Mark 10: The Upside Down Kingdom

How difficult it is for the wealthy to enter the kingdom of God! . . . It’s very hard to enter the kingdom of God!  It would be easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter God’s kingdom. (10:23-25)

Read on.  This is no diatribe against money.

What if we have turned the phrase “enter the kingdom of God” into something other than what Jesus meant?

What if it doesn’t mean “go to heaven” like some people make it seem?  What if this idea that there is some entrance test to heaven and people who love money can’t pass the test isn’t really what this means?  What if the kingdom that one would want to enter isn’t “out there” or “up there?”  What if it isn’t a “when you die” thing?

What if this kingdom is a “right here, right now” thing, as we saw in Mark 1 and a few other places so far?  What if the kingdom is a new “age” (10:17) or era or system or way of seeing reality that can come on a Tuesday afternoon in the line at the grocery store when we really begin to see, accept and act on things like Jesus wanted us to?  What if God is wanting to create that new kingdom with and through us, right here and now, as we start living the way of Jesus in the everyday of life?

  • What if we enter the kingdom when we stop acting like adults and start acting more like children (10:14-15)?
  • What if we enter the kingdom when we think heavenly treasure is more valuable than earthly wealth (10:21)?
  • What if we enter the kingdom when we think the impossible is possible (10:27)?
  • What if we enter the kingdom when we leave behind what we have held dear before, only to receive the same back again and with greater abundance (10:29-30)?
  • What if we enter the kingdom from the back of the line, not the front (10:31)?
  • What if we enter the kingdom when we think the greatest among us are the servants, slaves, and saviors (10:43-45)?

Or at least, what if we begin to enter the kingdom when all of this becomes true in us?

That’s what I am thinking about today as I read this chapter.

How about you?

Categories: Mark | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

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10 thoughts on “Mark 10: The Upside Down Kingdom

  1. Divorce is permissible.
    “It was because your hearts were hard that Moses wrote you this law”
    Something like divorce is permissible but it also not a good act.

    I just write above comment and in v11-2 tell another stories. After reading carefully, anyone who INTENTIONALLY divorce for another man/woman is consider adulteries. Today it become more common to see this event..
    With many babies today birth without knowing is their father, and the woman do not know who is their father’s son. Statistic called as high as 60% of total birth. I do not know what to said…

    “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good–except God alone. Again he declined. Sigh. It really make my head spinning.

    I always get a answers, 10 commandment is not applicable to Christian, only first and second commandment only being used.
    After read v19- 21, I think different section (Catholic, Protestant, Calvinist and etc) have different meaning. But to read as one chapter, seem it not that easy to enter the kingdom.
    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.”

    All commandment must be follow?

    v27- “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.” but which God Jesus referring. Is it God in v18. —>If he talking about himself, why he advise a man in v19-21.

    • It would seem marriage the sanctity of marriage and free license given to desire are no respecters of religion. You can find it everywhere. Respect and faithfulness in marriage is such a great gift to give our children.

      Yes, Jesus is known to be a head-spinner! I think what was happening in this passage you quoted is that Jesus is forcing the religious leaders to face that he is God. They are quick to call him good. They recognize that in him. But only God is truly good. So does that make him God? Do they see that he has the same characteristics as God?

      Yes, Christians have different views on how to approach the laws of the Old Testament. What is clear from the NT is that one does not get right with God by following laws. This is a self-attained righteousness that is contrary to the Christian view of grace. So some Christians have said they are totally free from OT laws. Of course, those same Christians would agree that it is wrong to steal, murder, and disrespect parents. More Christians would say that all of the same moral principles of the OT are given again as commandments in the NT, with the exception of one: observing the Sabbath. Increasingly more popular is a view I personally hold, based on Romans 13:8-10. Within every OT law is a larger principle, specifically the principle of loving concern for others and for God. If in all actions we exhibit this love, we will be living in a way that pleases God. It will also be a way of life that upholds all of the OT laws, even if we are not “bound” to them in an obligatory sense.

      Do all commandments have to be followed? It depends on what you are talking about. “Have to” as in God will not save you if you do not? Well, that is a legalistic, anti-grace way of thinking that is not in line with the way of Christ. “have to” as in this is how God wants people to live and people who love God will try to bend their will to the will of God, remembering that we will never do so perfectly and that God’s grace forgives us nonetheless? Yes, precisely.

  2. Trent Williamson

    I really get a chuckle out of the response of the disciples – especially James and John……..because they remind me so much of myself. Can’t you just see them planning this request, “O.K. – if this is really going to happen to him we better pull out the big guns and ask for it all – our time is running out – we only have one shot………..” WE WANT YOU TO DO FOR US WHATEVER WE ASK – WE WANT THE BEST SEATS IN THE HOUSE OF HEAVEN!!! His reply is priceless, “If you want to sit where I sit are you willing to go through what I’m about to go through????”

    How many times have I tried to bargain with God and say, “O.K.. – here is what I want you to do for me!” Only to have Him say, “No, instead, this is what you must do for ME!” Die to self, become a slave, go last instead of first, serve others, embrace the Kingdom like a child………… James and John – I’m not sure this is what I had in mind when I signed up for this kingdom business!!

  3. Melanie Semore

    Like Trent, I find the disciples’ jockeying for the best seats amusing. It’s like the time my siblings and I would argue over who got to sit by the window. It’s easy for me to tsk tsk at the disciples because they are so obviously missing the point. Yet I know that I miss the point over and over, and many times I don’t even realize that I am. Tsk tsk for me, too.

  4. Eddy

    I was put off by their question as well. I’m not nearly as put off by myself when I do it. That seems to be the “upside down kingdom” in live in most days unfortunately.

  5. Courtney

    I have been thinking about the theme of weakness in the Bible quite a bit recently. And this passage is hammering it in as well. In the beatitudes, it is the weak who receive the blessing. Here it is the children, the blind and those who have nothing who are lifted up. The rich man, well there will be challenges. The smart ones that knew everything, challenges. It seems that the more we come down the more space God has to do the work.

    That is one blessing I have learned from living in a culture that is not my own. There are automatic weaknesses here. Whatever I think I know how to do usually ends up being thrown back in my face. In fact, weakness has been forced upon me. And in that I am seeing new sides of the heart of God.

    May He give us the grace to make less of ourselves and much of Him each and every day.

  6. I love how the Message paraphrases this chapter. It is so clear! Especially the “upside-down kingdom” aspect of it all.

    I found the story of the rich young ruler especially clear this time around. The Message makes it very clear that this story really isn’t about money. “What must I (emphasis) do to get eternal life?” “I have kept them (commandments) all.” Jesus’ response to a forlorn, back-turning rich man: “[People like this have] no chance at all if you think you can pull it off by yourself.” Money and power probably make it easier for people to be self-sufficient, but this story is really about that latter aspect. How can I save myself? You can’t, Jesus says. So let go of whatever is making you think you can do this on your own.

    Cast like this, pride in intelligence and knowledge can be an impediment. Devotion to spiritual disciplines to the point of feeling secure by our own rule of life – equally messed up.

    “Then who has a chance at all?” we might ask with the disciples. Jesus: “Every chance in the world if you let God do it.” Thank you, Jesus!

  7. “Unless you accept God’s kingdom in the simplicity of a child…” And yet, for me, faith is anything but simple. *sigh*

  8. “Go, sell all that you have and give the money to the poor. Then all of your treasure will be in heaven.” (10:21)

    There is something about that more passive way of saying it. Treasure in heaven is just the natural result of giving away your riches. All you are left with is what you have spiritually. Get rid of the hindrance, and big things will happen.

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