Scripture: Mark 10:17-31
Key verse: (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.”
Reflection: Ouch! If this story doesn’t make you uncomfortable, then you must not be paying attention! The rich man wants to inherit eternal life. It’s a weird question because you usually “inherit” something because you are loved by the one who has left it to you. Jesus answers with a weird answer about God’s goodness and then with a quick litany of some of the ten commandments. Jesus chose the commandments often considered the “second tablet” that focus on the relationships we have with other people. Don’t murder. Don’t commit adultery. Don’t steal. And the rich man responds “I have kept all of these since my youth.”
The rich man understands faith to be transactional. What do I DO to inherit eternal life? And if I keep this list of commandments, what will I receive for it?
Jesus understands faith to be a gift and faithfulness to be a life living out love. He looked at the rich man, loved him (Mark makes a point to tell us!) and then tells him the one thing he lacks. Sell it all and give the money away to the poor in order to follow Jesus. Love Jesus more than anything else. Love Jesus more than your stuff, your lifestyle, your reputation, your accomplishments.
Discipleship is a journey and can never be reduced to a list of things to do (darn!). As soon as you get the list done (I have kept all of these), Jesus loves you enough to tell you the one thing you lack. I wonder if the man had sold it all and returned to Jesus, if Jesus would have said “Great. Now here’s what’s next.”
In this difficult time, we have an opportunity to examine our priorities. What matters the most to us? How can we shift our priorities so that following Jesus becomes the most important thing? What can you do today to live out your love for God and neighbor? If Jesus looked at you, loved you, and said “you lack one thing…” what would he say next? You might flinch at the answer but it’s the path of abundant life!
Prayer: Dear God, thank you for loving me even when I make mistakes. Thank you for loving me now, as I face the tremendous challenges of these days. Give me clarity about what it means to follow Jesus today. Empower me to live out love. Amen.
Author: Millie Snyder
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].