Sunday 11 October 2015

Bible Book:

“But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.” (v. 31)

Mark 10:17-31 Sunday 11 October 2015

Psalm: Psalm 90


Sometimes Jesus could be quite exasperating! He seems at firstto accept the conventional Jewish idea that faithful obedience tothe commandments is all that is required in order to "inheriteternal life" (v. 17). Underlying this was the belief, shared bymany 1st-century Jews, that one day there will be a resurrection ofthe dead, and the 'righteous' (who have kept the commandments) willthen live forever in a renewed earth. (It is interesting that allthe commandments Jesus lists are to do with the integrity of humanrelationships, including one that is not in the Ten Commandments -the one about defrauding (verse 19).) And this exceptional youngman can tick all those boxes. But then Jesus suggests that there ismore at stake than just eternal life - what about "treasure inheaven" (v. 21), or additional merit in God's sight? This was abelief, held by some pious Jews, that 'heavenly treasure' was worthfar more than 'earthly treasure', and, if the young man wasserious, he must be willing to let go of the very thing that, formany other Jews, would identify him as already at the front of thequeue - his personal wealth. But this was a step too far forhim.

Jesus then goes on to identify "treasure in heaven" with "thekingdom of God" (v. 23). By now the disciples were understandablyconfused! Jesus then underlined his point about wealth being anobstacle to entry to the kingdom by referring to the obviousimpossibility of a camel being threaded through the eye of a needle(verse 25). More confusion. But they, like us, may have missed thepoint: Jesus had re-written the rules. Eternal life in God'skingdom depends on four things - personal integrity,self-sacrifice, following him (whatever the cost) - and thelimitless goodness of God. Treasure in heaven is not cheap - it iscostly for us and, as Jesus went on to prove, costly for himtoo.

To Ponder

  • Jesus seems to suggest here that personal integrity (especiallyin human relationships) and self-sacrifice are prerequisites forfollowing him and 'inheriting eternal life'. For many Christians,though, their 'faith' (and God's grace) is all that matters. How doyou balance 'behaviour' and 'belief'?
  • Did Jesus lay a general responsibility on the wealthy toredistribute their wealth to the poor, becoming poor themselves inthe process, or does this only apply to those who are called tofollow him? Was this ever a realistic or sustainable option? Howmight this influence the way you vote in the next GeneralElection?
  • "But many who are first will be last, and the last will befirst." In Mark's Gospel, the usual social order of rich-poor;men-women; adult-child; master-servant is often reversed. Whatevidence do you see of this in the church today?


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