This passage shows the many ways that the gospel of the kingdom runs counter to the wisdom of this age.
10:1-12 — In God’s kingdom, marriage is not about personal fulfillment, convenience, or even building stable communities. It is about our Father’s will for us and our loving obedience to him as his children. May or hearts not be hardened to God’s purpose and plan for marriage; may we not be like spoiled children who join what should not be and separate what God has brought together.
10:13-31 — God’s kingdom belongs, not to the rich, powerful and influential of this age, but to those who are like little children. It is for those who humble themselves and come to Christ as children of our heavenly Father, rather than for those who would lift themselves up as fine upstanding citizens who have kept the moral law for all to see. This seems impossible to us, because we tend to believe that God will be pleased with us if we clean up a bit. But Jesus says, “many who are first will be last, and the last first” (10:31).
10:32-45 — That is why it’s funny that James and John want to be first. Jesus tells his disciples for the third time in the book of Mark that he is going to die, but James and John want the seat of honor in God’s kingdom. Can you handle what I’m about to go through? Jesus asks. Remember what I just said: “And they will mock him and spit on him, and flog him and kill him” (10:34). James and John say they can take it, but clearly they think Jesus is headed for glory, not criminal execution. But jockeying for position is not the way to greatness in God’s kingdom: “whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all” (10:43-44). Want to be president? Clean a few toilets. Want to run the show in heaven? Bind yourself as a willing slave to Christ.
10:46-52 — Finally, the annoying homeless guy on the side of the road is the one who has the faith to be made well. There are hundreds of people probably crowding around Jesus, and none of them are annoying enough to get Jesus’s attention, but the Lord turns to the one the whole crowd is trying to shut up. His prayer, “Son of David, have mercy on me,” is the prayer of a child of the kingdom.
How does the gospel of the kingdom run counter to your thinking today? How do you find yourself seeking to be served rather than to serve? Or despising the children or the weak or the poor when Jesus so often lifts them up? Or trying to clean yourself up rather than approaching Christ in humility and faith?
To paraphrase Jesus’s statement in 10:9, don’t try to right what God has made upside down. Christ Jesus came in weakness and ultimately died to bring about God’s kingdom. If we would come to him, we’ll have to let God flip us on our heads, so to speak, and quit trying to cling to our dignity. In God’s kingdom, we die in order to live.