The rich and the kingdom of God

This is written by Ruth Slatter. She spends a lot of time on trains. It turns out that the countryside between London and Hull is really beautiful.

Mark 10:17-31

The rich and the kingdom of God
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. 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, honour your father and mother."'

20 'Teacher,' he declared, 'all these I have kept since I was a boy.'

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.'

22 At this the man's face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.

23 Jesus looked round 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.'

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.'

28 Then Peter spoke up, 'We have left everything to follow you!'

29 '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 30 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. 31 But many who are first will be last, and the last first.'

Reflection

This rich young man seems to have had it all. One of those kind, caring people with a fun, well-paid job, lovely partner, great holidays; the lot. But he also knew that there was more and went to talk to Jesus because he wanted to know how he could get eternal life.

Interestingly, it turns out that Jesus's disciples wanted the same thing. They were nothing like the rich young man and had left everything to follow Jesus. However, Jesus gave them the same advice: no matter how many rules you follow you can never save yourself! If you want eternal life you have to surrender yourself to God.

So what does it mean to surrender ourselves to God? Jesus told the rich young man to sell everything he had and redistribute it amongst the poor. If he'd done this the rich young man wouldn't have been able to rely on his worldly wealth and would no longer have had an elevated social status. Alternatively, Jesus praised the disciples' willingness to travel away from their friends and families to help with his ministry.

This suggests that surrendering ourselves to God looks different for everyone. Ultimately we have to listen to what God is asking us to do. Are there things he wants us to give up because we value them more than our relationship with him? Is there a particular cause that he'd like us to give to? Is there somebody he'd like us to befriend? We may well have other plans for our money and time, but Jesus promises that surrendering to God's plan will be worth it.

Spend some time opening yourself to Jesus. Ask him to speak to you and reveal things in your life that have become bigger than your love for God.

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