Mark 10: 13-31
Today’s reading seems to be the climax of chapter 10. This is where Mark ends a string of increasingly demanding and uncomfortable Jesus sayings. This bible reading, this text from Mark’s gospel, chafes and burns like sandpaper. It shows our discipleship as nothing but dirty rags.
“Turn the other cheek,” Jesus says somewhere else, and we remember the time when we angrily swore at the guy who stole our parking spot.
“Love your neighbour as yourself,” Jesus commands, and we remember when we crossed the street to avoid the homeless person coming our way.
“Go sell all you have and give it to the poor,” we overhear Jesus tell that rich, young, man. And we hope those words are meant only for him, because we don’t want Jesus to ask the same thing of us.
“It’s easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”
Ouch! What was personal for the young man all of sudden became uncomfortably universal.
It wasn’t as if this young man was a bad guy. He was your model Sunday school student. He knew the bible inside and out and he could recite the Ten Commandments backwards and forwards. He listened attentively in confirmation class, memorized the catechism, and turned in his worship notes ahead of time. He was the kid with all the right answers.
But Jesus cuts him no slack.
He was asking the question that was probably on everyone’s mind, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?”
That’s a great question, don’t you think? I’m guessing everyone has asked that question at one point in their life. But Jesus’ answer gives him no relief.
“If you want to inherit eternal life, you need to get rid of everything. Your house. Your car. Your job. Leave your wife and kids behind. Everything you believe to be true, everything you possess – even your relationships – leave it all behind and come follow me.”
That’s not quite what I had in mind, Jesus. Certainly, you mean you just want us to help out now and then at the soup kitchen; feeding those who can’t feed themselves.
“No, I want you.”
Jesus, of course you mean that you want me to give more money to the church. After all we have a building project we’re fundraising for.
“No, I want it all. Everything.”
C’mon Jesus, you mean to say that you want us to take our faith life more seriously, to read the bible more often, to pray more frequently, to attend church more regularly.
“No, I want your very life.”
Jesus, no one can do what you’re asking.
“Exactly. What you can’t do, God can.”