Family Bible Study lesson for May 27: Establishing Life's Priority
May 11 2001 by Catherine Painter , Mark 10:17-31

Family Bible Study lesson for May 27: Establishing Life's Priority | Friday, May 11, 2001

Friday, May 11, 2001

Family Bible Study lesson for May 27: Establishing Life's Priority

By Catherine Painter Mark 10:17-31 "Do you realize retirement is not in the Bible?" Jack asked after three months of trying to pull it off. Retired, my cup was running over: Christian children and grandchildren, house of my dreams and the man I love finally all mine. What, then, was this gnawing emotion inside us both? What lacked we yet? Returning from church, I rushed through the house, shut the door and cried, "Lord, if You don't give us a ministry, I believe I will die!" I was trembling. I had never yelled at God before. That week He answered, renewing the call that would not be silenced (Eph. 2:10). Unspeakable joy returned.

A difficult demand (Mark 10:17-22) It takes all three synoptic gospels to form a composite picture of this man. Matthew says he's young (l9:22). Luke calls him a ruler (l8:18). All three say he's rich, thus the title: "Rich Young Ruler."

By the world's standards, he's a hot church prospect, for if there is anything the world loves it's money, youth and power. Eager, he runs to the right person, but Jesus is not impressed. He returns the salutation, "Good teacher," with a response as startling as throwing ice water into the man's face (v. l8). In those days, addressing someone as "good" was always flattery and Jesus resists.

The question, "What must I do to inherit eternal life" (v. l7b)? reveals an intention to earn his salvation. Jesus answers on the man's terms, reciting the last six commandments that deal with relationships. Lifting the fifth commandment from its order, Jesus places it last: "Honor your father and mother" (v. l9), suggesting the man has grown rich and powerful and, finding his parents an embarrassment, leaves them behind.

We laugh at his claim to have kept the commandments since boyhood (v. 20). Get real!

Now Jesus calls him to something original, costly, generous and loving: "Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me" (v. 21).

The man's face falls (v. 22). Wanting eternal life, he finds the cost too high, and Jesus will not reduce the price. Good works keep him from prison. They can't grant him entrance into God's kingdom.

We wonder why this drastic demand of him and not of others until we remember no physician prescribes the same remedy for every patient. Exposing his personal relationship with us, he diagnoses each differently to prescribe the appropriate cure.

A divine accomplishment (Mark 10:23-27) In Jesus' day, riches indicated God's favor. The disciples were amazed, then, at Jesus' explanation that it's not impossible, but hard, for the rich to enter the kingdom of God. When possessions are means to comfort and convenience, they become chains. When used as a means to help others, they become crowns.

Zacchaeus was one of Jericho's wealthiest men, but he found his way into heaven (Luke 19:9). Joseph of Arimathaea was rich (Matt. 27:57; Luke 23:50-51). So was Nicodemus (John 7:50; 19:39). Jesus made no similar demand on them.

Jesus does not say riches are sinful - only dangerous. They encourage false independence and handling one's own life. With earthly stakes high, we can become shackled to earth. Jesus commands us to lay our treasure in heaven (see Matt. 6:21).

John D. Rockefeller was asked how much it takes to make one happy. He answered, "Just a little bit more." The Christian in God's will knows the only portion of wealth we take with us is what we give away.

"What I had, I lost; what I gave, I have."

A disproportionate reward (Mark 10: 28-31) Peter now asks the throbbing question: "What's in it for us who gave up all to follow You" (cf.v. 28)? Jesus answers, "Everything! Everything in this present world and the next" (cf.v. 30). How true are our Lord's words. The land doesn't belong to him whose name is on the deed, but to all who can appreciate the landscape.

We hear His voice and own the wind; we feel His tears and own the rain. The sun and stars are ours if we behold His glory - all this and heaven, too! He calls us to claim things present, things to come - even death, which is not master of the house, but the porter, who opens the door to heaven.

One day "we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as he is" (I John 3:2b). That is enough!

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5/11/2001 12:00:00 AM by Catherine Painter , Mark 10:17-31 | with 0 comments
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