Lent Week 5—Thursday
Psalm 140 Exodus 7:25-8:19 2 Corinthians 3:7-18 Mark 10:17-31
The Gospel reading today is perhaps one of the most timelessly relevant stories in the New Testament. It begins with the question, “What must I do to inherit eternal life? Jesus answers this earnest question, as any devout Jewish rabbi might, by reciting the Ten Commandments. The man who asked the question responds, 20 ‘Teacher, I have kept all these since my youth.’ He is probably feeling pretty good about himself at this point. Mark relates that 21Jesus looks at the supplicant, loves him, and then delivers the blow that shatters his aspirations. ‘You lack one thing,’ Jesus tells him. ‘Go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.’ This is more than the man can do for he has many possessions, and he goes away crestfallen.
Jesus uses the episode as a teachable moment for his disciples. ‘How hard it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!’ he exclaims, and Mark tells us the disciples were “perplexed” by this. So, Jesus tells them, 25’ It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.’ Their reaction to this statement is exactly what you might expect today. 26 ’Then who can be saved?’ they ask in shock. It’s so familiar it’s almost funny. Jesus reassures them, that 27it is impossible for mortals, but not for God. ‘For God all things are possible.’
Peter, the hothead, speaks for all of us, in essence, when he says, “Look, Lord, we have left everything to follow you!” But Jesus remains calm, and he tells his disciples what they need to hear. 29’There is no one,’ who has sacrificed worldly things ‘for my sake and for the sake of the good news,’ who will not be rewarded a hundredfold now and in the age to come–with the caveat that ‘many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.’
Having had some moments in my own life when I wondered how in the world I was going to pay for some necessity only to have the means provided in the nick of time, I have always read this scripture as a story about trust and faith, but I think it is also a reminder that the things of this world cause us to reorder our priorities, not in a good way. It is not what we have but what we do that matters if we are to follow the teachings of Jesus and fulfill the dream of God.