Jesus encounters an energetic kingdom prospect (Mark 10:17). Mark notes that Jesus “loved him”(Mark 10:21) and tells him his need is to sell all he has, give it to the poor, and follow Jesus. “He went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions”(Mark 10:22). Jesus takes it as an opportunity to publicly lament the difficulty riches cause in seeking the kingdom. “How difficult,” he declares (Mark 10:23). And in case we missed it, he repeats himself, “how difficult”(Mark 10:24)! In case we missed that, “it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God”(Mark 10:25).
It is a vivid image that is purposefully absurd. We would probably overlook it otherwise. First, we must disabuse ourselves of the idea that Jesus is not speaking to us, but strictly to the CEOs of Fortune 500 companies. Even the poorest American is extraordinarily wealthy. Jesus’ perspective is that wealth introduces extreme difficulty. It competes with God. We cannot serve God and money. We must lay up treasures in heaven, not earth. Here a good man walks away from God’s Son because of it.
Money is necessary, but Jesus warns about the grip it tends to hold over those who hold it. Are we suspicious of money and its effect on us? Do we have strategies to prevent our loving, serving, and wasting it? What are we doing for Jesus with our money?
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Encouraging Christians to take discipleship seriously.