Monday, June 4th. Mark 10:17-22

As he was setting out on a journey, a man ran up and knelt before him, and asked him, ‘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. You know the commandments: “You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; You shall not defraud; Honor your father and mother.” ’ He said to him, ‘Teacher, I have kept all these since my youth.’ 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.’ When he heard this, he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions.  Mark 10:17-22


The story begins with a young man going on a journey.  Normally, one prepares for going on journeys.  You carefully pack just what you need.  Not too little because you don’t want to arrive unprepared at your destination.  Not too much because it is irritating to pay an extra $50 for an airplane ticket for your suitcase.


You just take what you need.  Which varies, of course, by your own sense of what you need.  (Me?  A pair of pants can last a week but I bring another in case I spill.)


So we’re assuming he is all packed up and ready to go on his journey.  He might even be in a hurry to leave…although I doubt it.  (Why hurry when your journey will happen on foot or on a horse or camel that will pretty much travel at the speed that a horse or a camel is willing to go.)  But the text says that the man “ran up and knelt before” Jesus.  So he was either in a hurry or there was a certain intensity about everything this young man does.


Notice that I’ve twice called him a “young” man…but the text here in Mark is silent as to his age.  Not so inMatthew 19where Matthew calls him a “young man.” Luke 18calls him a “ruler.”  Neither Matthew nor Luke mention Jesus “loving” the man as he points out the one thing he lacks.  All of which I find fascinating because it tells me that the writers of Matthew and Luke, both of which wrote with copies of Mark available to them, once had to wrestle with this text in the same way that we are doing today.  But we, rather than improving Mark, will simply listen and allow the text to speak to us.


Does it make a difference whether or not this man is young or not?  Of course it does. A young man asking the “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” is simply setting himself up for how to really succeed in life, how to really have it all.  Perhaps especially a privileged young man with a family legacy to live up to.  A young man asking that question is an ambitious striver who doesn’t want to miss out on anything.  He is setting out on a journey, secure in the hope that there will be many journeys ahead of him in a life that seemingly stretches out forever.


But an older man?  An older man who has already done all that was necessary to acquire a fortune and has now learned the painful lesson that riches might allow him to be unhappy in lots of interesting places but it doesn’t change his root unhappiness.  Older men don’t run…so if this man was older, he was also desperate to know the answer to eternal life…for he could very well be setting out on his last journey.


Either way, the answer is the same.  Keep the commandments and lose the extra baggage.


Mark, Matthew and Luke all tell us the man turns, dejected, and walks away grieving.  Only Mark tells us that Jesus loves him.


Sometimes we regret asking certain questions.  For once asked, we must then live the rest of our lives with the answer.


Let us pray:  Gracious Lord, we begin another week this morning.  We are preparing for a busy day at home, at work, many of us working to earn our daily bread.  As we walk our own journeys through life, open our hearts to take stock of our stuff.  Help us understand what “enough” means for us and remind us of our call to see that all people have enough.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.


2 Responses to “Monday, June 4th. Mark 10:17-22”

  1. Gloria Smith-Rockhold Says:

    I just returned from a trip to the Holy Land with a whole new understanding about what it meant to “travel” in that area of the world in Jesus’ time. Lots of hills, valleys, mountains, rocks. One could not leave home without being prepared for the journey. I know I would not have been able to take along so much stuff! And we had good roads to drive on! Lots of walking also but then we climbed in to an airconditioned bus! No such luxury for our Lord and his disciples. What a blessing to see the places where Jesus ministered, where he rested, worked, met the people. It was just such an awesome experience.

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