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Third Lesson (Mark 10: 1-52)

Building on the developing theme of a revisioning of power relations and the image of a child, an extended teaching section is presented in chapter 10. Included are three teaching episodes having to do with the household: marriage and divorce, children, wealth. In each case, Jesus reverses the values of the hierarchical status quo, in which men are valued over women, adults over children, and the rich over the poor. In first-century Judaism, divorce could be initiated only by a husband, not by a wife (although women of means could initiate divorce in the larger Greco-Roman world). Adultery was considered an offense of one man against another man’s honor and property; a man (even a married man) who had sexual relations with another man’s wife wronged her husband (not his own wife). But Jesus calls anyone— man or woman—who divorces a spouse and marries another an adulterer against the first spouse—woman or man. Men are not to be valued over women in the new household. Nor are children to be less valued than adults. Jesus again takes children into his arms, something women were more likely do, and critiques the disciples for keeping them away—as if protecting Jesus’ time for more important work with adults. Anyone who would enter the realm of God must receive it as a gift like a powerless child, not as one ordering others what to do…

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