‘Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ Mark 10:17-31
I remember the first time I met Maya Angelou. I don’t remember the exact question I asked her but it was something along the lines of “What must I do?” However, what I clearly remember was her answer “read.” I have to say at the time I was a bit perplexed on one hand and disappointed on the other. “Read what?” Why hadn’t I asked her something else? Maybe she would have given me something I could use. Today of course I read all the time but thirty plus years ago I only read out of necessity. It’s no wonder I was perplexed. Consequently, for some time I dismissed the advice of someone I still admire today. The old statement about being careful of what you ask for is very important in today’s gospel message. You’re not always going to like the answer that you get, particularly when the answer requires you to do something you don’t really want to do, regardless of how simple or complex. So, you go about finding other solutions to your quest, never fully fulfilling your desire.
The man in the gospel reading called Jesus “Good Teacher.” So we can assume that he valued Jesus’ authority. However, when he was advised to sell everything he had, he was left perplexed and discerning his true desire for eternal life. Honestly for me, asking us today to sell everything we have seems drastic and extreme. This is one of several events where Jesus advises drastic actions, including cutting off body parts (Matt. 5:30) and leaving the dead to bury the dead (Matt. 8:20). But I really believe Christ makes the point that no obstacle tangible or intangible should come between our desires to be in relationship with God. In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence (Eph. 3:12). If we are bold enough to ask the question, we must be bold enough to accept the answer that challenges our commitment to God’s will. “Follow me.” Sometimes that means we have to let some things go completely. When we do, God’s graciousness rewards us a hundredfold in this life. Yet with the persecutions we will have to endure, the greater reward is eternal life, that being the assurance of God’s presence with us today and the life to come.
Hebrews 4:12-16 Indeed, the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing until it divides soul from spirit, joints from marrow; it is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.