The Holy Gospel: October 14, 2012 (Year B)

Read:  Mark 10:17-31

Meditation:  “Two Questions”

Today’s passage unfolds in relation to two questions: one asked by the man who came to Jesus, and one asked by Jesus’ disciples. 

I have never felt that I fully understand this passage, which in some ways is unusual, both with respect to Jesus’ conversation with the man and also in the conversation he then had with the disciples.

I think both conversations hinge on the phrase “eternal life.”  That’s what the man came asking about, and it’s what the disciples were concerned about when they asked, “Then who can be saved?”

Jesus’ answer lies in his call to follow him.  As the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6), Jesus is already on the path that leads to eternal life.  So, whether it was the man or the disciples, the means to eternal life is found in leaving the past behind and moving into God’s future as revealed in Christ.

The man needed to leave what seems to have been a reliance upon his self-righteousness.  So, Jesus opened a door into a place in his life where he did not want to relinquish control.  The disciples needed to be reassured that their willingness to leave things behind to follow Jesus was literally and figuratively, a step in the right direction.

In both cases, the desire for eternal life—the desire to be saved—was found in Jesus, not in either the man or the disciples.  In both, it was the journey of renunciation.  And to both, Jesus said that shifting from self-reliance to God-reliance is very hard—too hard to be done apart from the grace of God—but possible when God is making it happen.

Two questions about one concern—“eternal life”—questions that can only be answered by God as we abandon all our self-salvation efforts and follow Jesus.

About Steve Harper

Retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 42 books. Also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.
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