In Mark 10, everyone wants the Kingdom and the King. Just as in the rest of Mark’s Gospel, however, many people see the Kingdom through their personal idolatries.
In U2’s “The Wanderer,” the main character encounters people with such perverted conceptions:
I stopped outside a church house
Where the citizens like to sit.
They say they want the kingdom
But they don’t want God in it.
The very same dynamic is at work in Mark 10. It’s not that some people want Jesus and some people don’t. Everyone wants the Kingdom. There are constant requests made of Jesus, and Jesus twice asks, “what do you want me to do for you?” (vv. 36, 51).
But there are good and bad ways of wanting the Kingdom. There’s a desire for the Kingdom that keeps us from it, and there’s a way of desiring the Kingdom that allows us to enter it.
The Pharisees ask Jesus about divorce to determine whether they’ll follow him. Their distorted reading of the Law allows them to maintain power in their marriages. They want to hold the threat of divorce over their wives. But Jesus emphasizes that both husbands and wives are responsible to love one another.
Entering the Kingdom demands power-surrender and self-giving love.
The rich young man wants the Kingdom, too, but he can’t give up his idolatries and goes away disappointed. Entering the Kingdom demands living with an open hand, sharing possessions with others in God’s family.
Jesus’ disciples want the Kingdom for the promise of prestige and prominence. But entering the Kingdom demands that we become servants to everyone.
Blind Bartimaeus is the only character commended in Mark 10. His name, “son of honor,” is a standing reminder of how little honor he has. He’s despised and treated dismissively by others.
Unlike everyone else in the narrative, however, Bartimaeus wants the Kingdom for the right reasons. Though he’s blind and wants to have his sight restored, Bartimaeus is the only one with a proper vision of the King and the Kingdom.
He doesn’t want power, prominence, riches, or prestige. He wants what Jesus is offering—restoration.
Desiring the Kingdom rightly demands love, power-surrender, servant-hood, and longing for restoration.