Tag Archives: mark 10

Inheriting the good life

Sergey Brin, a rich young man who co-founded Google

Sergey Brin, a rich young man who co-founded Google

Mark 10:17-31
For Sunday, October 11, 2015
Year B, Proper 23

A  rich young man, who by virtue of being rich at a young age may well have been the 1st century equivalent of a Silicon Valley entrepreneur, comes to Jesus and asks, “Good Mentor, what must I do to inherit the good life?”  The interaction which follows gives us three profound insights into the question of inheriting the good life.

Impossible to self-qualify …

The first insight into inheriting the good life is that it’s impossible to self-qualify.  Jesus’ initial response to the rich young man’s question is to respond with a question.  “Why do you call me good?  Only God is good.”  Sergey isn’t expecting this.  It unsettles him.  This is good because now his soul is open to real influence.  When we come prayerfully to the Scriptures, and put their authority over us versus under us, this is what happens.

Now that Jesus has the man’s full attention, he says, “Look, you know the answer to your own question.  You need to keep the commandments.”   The man responds, “Yes, of course, and I’ve kept all of them since my youth.”  And now comes a piercing blow: “You lack one thing.  Go, sell everything you have, and give your money to the poor.”  The man’s face falls, and he goes away crushed, for his wealth is the very foundation of his present identity.

Now, as for us, is the point that we too should sell everything we own?  No, not unless God directly asks us to.  The point is that it’s impossible to self-qualify for inheriting the good life.  None of us are so good at keeping the commandments that we’re up to God’s perfect standard of righteousness.  There will always be something each of us lacks.

… but qualification granted

The second insight into inheriting the good life is that while it’s impossible to self-qualify for it, it is possible to be granted qualification.  Jesus’ disciples were stunned and dismayed at the interaction they had just witnessed.  “So then who can be saved?”  Jesus says this:  “For mortals it’s impossible, but not for God.”  If we want to inherit the good life, we are going to need God to qualify us for it.  He offers this qualification to each of us if we will only believe that Jesus died on the cross to forgive our sins.

The guaranteed bonus

The third and final insight is this: there is a guaranteed 100-fold bonus involved for those who who choose to follow Christ.  I can tell you from personal experience that this is true.  When Heather and I went to Siberia as missionaries 22 years ago we left everything: our home, our extended families, and our jobs.  We went over there with 10 big black duffle bags.  (That was 9 bags too many as we were later to learn).  Yet what a return we received on our investment.  We literally received 100-fold in terms of God providing housing, Russian friends and family, and the profoundly significant work of restoring people be to hope and flourishing life.

So, do we want to inherit the good life?   We can’t qualify ourselves, but God can qualify us, and when he does, it comes with a 100-fold blessing for the sake of His name.  This is the business our God does best.

Your thoughts?

  • What in this did you find particularly encouraging?  Challenging?
  • Where in your own life have you seen God deliver on his 100-fold bonus in response to a decision to follow him?

What marriage is supposed to be

Mark 10:2-16
For Sunday, October 4, 2015
Year B, Proper 22

Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” (Mark 10:2).

When is divorce okay?  That was the question on everyone’s mind then as it still is today.  Jesus’ response is that it’s the wrong question.  The question we should be asking is “What is marriage supposed to be?”  In this passage Jesus gives us three answers to this question.

Jesus’ first answer is that marriage is supposed to be a reflection of the image of God (v. 6).  “But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female’ (v. 6)“.  God designed us so that when a man and woman come together physically, relationally, and spiritually, they reflect the image of God in a way that an individual person can’t.  Just as God manifests himself as Father, Son, and Spirit, so does the image of God manifest itself as male and female together.

Jesus’ second answer is that marriage is supposed to be an experience of profound intimacy (vv. 7-8).   “‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh.”   My wife Heather and I have been married for 27 years now.  Our relationship is far from perfect and we work hard at it, but I truly do love her more every day.  The joy of knowing and being known is something God wants for each of us.

Jesus third answer is that marriage is supposed to be a permanent bond (v. 9). Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate” (vv. 7-9).  Yes, there is an exception for sexual immorality (albeit not mentioned in this passage) but this is not to be the rule.

What our culture says marriage is supposed to be is of course quite different.  From the culture’s perspective marriage is merely two (and soon maybe more?) loving people having the ability to share property and medical benefits for as long as is mutually agreeable.

As Christians our calling is to show our culture that marriage is meant to be much more than that.  The best lever we have is nothing less than our own marriages.  Let’s therefore make our own marriages a priority, so that we can enjoy the flourishing that good marriages bring while at the same time being a powerful witness to the world regarding what marriage is supposed to be.