Lesson for Chapel Services on Wednesday, October 17, 2018
Mark 10: 17-31
A READING FROM THE BOOK OF MARK
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.
Then Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” And the disciples were perplexed at these words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” They were greatly astounded and said to one another, “Then who can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “For mortals it is impossible, but not for God; for God all things are possible.”
Peter began to say to him, “Look, we have left everything and followed you.” Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields, for my sake and the sake of the good news, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this age – houses, brothers and sisters, mothers and children, and fields, with persecutions – and in the age to come eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.”
THE WORD OF THE LORD
and the People respond, “Thanks be to God.”
I grew up calling Mark 10: 17-22 the story of “The Rich Young Ruler.” My New Revised Standard Version of the Bible now simply calls it “The Rich Man.” The text in Mark tells us he was rich. He had many possessions. What would make us think he was young and a ruler? We could assume he was a ruler just because he was rich. What about young? Could it be that he comes off as being rather naïve in his statement that he has kept all the commandments since his youth? How many of us could make such a claim?
In the end, the rich man was shocked when Jesus told him he had to sell all of his possessions and give the money to the poor. How many of us could live into that teaching? He goes away grieving and that is the last we hear from him. Or is it? Is it possible that he thought about Jesus’ instructions, prayed over his decision and went back to Jesus at a later time?
How easy it is for possessions to possess us. I pray each night for the power to let go of at least some of my stuff. Books and china are my favorite collectibles, followed by linens and furniture. I can feel them drawing me nearer as I write!
Dear Lord, spare us from the baited trap of materialism.
Though we need and appreciate those things in life that provide for us, sustain us, and make us comfortable, may they never be the center of our heart’s desire.
May we worship you instead of bowing down to other gods that will forsake us.