Today’s reading was Mark 10:17-31
17 As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
18 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. 19 You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud, honor your father and mother.’”
20 “Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.”
21 Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
22 At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.
23 Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!”
24 The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”
26 The disciples were even more amazed, and said to each other, “Who then can be saved?”
27 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.”
28 Then Peter spoke up, “We have left everything to follow you!”
29 “Truly I tell you,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel 30 will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life. 31 But many who are first will be last, and the last first.
In this story, Jesus is radically redefining what it means to be blessed. In Jewish thought, God’s blessing was indicated by wealth, fruitfulness (children) and other temporal blessings such as health and a good harvest. According to that understanding, this rich man would have been considered blessed. Not only that, but he was a faithful Jew who had kept the commandments. You would think that would be enough.
Not for Jesus. Through this exchange, Jesus reveals that these external markers are actually inferior to the state of a person’s heart. And he knows that in this man’s heart, he holds his wealth more tightly to him than his relationship with God. And so he challenges him on that very point: “One thing you lack…” It’s incredible that the things that the world sees as a big PLUS, Jesus views as a MINUS. This is a man who, from all outward appearances, lacks nothing. But Jesus hones in on the real issue.
As I’m reading this, I’m wondering if Jesus were to have that conversation with me, what sentence would follow, “One thing you lack.”?
What would he want me to give up, or to hold on to less tightly? What would it be for you? Why don’t you spend a moment in prayer right now and ask him.
Welcome back. In the world’s eyes, this itinerant ragtag group of disciples were not worth much. But in the economy of Jesus, they are world-changers, and they will receive something of value a hundred times more, both in this life, and in the life to come. I’m no economist, but this sounds like a great deal to me.
And I think this is the point, that when Jesus asks us to give something up, whether that is something bad like a harmful addiction or habit, or even something good that we have in the wrong place in the priority list, he does it not to be mean, but because he has something better for us.
Today, there may be something you need to let go. There may be something you need to shift in your list. Do it, knowing that what God has for you is immeasurably better.