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Today's Daily Devotion from the United Reformed Church
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St Mark 10: 10:17-31

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; Honour 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 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, with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life. But 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, ‘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; Honour 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 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, with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.’
 
Reflection
This is a passage which is, and should be, deeply troubling for us. A man asks a question of Jesus and gets an answer which dismays him. To follow Jesus, to even become a follower, do I really need to sell everything that I possess? Does that include my flat, my car, my bicycles, my record player, my books, even the laptop that I'm writing this reflection on? That's not going to be easy for me. And, while we might think that we aren't rich so it doesn't apply to us, in a world where around hundreds of millions of people live in extreme poverty anyone who has enough food to eat and solid shelter over their heads is rich.

But perhaps the problem is that the rich man asks the wrong question. He doesn't ask how he can follow God more closely, or how he can build and promote justice. Instead, he asks what he needs to do to inherit eternal life. He essentially asks how he can be perfect, and so he gets an impossible answer. This discourages him enough that he doesn't stay around to hear the next part of Jesus' teaching – for a rich person to enter the Kingdom might be very, very difficult, but for God all things are possible. Giving away all our possessions is not an entrance test to become a disciple. However, that doesn't mean that this passage doesn't challenge us to think seriously about our own privilege and wealth, and there is nothing in it to suggest that wealth is anything other than a burden to overcome. But if we want to help others using what we have, we shouldn't do so with the expectation of a reward, either now or in the future.
 

Prayer

Gracious and all loving God,
source of all our blessings,
we pray for people who do not have material wealth,
who struggle to feed themselves and their families.
We ask that you will help us to consider
what we can do with the possessions and power we hold
to build justice in place of injustice,
plenty in place of poverty,
and to distribute the world's resources more fairly.

Today's Writer

Nick Jones is an ordinand at Westminster College and a member of Bramhall URC in Stockport.

Bible Version

 

New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised Bible: © 1989, 1995 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved
Copyright © 2017 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


 
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