The discussion in the preceding chapter has covered much of the content of this present chapter. The chapter may be summarized quickly:
Summary Jesus leaves Capernaum and goes to region of Judea and beyond the Jordan, considerably south in the direction of Jerusalem and east of the Jordan; he continues to instruct his disciples. He teaches about divorce, talks about the example of children, tells the story of the rich man, and once again, foretells his death and resurrection, hears a request from the brothers John and James about who in the kingdom would be allows to sit on his right side, and then ends with the healing of Bartimaeus. The Pharisees initiate the discussion about divorce, and the disciples follow-up on the discussion. Following this discussion, Jesus takes into his arms the little children brought to him by their parents, blesses them, and says that of such is the Kingdom of God made. The children are followed by a rich young man who wants to know what he should do to enter God's kingdom; Jesus tells him to keep the law but, also, to sell his possessions and give the money to the poor, a requirement that the young man finds too difficult. This leads to a discussion of the difficulty they rich may have in attaining God's kingdom.
On the road on the way to Jerusalem, he tells his disciples he will be condemned by the chief priests and scribes, handed over to the Gentiles, be killed, and rise again after three days. James and John ask to sit on the right side of Jesus in the kingdom, an indication that they still misunderstand the mission about which Jesus has been teaching. Blind Bartimaeus exclaims for joy when he encounters Jesus, whom he recognizes as the Son of David, and asks to be healed of his blindness; Bartimaeus regains his sight and follows Jesus.
I repeat here two of the pivotal points made in the preceding chapter, the first pertaining to this chapter, and the second identifying a section that contains the three predictions, this latter from NISB.:
10:1-31 - Teaching on Divorce; Blessing of Children; the Rich Man
10:32-34 - Third Passion Prediction (Son of Man will be handed over, condemned to death, mocked, spat upon, scourged, put to death, but will rise after three days)
10:35-40 - James and John misunderstand, asking for the seats of honor when Jesus is in "glory"
10:41-45 - Jesus teaches: "Whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all. For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many."
10:46-52 - The Immediate Restoration of Sight to Blind Bartimaeus outside of Jericho, on the way to Jerusalem
Pasted from <http://catholic-resources.org/Bible/Mark-Outlines.htm>
What next follows is a section that contains the three predictions about arrest, trial, death, and resurrection that culminates in the healing of yet another blind person, Blind Bartimaeus, who recognizes Jesus of Nazareth as "Jesus, Son of David," the first time Jesus is called "Son of David" and connects the entire Galilean mission to the City of David and the triumphal entry of Jesus into it (chapter 11). The first section ends then with a suggestion--proximity--of a connection between "Messiah" and "Son of David." What must inevitably follow is what Jesus does in Jerusalem.
(8:22-10:52)--surrounded by giving of sight stories, organized around three teaching sections following major misunderstanding by the disciples, with each of the teaching sections introduced by a predictions of Jesus' upcoming arrest, trial, death, and resurrection. The last part of the Gospel (11:1-16:8) is also divided at another point (14:1-16:8).
After reiterating the connection between Son of David and Messiah, a next point of departure for understanding this final Galilean section may well be found prior to the healing of Blind Bartimaeus in verse 45: "For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve and to give his life a ransom for many." Three groups of those marginalized by society precede this emphasis upon serving: women, children, and the poor. The teaching about divorce appears more as a prohibition against re-marriage and reflects Gentile rather than Jewish customs (NRSB); here, women can be the offended partners and can ask for divorce from their husbands, although clearly, God intended the ideal: husband and wife as "one flesh." The important point is that the prohibition is directed to both men and women; it must be remembered, however, that the Pharisees have introduced the question as a test. The disciples receive the full interpretation in a private teaching.
The next section has parallels to that in 9:42, where Jesus teaches the welcoming of "little ones" rather than putting a stumbling block before them. Here, the disciples speak sternly to those parents bringing children to Jesus to be blessed; Jesus speaks plainly, "it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs" (14).
Likewise, in the next story, the disciples again become perplexed about the teaching that wealth can prevent people from entering the kingdom of God. Ironically, Peter grumbles that the disciples have left everything and followed Jesus (29). The next two verses remain somewhat problematic; Michael Turton has provided a gloss to these that explains the verses as anachronistic, textual corruption, a doublet, and typology:
31: But many that are first will be last, and the last first."
v31: Some exegetes have seen this as an exhortation to service, or a prediction of who will be in the Kingdom (the least), or simply as an uncontextualized saying tacked onto the end of the pericope. Reading this against the writer's constant denigration on the disciples, I see this as a prediction of their future behavior. But many that are first on the list of the Twelve in Mark 3 will be last to fall away when the tribulation comes, culminating in Peter, the very first name on the list, and the last disciple to deny him, and the last, Judas, will be the first to betray me." Read that way, the final line is then in context with the previous several verses, especially as "the hundredfold" in v30 takes the reader back to the Parable of the Sower, and thence to the typology that identifies the role of the disciples in the Gospel of Mark.
Pasted from <http://www.michaelturton.com/Mark/GMark10.html>
Whatever interpretation ultimately the reader settles upon, the passage contrasts two ages: "this age" and "the age to come" (30). The pivotal point may well be that the disciples have set their eyes on the wrong age and the wrong values. It will be recalled that Jesus, in chapter eight, rebuked Peter for setting his mind on "human things" rather than the "divine" (33); true followers are to "deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me" (34). Here, losing life for the sake of the gospel means saving life; the teaching in chapter ten is that the first will be last and the last will be first (31).
