, eternal life.
(a) A hundred times as much. The Christian life has its rewards.
Most Christians have heard about the costs of discipleship, but not the rewards. They’ve been told what they have to give up, but not what they get in return. Jesus promises we will receive a hundred times as much as we lose. It’s an astonishing guarantee, yet many Christians don’t know it.
If you knew of an investment offering a 10,000 percent return, you would sell everything you had to get in on the ground floor. If you knew a single seed would return a hundredfold increase, you’d plant as much seed as you could. It seems incredible, yet these are the returns promised by Jesus. He’s saying God’s love is potent. The more you give away, the more you get back (Matt. 25:29).
Although God provides for our daily needs, Jesus is not speaking of material rewards which rust and fade. It’s hard for rich men to enter the kingdom (Mark 10:25). He is speaking about true rewards which are eternal. Spiritual offspring and eternal friends. The more children you have, the more grandchildren you can expect, and this applies in the spiritual realm even more than in the natural. Seed reproduces after its own kind. But those who do nothing with the seed of God’s word, never sowing it, never taking a risk, will have none. “The world of the generous gets larger and larger; the world of the stingy gets smaller and smaller” (Pro. 11:24, MSG).
(b) In the present age. Following Christ may cost you friendships and family (see previous verse), but you will be welcomed by your spiritual family. Doors will open for you in this age and in the age to come.
(c) Eternal life is living forever in union with Jesus; see entry for John 3:15.
“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”
A ransom for many. Was Jesus’ life offered as a ransom for many (Matt. 20:28) or a ransom for all (see 1 Tim. 2:6)? Both. Jesus paid for all but not all receive his grace. Many do; some don’t.
On the cross, the Lamb of God bore the sins of all (John 1:29, 1 John 2:2), and he bore the sins of many (Heb. 9:28). His righteousness is freely offered to all (Rom. 3:22), but only many are made righteous (Rom. 5:19). Forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to all (Luke 24:47), but his blood only brings forgiveness to many (Matt. 26:28). The grace of God brings salvation to all (Tit. 2:11), but only abounds to the many (Rom. 5:15).
When he heard that it was Jesus the Nazarene, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”
(a) Jesus the Nazarene. A Nazarene was someone from Nazareth, a Galilean town of little consequence. In Judea, Jesus was known as a Nazarene in fulfilment of prophecy (see entry for Matt. 2:23).
(b) The son of David was another name for the Messiah. See entry for Matt. 1:1.
(c) Mercy is what grace looks like when you are needy. See entry for Mercy.
And Jesus said to him, “Go; your faith has made you well.” Immediately he regained his sight and began following Him on the road.
(a) Your faith has made you well. It is the grace of God that brings healing, but since grace only comes by faith (Eph. 2:8), Jesus said what he said.
(b) Made you well can also be translated made you whole. The original word (sozo) is usually translated as save (e.g., Matt. 1:21), but it also implies healing. When Jesus healed the sick, he sozo ed them; he healed them (Mark 5:23), delivered them (Luke 8:36) and made them whole (Matt. 9:21). See entry for Salvation.
The Grace Commentary is a work in progress with new content added regularly. Sign up for occasional updates below. Got a suggestion? Please use the Feedback page. To report typos or broken links on this page, please use the comment form below.
- Mark 10:2
- Mark 10:3
- Mark 10:4
- Mark 10:5
- Mark 10:8
- Mark 10:11
- Mark 10:12
- Mark 10:17
- Mark 10:18
- Mark 10:19
- Mark 10:20
- Mark 10:21
- Mark 10:23
- Mark 10:24
- Mark 10:25
- Mark 10:26
- Mark 10:27
- Mark 10:28
- Mark 10:29
- Mark 10:30
- Mark 10:45
- Mark 10:47
- Mark 10:52