Sunday 14 October 2012

Bible Book:

"'Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?' Jesus said to him, 'Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone.'" (vv. 17b-18)

Mark 10:17-31 Sunday 14 October 2012


Since the beginning of September our Sunday readings have beenfrom the Gospel of Mark. Mark's Gospel is punctuated with powerfulquestions. Some of these are asked by those who question Jesus:"Good Teacher what must I do to inherit eternal life?" and some areasked by Jesus, "Why do you call me good?" The overarching questionwithin which all these questions are asked, is the two-partquestion of Jesus at Caesarea Philippi (Mark8:27-30): "Who do people say that I am?" and, "… but who do yousay that I am?"

This week's theme explores one of the early Church's answers tothat question: 'the eternal Christ'. Jesus is not simply a humanbeing, but is the logic of the universe made flesh - the saviour ofthe world who was present at the beginning of everything and whowill be present at the end of everything. It is therefore notsurprising that in this passage Mark presents Jesus as competent tohandle questions about eternal life (verses 17, 26, 30).

The urgency in the questions about eternal life for Jesus' andMark's contemporaries were 'how' questions: how to inherit eternallife; how to enter the kingdom of God; how to be 'saved'. For ourown time, perhaps the more urgent question is a 'what' question:'What is eternal life?' Sometimes Mark implies that it is a futureinheritance; sometimes that it is here in the present; often thatit is the same as the kingdom of God which Jesus brings near.Eternal life, then, is a quality of existence and relating which isgoverned by the presence and values of God - because of which manyhuman assumptions about money and status and relationships will beturned upside down (verse 31).

Inheriting eternal life, then, turns out not to be an esotericbusiness concerned with future and ethereal dimensions. Just as theeternal Christ is recognisable only in human flesh, so we come toknow eternal life only as we learn to handle money and status andrelationships on the earth.

To Ponder

  • What does the phrase, "eternal life" mean to you?
  • When was the last time you were asked a powerful question thatchanged your life? What was it? And what happened?
  • Are there any relationships or communities in which you mightbe the one who needs to ask a powerful question? And what mightthat be?
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