So to the gospel....
The young man recognizes that Jesus is the Good Teacher who can answer the most vital question: ‘What must I do to inherit eternal life?’
Firstly Jesus puts the young man’s focus back onto God… only God is good. Maybe he could have stopped the conversation right there – “you ask ‘what must I do?’ Remember how good God is, and stop trying to earn God’s love”.
But Jesus wants to help this young man…so he points out ‘You know the commandments’ – better than that, this young man has actually kept the commandments.
Then comes the bad news ‘You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.’
We might well understand why the young man, who is rich, goes away grieving. We might wonder, though, why Jesus is so harsh on this young man who, after all, has broken no commandments. Mark is keen that we realize why Jesus speaks like this : his gospel tells us:
“Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, ‘You lack one thing; go, sell what you own…’. “
Jesus wants to help this man. Why would someone who kept all the commandments worry about inheriting eternal life - surely he knows that he is right with God – he has kept all the laws! But he clearly is worried, as he wants to ask Jesus the question of what more he needs to dd. It seems he wants to add eternal life to the already large pile of his possessions and accomplishments.
Jesus wants him to find the happiness which he lacks, to understand that there is nothing that can separate him from God’s love… except everything he owns and his attitude to it.
Everything. Can Jesus really mean him to get rid of everything?
the young man’s reaction shows that Jesus has hit the nail on the head. His possessions or his pride in being rich, or his comfort, mean more to him than being right with God – and having asked Jesus what he should do he finds cannot do it.
How is the sharpness of the Word challenging us? What do we need to trim away? perhaps not just 'stuff' but attitudes to stuff, or to law, or to others?
Still a bit more to finish this challenge off.. hopefully with fingers intact!