Ironically, once again, James and John want to be granted their request to sit at the right and left side of Jesus in glory, a privilege Jesus reminds them that has already been prepared; readers will remember that the two criminals crucified with Jesus take the right and left hand positions. Jesus asks if they will be able to drink the cup he drinks or be baptized with the baptism with which he is baptized, and all too confidently, they reply, "We are able," and Jesus seems to reply, "So be it." Jesus reminds them that they should not seek the ways of the world, with its tyrannizing rulers, but that they must choose to serve in order to be great (44).
Chapter ten ends appropriately, as remarked by the NISB: "At the end of the Galilean ministry, the son of Timaeus exemplifies the perfect disciple or follower of Jesus, one who has faith, not fear."
This may be, perhaps, an ideal point to introduce a literary interpretation which argues the Passion does not belong to mythology but rather provides an alternative answer to mythology; two points should introduce the idea, how to understand Peter's denial, and exactly how Christianity insists upon a non-mythological interpretation:
Peter spectacularly illustrates this mimetic contagion. When surrounded by people hostile to Jesus, he imitates their hostility. He obeys the same mimetic force, ultimately, as Pilate and Herod. Even the thieves crucified with Jesus obey that force and feel compelled to join the crowd. And yet, I think, the Gospels do not seek to stigmatize Peter, or the thieves, or the crowd as a whole, or the Jews as a people, but to reveal the enormous power of mimetic contagion-a revelation valid for the entire chain of murders stretching from the Passion back to "the foundation of the world."
We hear nowadays that, behind every text and every event, there are an infinite number of interpretations, all more or less equivalent. Mimetic victimization makes the absurdity of this view manifest. Only two possible reactions to the mimetic contagion exist, and they make an enormous difference. Either we surrender and join the persecuting crowd, or we resist and stand alone. The first way is the unanimous self- deception we call mythology. The second way is the road to the truth followed by the Bible.
Rene Girard's article, "Are the Gospels Mythical? ( First Things 62, April 1996: 27-31), outlines a convincing distinction between mythology and Christianity, remarking largely the characteristics essential to mythology: cosmic or social crisis, suffering of a mysterious victim, triumphal return of sufferer, a kind of revealed divinity. Where Christianity departs from myth is within the innocence of the sufferer:
Beginning with the story of Cain and Abel, the Bible proclaims the innocence of mythical victims and the guilt of their victimizers. Living after the widespread promulgation of the gospel, we find this natural and never pause to think that in classical myths the opposite is true: the persecutors always seem to have a valid cause to persecute their victims. The Dionysiac myths regard even the most horrible lynchings as legitimate. Pentheus in the Bacchae is legitimately slain by his mother and sisters, for his contempt of the god Dionysus is a fault serious enough to warrant his death. Oedipus, too, deserves his fate. According to the myth, he has truly killed his father and married his mother, and is thus truly responsible for the plague that ravages Thebes. To cast him out is not merely a permissible action, but a religious duty.
Even if they are not accused of any crime, mythical victims are still supposed to die for a good cause, and their innocence makes their deaths no less legitimate. In the Vedic myth of Purusha, for instance, no wrongdoing is mentioned-but the tearing apart of the victim is nonetheless a holy deed. The pieces of Purusha's body are needed to create the three great castes, the mainstay of Indian society. In myth, violent death is always justified.
If the violence of myths is purely mimetic-if it is like the Passion, as Jesus says-all these justifications are false. And yet, since they systematically reverse the true distribution of innocence and guilt, such myths cannot be purely fictional. They are lies, certainly, but the specific kind of lie called for by mimetic contagion-the false accusation that spreads mimetically throughout a disturbed human community at the climax when scandals polarize against the single scapegoat whose death reunites the community. The myth-making machine is the mimetic contagion that disappears behind the myth it generates.
There is nothing secret about the justifications espoused by myths; the stereotypical accusations of mob violence are always available when the search for scapegoats is on. In the Gospels, however, the scapegoating machinery is fully visible because it encounters opposition and no longer operates efficiently. The resistance to the mimetic contagion prevents the myth from taking shape. The conclusion in the light of the Gospels is inescapable: myths are the voice of communities that unanimously surrender to the mimetic contagion of victimization.
This interpretation is reinforced by the optimistic endings of myths. The conjunction of the guilty victim and the reconciled community is too frequent to be fortuitous. The only possible explanation is the distorted representation of unanimous victimization. The violent process is not effective unless it fools all witnesses, and the proof that it does, in the case of myths, is the harmonious and cathartic conclusion, rooted in a perfectly unanimous murder...
Obeying perfectly the anti-mimetic prescriptions he recommends, Jesus has not the slightest tendency toward mimetic rivalry and victimization. And he dies, paradoxically, because of this perfect innocence. He becomes a victim of the process from which he will liberate mankind. When one man alone follows the prescriptions of the kingdom of God it seems an intolerable provocation to all those who do not, and this man automatically designates himself as the victim of all men. This paradox fully reveals "the sin of the world," the inability of man to free himself from his violent ways.
Mimetic contagion means surrendering and joining the persecuting crowd; the way of Christ means resisting and standing alone.