by Joanna Harader
Scripture: Mark 10:17-31
As Jesus was setting out on a journey, a man ran up and knelt before him, and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; You shall not defraud; Honor your father and mother.’” He said to him, “Teacher, I have kept all these since my youth.” Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, “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.” When he heard this, he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions.
Then Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” And the disciples were perplexed at these words. But Jesus said to them 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.” They were greatly astounded and said to one another, “Then who can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “For mortals it is impossible, but not for God; for God all things are possible.”
Peter began to say to him, “Look, we have left everything and followed you.” Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields, for my sake and for the sake of the good news, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this age—houses, brothers and sisters, mothers and children, and fields with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.”
In many stories from the Gospels, people are happy after talking with Jesus. The children, who Jesus has just blessed, leave happy. The blind and lame and sick people that Jesus heals leave happy. But this rich young ruler goes away grieving. He is sad.
He asks Jesus what he must do to get eternal life. Jesus tells him he has to sell all of his possessions and give the money to the poor. And the young man goes away sad.
We tend to assume he is sad because he is not willing to sell his possessions–so he will not get eternal life. And that may be the case. It would be sad for him to know that he would not be able to do what Jesus asks.
It is also possible that he is sad because he has decided he will sell his possessions. If you knew you were going to sell all of your toys and your books and your clothes and even your bed, how would you feel?
We do not know what decision this young man made. Either choice would make him sad, because either way he is losing something he wants to hold onto. What he has learned from Jesus is that he cannot cling tightly to his earthly possessions and also faithfully follow Jesus. He has to make a choice. And it is a difficult choice.
If we want to follow Jesus, we will have to make difficult choices too. While I do not believe that we all should sell everything we have, it is clear from scripture that we should love Jesus more than we love our stuff. That we should love our neighbors more than we love our stuff. And while giving up some stuff might make us sad in the moment, we will find that following the way of Jesus ultimately brings us joy.
Questions to Spark Discussion
– What things do you have that help you live a healthy and happy life?
– What things do you have that you really do not need?
– How would you feel if someone asked you to get rid of some of your stuff?
– Who in your community does not have all that they need?
– What stories have you heard about people in other parts of the world who do not have all that they need?
– Why do you think Jesus tells the young man to sell all of his stuff and give the money to the poor?
We thank you for the things we have that help us live healthy and happy lives:
name things you are thankful for.
We pray for those in our community and around the world
who do not have all that they need:
name individuals and groups of people who are in need.
Help us to love you more than we love our stuff.
Help us to love other people more than we love our stuff.
Free our hearts to follow you with joy. Amen.
Have each person in the family choose one item (or more) to give away. And together choose one family item (or more) to give away. You may be able to give the items directly to someone who needs them, or you can donate them to a thrift shop.
Before you give the items away, thank God that you have been able to have the items for a time, and pray for the people who will use the items after you.