Ears to Hear Mark 10
This is one of those stories I have heard so many times that it is hard to read with fresh ears.
The question: What must I do to inherit eternal life? This ruler does not seem to understand that one of the purposes of the Law is to help us see how broken we are. Instead he thinks he has it all down.
And Jesus’ response: keep the law followed by sell everything you have, instead of put your faith in me. The way to be right with God is NOT to sell everything you have and give it to the poor. We know the answer is to repent and accept Jesus. Eternal life is a gift of God. It’s free.
The rich young ruler goes to Jesus for assurance that he is okay. Jesus sees right through to the guy’s heart and sees that money has a hold over him. (If this guy was secure then he would not be asking the question.) This man was more than likely technically generous since he had followed the law. He tithed at the Temple and gave to the poor. It is possible to be technically generous with our money and not radically generous with our heart. However, it is impossible to be generous with our heart and not generous with our money. Out of recognition that God is being generous with us and gives us what we do not deserve, we are expected to pay it forward.
So what is Jesus really saying? I think it is that we have to break the power of idols in our lives, the things that compete for first place in our lives, and one of the ways we do that is by letting go of anything, besides Jesus, that we lean on for power, relevance and security. And think about it. Jesus looks at this guy who is rich with earthly stuff, who can’t give up what he has. Jesus knows the struggle because He was rich. He had everything and he gave it all away. He laid aside his glory and became poor so we might be richer than we ever could on our own.