March 14, 2018
Jesus is traveling in Judea now, no longer Galilee. A recruit asks ‘what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ It’s connected with Monday’s threat and Tuesday’s hope.
Jesus distinguishes himself from God: ‘only God is good’. So much for a Jesus without sin, or a ‘high Christology’ where Jesus knows he is really God, like John’s Jesus.
Can you list the 10 commandments, let alone claim to follow them? Jesus cites numbers 6-10, then number 5. He cites the second tablet, not the first – and then the hinge. Remember, Mark has no Christmas story, and starts with guys abandoning their parents to follow, and Jesus denying his family!
Anyhow, the lad says he follows all those commandments – so Jesus says give up all your stuff in this world, for treasure in heaven. The guy is shocked, and goes grieving. Grief for what he will give up? Grief that he can’t comply, so will be denied admission to heaven? Can’t we be good and affluent? Not today, according to Mark.
To follow up, sounding almost like Luke’s gospel, Mark gives us the moral of the ‘camel through the eye of a needle’, then the figure itself. You really get warned about trying to get from here to there with all your stuff.
So who can be saved? We all got stuff – our generation in this place, lots. Bottom line – you can’t save yourself – but God might….
Peter tries to self-justify, claiming to have given up everything. Jesus counters that anything and anybody you give up for Jesus and the gospel, will get a hundredfold now in this age – including persecution – and oh yeah eternal life. Not much altruism if the bet is that safe, the payoff guaranteed now and later. It’s ‘Pascal’s wager.’
Another aphorism to end the day:
many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.
As he was setting out on a journey,
a man ran up and knelt before him,
and asked him,
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;
Honour your father and mother.”
He said to him,
I have kept all these since my youth.’
Jesus, looking at him,
‘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,
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
‘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.’
‘Truly I tell you,
there is no one who has left house
or brothers or sisters
or mother or father
for my sake
and for 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,
and in the age to come
But many who are first will be last,
and the last will be first.’