Putting Your Hope on the Thing That Will Never Change

As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good – except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud, honor your father and mother.’” “Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.” Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth. Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!” The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” The disciples were even more amazed, and said to each other, “Who then can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.” – Mark 10:17-27

“Give your wealth to the poor!” says Jesus. It’s not that it’s wrong to be wealthy; it isn’t. In today’s reading Jesus is helping a particular young man see something about himself he’d rather not see. Wealthy, poor, or anywhere in between, it’s easy to pin our hopes and dreams on our money. But money can’t save us, not in this world or in the next. Out of love, Jesus is warning us about the sin of greed.

We don’t know if that rich young man ever came to faith in Jesus. The last we hear of him is that he went away sad. It’s possible that he repented of his greed later and was brought to trust in Jesus the Savior as the only way to heaven. We just don’t know.

What we do know is that we don’t have to go away from these words sad. The reason Jesus warns us about greed is so that he can fix our eyes on the treasures of heaven.

The world is full of advertisements that scream for our attention. Full color ads and carefully worded slogans are designed to grab our attention, then our hearts, then our wallets. But here, tucked away in the tenth chapter of the book of Mark, God offers us a treasure worth more than all the wealth in the world, a treasure we could never earn, not in a million years. The same Jesus who lovingly warns us about greed goes eventually to his cross and pays the full debt for all of the sins of the world. Now, forgiven in Jesus and trusting in his salvation, we have God’s love and blessing in this life and the next. By his death and resurrection, Jesus has done something as impossible as squeezing a camel through the eye of a needle. He saved us.

Prayer: Dear Jesus, thank you for paying my debt of sin in full. Help me fight against the sin of greed in my heart, and fill me with the peace and contentment that come from your forgiveness. Amen.

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