11. The Trap

Mark 10: 17-27

Jesus did not mean that it is a sin to be rich.  It is not that all individual rich people are bad, nor are all individual poor people good.  Jesus did not make such blanket assertions.  Nor, on the other hand, was he saying, “Just be careful, don’t fall into greed, be generous from time to time.”  No.  Jesus was saying that there is something radically wrong with all of us — but money has a particular power to blind us to it.  In fact, it has so much power to deceive us of our true spiritual state that we need a gracious, miraculous intervention from God to see it.  

This young man needed counselling, though on the outside he looked completely pulled together.  He was rich, he was young.  But he didn’t have it all together.  If he had, he would never have come to Jesus and asked, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?”

Jesus’s perceptive statement “One thing you lack” allows us to capture the gist of the young man’s struggle.  The man was saying, “I have done everything right:  I have been successful economically, successful socially, successful morally, successful religiously.  I have heard you are a good rabbi, and I am wondering if there is something I have missed, something I am overlooking.  I sense that something is lacking.”

Of course, he was missing something.  Anyone who counts on what they are doing to get eternal life will find that, in spite of everything they have accomplished, there is an emptiness, an insecurity, a doubt.  Something is bound to be missing.

Jesus says: “If you want to follow me and to have eternal life, of course, you shouldn’t commit adultery; you shouldn’t do bad things.  But if you just repent of doing bad things, all it will do is make you a religious person.  If you want eternal life, if you want intimacy with God, if you want to get over that nagging sense that there is still something missing, then you have to change how you relate to your gifts and your successes.  You have put your faith and trust in your wealth and accomplishments.  But the effort is alienating you from God. Right now God is your boss, but God is not your Saviour.”

It is one thing to have God as a boss, an example, a mentor; but if you want God to be your Saviour, you have to replace what you have already looking to as a saviour.  Money has always been one of the most common saviours.

Note from King’s Cross: Understanding the Life and Death of Jesus

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