We are travelling with Jesus to Jerusalem to the Temple and towards the time of Jesus’s death and resurrection. On route Jesus will encounter those who seek to block and oppose him. We will also see the barriers that others face.
First, we see Jesus confronted by the religious leaders seeking to test him. We know from all the Gospels that there were persistent efforts to trap and test him. Here they try to catch him out by getting him to take sides in a rift on divorce. Jesus instead takes them through the Law to their own hearts. The issue is not about certificates and certainly not about men being able to hold power over women and treat them as property. God calls us away from such legalism to true loving faithfulness that reflects God’s love and faithfulness to us.
We then return to the theme of who they kingdom is open to. Jesus has in the last chapter said that it belongs to those who become as little children but here we see barriers up against little ones as parents try to bring their kids to Jesus for blessing. Jesus insists that there must be no barriers in their way.
A man comes to ask Jesus about how we can receive eternal life and enter the Kingdom. Jesus has compassion on him. He talks about the commandments which the man claims to have kept. Jesus tells him to sell all and give to the poor. His wealth was a barrier. Although he believed he had kept the commandments he had an idol.
James and John are still arguing about greatness in the kingdom. They want the seats of power either side of Jesus in the kingdom. Rivalry and desire for status and power forms another barrier. Jesus calls on them to serve first.
As they pass through Jericho, they meet a blind man. Bartimaeus is a surname (Son of Timaeus), it seems this man doesn’t have a first name, such is his forgotten status. He is a nobody. Jesus heals him and he follows Jesus, this means he accompanies him on his pilgrimage into Jerusalem and to the Temple. Those with severe disabilities were excluded from the Temple but this barrier is removed for Bartimaeus.
Big Theme: The Gospel removes all barriers and strips away pride and power.
Questions to consider
- What barriers has the Gospel removed for us?
- Are there barriers that we put in the way of others?
- How does the Gospel challenge our approach to power and status?