Wednesday, 17 May 2023
As He was setting out on a journey, a man ran up to Him and knelt before Him, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” -Mark 10:17
In today’s reading from Mark 10, we have an account of a rich young ruler who seeks Jesus to know how he can inherit eternal life. Jesus’ response to this young man reveals that following Jesus and being His disciple calls for radically transformed and committed lives.
The young man’s question was: “…what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” (Vs 17) This wealthy man’s earthly inheritance could not make way for him to inherit eternal life. Inheritance in heaven comes only by being a member of God’s family. The way has been opened by God, to be reconciled to Him through His Son’s sacrifice on the cross of Calvary – that we may not die in sin but inherit eternal life (John 3:16).
However, the young man’s understanding of salvation was limited to doing good works and keeping the Law. Keeping the Law cannot justify a person; it can only bring an awareness of sin. For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law. (Romans 3:28) Salvation is by God’s grace through faith and not a result of our works. (Ephesians 2:8-9) Are we also at times trying to earn our salvation through a mundane obedience of God’s word, rather than trusting in the finished work of Christ and keeping His commandments because of our ardent love for Him?
We see that Jesus’ response to the young man’s question is in line with his understanding of salvation in the Old Testament times. Jesus quotes the Ten Commandments and it seems that he has followed all the Commandments. But God is not interested in obedience to the Law by the letter; His standards are different from ours – He looks into our heart and intentions. Jesus found one lack in him – He said, “One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” (Vs 21). That was a tough call for him as he was very wealthy.
Being wealthy is not a sin, but Jesus draws our attention to the First Commandment - ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ (Matthew 22:37) The young man’s love and attachment to his wealth was greater than his love for God. Are there similar barriers that prevent you from following the Lord—relationships, positions or possessions that you are unwillingly to let go of? Ask the Lord to help you overcome anything that you treasure more than your relationship with Him.
While the young man walked away disheartened, we see Peter respond, “Behold, we have left everything and followed You.” (Vs 28) This is the true mark of discipleship – giving God first priority in our lives and forsaking everything of the world to follow Him. Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.” (Matthew 16:24). There is a cost of discipleship in this world, but the glorious reward that awaits us is far more precious.
Think on: “Truly I tell you,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life.” (Mark 10:29-30)