Mark 10:17-27 The Financial Trap
17 As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
18 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone.
This account is a fascinating story of a wealthy young man who was also a ruler basing on the other accounts of the gospel. When he saw Jesus, he came running to Jesus and fell on his knees. Based on this observation, we see that this man was desperately looking for something – meaning in life, a reason for the wealth and blessing he was receiving.
He then calls Jesus good teacher. But Jesus replied, why do you call me good? This was Jesus trying to say something to the man about what goodness is. For the man who knelt down before Jesus, his culture tells him that being rich and materially blessed is a sign that you have been morally good. And now that he was with Jesus, for sure Jesus goodness would surpass his goodness – yet Jesus said – why do you call me good.
It was the Lord pointing out to the man that you are not that good that you think you are. He then continued by saying the commandments of Moses.
19 You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud, honor your father and mother.”20 “Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.”
Jesus took the man at his word and did not show him areas of his life that he did not live out to the expectation of the law of Moses. It’s either the man was ultra-righteous to have kept all the commands, or he was blinded to the fact that he is a sinner who has failed in some areas of obedience.
21 Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.Then come, follow me.”
Jesus looked at him and loved him. What a statement! It reminds me of how God loves me in spite of my blindness to my sin and idols. Jesus loves me enough to tell me what I need to hear even when I don’t want to listen to it.
Then came the big blow. One thing you lack – a statement that some might not be able to say to a man who had it all. One thing you lack, or if we make it personal as we reflect on this passage – one thing I lack.
Can I let go of the material blessings in exchange for God? If I want God and His presence, if I am looking for meaning and purpose, then I have to change how I see success and prosperity. Jesus knew that the love of wealth was the reason that is holding back the rich young man from fully loving God.
22 At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.
This might be you. Sad and grieving knowing that I could never give up my prosperity and wealth for Jesus. In the midst of wealth, the man lost his identity and meaning – and only Jesus can give that to us. The feeling of I want to give it up but I can’t because it has gotten hold of me.
He had a choice that day to say, Lord, all I have is yours. Take my life. Everything I need is in you. It wasn’t about the money. It was about his values.
What do value the most? Jesus then faced his disciples and said,
23 Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!”24 The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! 25 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.”
Are we willing to let go of the things to pursue God? God is not saying be poor or be less wealthy but rather are you ready to surrender to my plans and my will.
I know it might not make sense to you the same way it seemed like the disciples could not comprehend what Jesus was saying. Humanly, it might not make sense, but I have personally seen thousands of men who chose to give it up and have received more in this life, and the life after because the material blessings did not eat them up instead it helped them fulfill the purposes of God for their lives.
26 The disciples were even more amazed, and said to each other, “Who then can be saved?”27 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.”