Mark 10 is challenging. In it, Jesus confronts things that are common in our society and churches.
Divorce – “Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate” (v. 9).
Remarriage after divorce -- "Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery” (vv. 11-12).
Wealth -- “You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me” (v. 21).
Controlling leadership -- “You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant” (vv. 42-43).
This obviously is not an exhaustive list of sins. It represents Jesus’ response to a few challenges of His day and the questions people asked.
In the midst of these conversations, the disciples, in anguish, ask, “Then who can be saved?” (v. 26). Very good question. Jesus sets a standard that is beyond our ability to obtain.
Upon hearing this question, Jesus looks at them. He doesn’t look away in a contemplative fashion as if to speak to all humanity. He looks at His disciples. To look at someone, to really see them, is a gift of connection, of recognition, of care. And Jesus answered them. “For mortals it is impossible, but not for God; for God all things are possible” (v. 27).
Salvation from sin comes only from God and is possible only with God. Jesus doesn’t say people’s sins will disappear. He says God will save them from their sin.
Sin dishonors God, and I would even say it hurts God because when you love someone the hurts of one hurt the other. But sin also destroys the sinner. This is why salvation is so important. We are otherwise destroyed. With God, we are saved. We still struggle in this crazy, sinful world, but there is deliverance.
The divorced may live beyond that pain in their life. The remarried may continue on in service in their new commitment. The wealthy may see their prosperity for the difficulty it truly creates in seeking to live faithfully for God. The controlling leader realizes he or she is no leader at all because real leaders need not control.
Scripture identifies many other sins. All have sinned and fallen short of God's glory (Romans 3:23). We tend to shrug our shoulders at certain sins that seem common and not so terrible, but that does not change the fact that we followers of Christ are sinners. We even continue to sin.
In this dreadful condition, God does what is impossible. God saves.
As a result, the people who gather in church are all in the same boat. We accept the divorced, the remarried, the wealthy, and the controlling leader. They need us. We need each other, all sinners that we are.
In Luke 6, Jesus says, “The good person out of the good treasure of the heart produces good” (v. 45).
May we sinners, out of the treasure God has placed in our hearts, produce good even as we struggle with our sins. For this, we give are ultimate thanks.