Then Jesus left Capernaum and went down to the region of Judea and into the area east of the Jordan River. Once again crowds gathered around him, and as usual he was teaching them.
Some Pharisees came and tried to trap him with this question: “Should a man be allowed to divorce his wife?”
Jesus answered them with a question: “What did Moses say in the law about divorce?”
“Well, he permitted it,” they replied. “He said a man can give his wife a written notice of divorce and send her away.”
But Jesus responded, “He wrote this commandment only as a concession to your hard hearts.
But ‘God made them male and female’ from the beginning of creation.
‘This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife,
and the two are united into one.’ Since they are no longer two but one,
let no one split apart what God has joined together.”
Later, when he was alone with his disciples in the house, they brought up the subject again.
He told them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries someone else commits adultery against her.
And if a woman divorces her husband and marries someone else, she commits adultery.”
One day some parents brought their children to Jesus so he could touch and bless them. But the disciples scolded the parents for bothering him.
When Jesus saw what was happening, he was angry with his disciples. He said to them, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children.
I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.”
Then he took the children in his arms and placed his hands on their heads and blessed them.
As Jesus was starting out on his way to Jerusalem, a man came running up to him, knelt down, and asked, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
“Why do you call me good?” Jesus asked. “Only God is truly good.
But to answer your question, you know the commandments: ‘You must not murder. You must not commit adultery. You must not steal. You must not testify falsely. You must not cheat anyone. Honor your father and mother.’ ”
“Teacher,” the man replied, “I’ve obeyed all these commandments since I was young.”
Looking at the man, Jesus felt genuine love for him. “There is still one thing you haven’t done,” he told him. “Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
At this the man’s face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions.
Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the Kingdom of God!”
This amazed them. But Jesus said again, “Dear children, it is very hard to enter the Kingdom of God.
In fact, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!”
The disciples were astounded. “Then who in the world can be saved?” they asked.
Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But not with God. Everything is possible with God.”
Then Peter began to speak up. “We’ve given up everything to follow you,” he said.
“Yes,” Jesus replied, “and I assure you that everyone who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or property, for my sake and for the Good News,
will receive now in return a hundred times as many houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and property—along with persecution. And in the world to come that person will have eternal life.
But many who are the greatest now will be least important then, and those who seem least important now will be the greatest then. ”
They were now on the way up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking ahead of them. The disciples were filled with awe, and the people following behind were overwhelmed with fear. Taking the twelve disciples aside, Jesus once more began to describe everything that was about to happen to him.
“Listen,” he said, “we’re going up to Jerusalem, where the Son of Man will be betrayed to the leading priests and the teachers of religious law. They will sentence him to die and hand him over to the Romans.
They will mock him, spit on him, flog him with a whip, and kill him, but after three days he will rise again.”
Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came over and spoke to him. “Teacher,” they said, “we want you to do us a favor.”
“What is your request?” he asked.
They replied, “When you sit on your glorious throne, we want to sit in places of honor next to you, one on your right and the other on your left.”
But Jesus said to them, “You don’t know what you are asking! Are you able to drink from the bitter cup of suffering I am about to drink? Are you able to be baptized with the baptism of suffering I must be baptized with?”
“Oh yes,” they replied, “we are able!” Then Jesus told them, “You will indeed drink from my bitter cup and be baptized with my baptism of suffering.
But I have no right to say who will sit on my right or my left. God has prepared those places for the ones he has chosen.”
When the ten other disciples heard what James and John had asked, they were indignant.
So Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them.
But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant,
and whoever wants to be first among you must be the slave of everyone else.
For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Then they reached Jericho, and as Jesus and his disciples left town, a large crowd followed him. A blind beggar named Bartimaeus (son of Timaeus) was sitting beside the road.
When Bartimaeus heard that Jesus of Nazareth was nearby, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”
“Be quiet!” many of the people yelled at him. But he only shouted louder, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”
When Jesus heard him, he stopped and said, “Tell him to come here.” So they called the blind man. “Cheer up,” they said. “Come on, he’s calling you!”
Bartimaeus threw aside his coat, jumped up, and came to Jesus.
“What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked. “My Rabbi, ” the blind man said, “I want to see!”
And Jesus said to him, “Go, for your faith has healed you.” Instantly the man could see, and he followed Jesus down the road.