The Rich Young Man
Mark 10:17-31 - The Rich Man
As he was setting out on a journey, a man ran up and knelt before him, and asked him, ‘Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ Jesus said to him, ‘Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: “You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; You shall not defraud; Honour your father and mother.” ’ He said to him, ‘Teacher, I have kept all these since my youth.’ Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, ‘You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.’ When he heard this, he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions.
Then Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, ‘How hard it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!’ And the disciples were perplexed at these words. But Jesus said to them again, ‘Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! 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.’ They were greatly astounded and said to one another, ‘Then who can be saved?’ Jesus looked at them and said, ‘For mortals it is impossible, but not for God; for God all things are possible.’
Peter began to say to him, ‘Look, we have left everything and followed you.’ Jesus said, ‘Truly I tell you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields, for my sake and for the sake of the good news, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this age—houses, brothers and sisters, mothers and children, and fields, with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.’
The truth is that our God calls us to leave behind those things that will distract us away from these two things – love God and love neighbor. For some that will mean a hard look at their money and why they do the things they do. For others, it will lead them to give up everything to follow the call of Jesus – much in the same way missionaries and the disciples did. Which is a wonderful calling if God calls you to that particular ministry – but for many, the answer to follow happens in smaller ways. Like when we give up an evening to volunteer at Cradles to Crayons, or we remember to grab that cereal box for CNC while we are out grocery shopping, or that we think about our elderly neighbor when the leaves start to fall and we help get their house ready for winter. Sometimes it happens as we gather around a table and receive bread in our hands and wine on our lips – physical reminders of how God does the impossible in our lives and in our world. Sometimes it’s as we witness a baptism as God saves another soul and marks them with the promise of eternal life – not based on what they have done, but simply on the fact that we have a God who does the impossible – loves us even when we don’t deserve it. Did you notice that Jesus “look at the Young Man and loved him?
The young man’s question, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” can ironically be answered in a simple word. Nothing. Absolutely nothing. The truth is that YOU can’t DO anything to inherit eternal live. Only God can answer that question. But if you want to know what it means to follow after Jesus, if you want to know what it’s like to live in the kingdom of God – then pay attention to how the law orients us towards our neighbors in need and into a relationship with God. In today’s self-righteous culture, it may be impossible to accept that we don’t have to do anything to earn salvation. But it’s the only way our God will have it, because God loves us that much that he sent us Jesus. Because for mortals it’s impossible, but for God all things are possible. And thanks be to God that Jesus answered the question of eternal life for us with the cross, reminding us that eternal life and resurrection are possible! Amen.