Year B – Proper 23 – Mark 10:17–31

Mark 10:17–31 NRSV –    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?” 10:18 Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. 10:19 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; Honor your father and mother.’” 10:20 He said to him, “Teacher, I have kept all these since my youth.” 10:21 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.” 10:22 When he heard this, he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions. 10:23 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!” 10:24 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! 10:25 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.” 10:26 They were greatly astounded and said to one another, “Then who can be saved?” 10:27 Jesus looked at them and said, “For mortals it is impossible, but not for God; for God all things are possible.” 10:28 Peter began to say to him, “Look, we have left everything and followed you.” 10:29 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, 10:30 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. 10:31 But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.”

Summary – This passage usually goes by the label, The Rich Young Ruler. This RYR claimed to keep the commandments, but when Jesus challenged him to “go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me” – he declined. He failed to keep the First Commandment: worshiping the Lord alone. Then Jesus comments that it is hard for the rich to enter into the kingdom. But Peter then points out that disciples did just that, they left all to follow Jesus. What will we receive? To this Jesus makes clear that they will receive much, in this life and the very inheritance the RYR was seeking, eternal life in the age to come.

Insight – Have you ever been down a road that ended with a T or a split into two directions? The road you were on ended, now what? This is what happened to those who met Jesus.  Jews in that day seeking the life of the Messianic age to come found themselves at the end of the historic purpose of the Mosaic Law. Now a new road must be chosen. You don’t get to these two new roads until you travel all the way down the road of Israel’s following of Torah-Law. But at the end of this Law-road, they could turn to the Pharisaic Law-keeping direction. Or they could turn to the Fulfillment of the Law, Jesus. This young man was zealous to keep the Law. He came to Jesus to seek advice. What further Law faithfulness must I do, Jesus? But Jesus was the other road to take. Jesus own words here sorted out whether this man had the heart to follow the Law all the way to the new Road. The new road would be marked not by allegiance to Moses Law, though that was a revelation of God’s character. Now the final revelation had come, Jesus. Follow me, says Jesus. The way to inherit the eternal life of the age to come is to follow the Messiah of the Age to Come into the age to come. By following Him, one will keep the moral aspects of the Law (of course), but by Not following Him, no amount of Law keeping will bring eternal life.

Catechism – What must we do to inherit eternal life? We must follow Jesus to inherit eternal life.

Discussion – Why did Jesus speak of God alone being good to this Rich Young Ruler?

Prayer – God our Father, we thank you for revealing the true end and purpose of the Law, Jesus Christ. We ask that you would help us follow him, casting away all things that hinder us from serving him and using all of our blessings to honor and glorify him. We ask this in his name, Amen.