Mark 10:17-31 “The Rich Man and Jesus”
Bible Background: It’s important to know that Mark 10 shows Jesus on the way to the cross. He has spoken seriously about what it means to follow him. This story is about a good man, who seeks to follow Jesus, but is held back by his possessions.
Digging Deeper: 1. Everything we know about this guy who comes to Jesus is good: He is respectful (kneels before Jesus); He is a seeker (seeking more in his life); He knows and keeps the commandments. When we learn that he’s rich, that-in Jewish tradition-would suggest he has been blessed by God (as riches were viewed as a sign of blessing.) He is a good person!
2. Jesus’ response “Why do you call me good?” sounds odd, but is very appropriate. Jesus is being humble, and directing the man’s thoughts to God. Jesus is basically underscoring the 1st commandment.
3. The commandments Jesus lists are from the ‘2nd table’, having to do with our love of neighbor. Added to that is an extra, “do not defraud!” That’s interesting! But think about how easy or tempting it is-when you have riches-to use that wealth and power to take advantage of someone else!
4. “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.'” Two things come to mind: Jesus says this in love. He sees/knows what the man is looking for and needs. He also sees that the man’s connection to his neighbors (the poor) is one thing he lacks. It is possible to ‘keep’ the commandments-and not do anything wrong-without really doing anything good!
5. This leaves the man shocked and grieving. It leaves the disciples shocked too! “If a good guy like this can’t get into heaven, how can any of us be saved???” This is one of those places where clearly it’s not our merit that saves us, but simply God’s grace. “For God, all things are possible!”
6. This leads Peter to blurt out “Look, we have left everything and followed you!” Jesus’ promise is that they not only have treasure in heaven (in the life to come), but they are rewarded now (in this age), in ways that more than make up for what they have sacrificed.
7. Picture Jesus looking on you in love: What might he see that you lack? How might he be able to supply what you lack?