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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Today’s Scripture Reading | 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. (NRSV)

I remember my best friend telling me to be careful when I asked for some relationship advice. I was having difficulty with one of my sons and thought I had all the “right” parenting answers. After all, I had read Dr. Spock’s On Parenting. “Do you really want me to answer?” she asked. I said yes and then listened as she told me what I didn’t want to hear. I left mad.

In today’s lesson from Mark, the rich man asks Jesus a question about how he can “inherit eternal life.” He seems to have it all: wealth, humility, and social status. He also seems to do it all. He honors his parents and obeys all the commandments. When Jesus gives him an answer he doesn’t like, the rich man goes away sad.

My initial reaction: good luck fitting through the eye of that needle, rich man.

I then focused on the words “Jesus, looking at him, loved him.” Jesus’ answer—to have the rich man give away his possessions—was not meant to shame or browbeat him but to love him. Jesus’ call was a call to a life of discipleship. His words “come” and “follow” recall Jesus’ other calls to discipleship. Jesus tells the rich man to give away his possessions—his earthly baggage—for the young man’s own benefit, saying, “You will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.”

Although we never hear from the rich man again, I’d like to think that even though he went home sad he eventually accepts God’s love and follows Jesus. In my fictional ending, the rich man trusts Jesus; it is the only security he needs.

If only it was that easy to follow Jesus’ advice.

Dear God, please let me accept your answers, even when they make me mad or sad. Amen.

Written by Phil Calian, Member of Fourth Presbyterian Church

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