Monday, October 5, 2009

Mark 10:17-31 - The Gospel Lectionary Passage for October 11, 2009

This is my own translation of the lectionary gospel lesson for Sunday. Please make any comments concerning the passage you want. Together, let's discuss the Word of God:


17And when he was going out on his journey, a person ran up to him and kneeled and asked him, "Good teacher, what should I do in order that I might inherit life eternal?" 18But Jesus said to him, "Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. 19You know the commandments: don’t murder, don’t commit adultery, don’t steal, don’t give false evidence, don’t defraud, honor you father and mother." 20And he said to him, "Teacher, all these things I have observed from my youth." 21And when Jesus looked at him, he loved him and said to him, "One thing you lack. Go, and all that you have, sell and give to those who are poor and you will have treasures in heaven. And come, follow me." 22And he became sad because of the word, and he went grieving, for he had many possessions.

23And after Jesus looked around, he said to his disciples, "How difficult it will it be for those who have wealth to enter into the Kingdom of God." 24And the disciples were amazed by his words. And again Jesus answered and said to them, "Children, how difficult it is to enter into the Kingdom of God. 25It is easier for a camel to go through a eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter into the Kingdom of God." 26But they were greatly astounded and said among themselves, "And who is able to be saved?" 27Jesus looked at them and said, "For people it’s impossible, but not for God. For all things are possible for God." 28Peter started to say to him, "See, we left everything and have followed you." 29Jesus said, "Amen I say to you, there is no one who has left houses or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for my sake and the sake of the good news, 30if no one receive hundredfold now in this age houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and fields with persecution, and in the age to come, life eternal. 31But many who are first will be last and the last first."


  1. The grammar in verses 29 & 30 is very awkward. Matthew and Luke clean it up. In Mark, it seems to be structured as a conditional sentence. That might shape the reading of the text.

  2. Lectionary Scripture NotesOctober 6, 2009 at 9:15 AM

    Socially, politically, economically, and religiously during the lifetime of the Jesus of history the Jews in Galilee and in Judea were a heavily oppressed people within their own land. They had none of the autonomy that had been enjoyed by the wealthy people of the Northern Kingdom who had been condemned by Amos. The only Jews in Galilee and Judea during the time of Jesus who were relatively prosperous were those few who cooperated fully with the Roman occupational forces as priests managing the Temple, as tax collectors, and as business contractors. Even these lived in a precarious position, subject to the wishes and whims of the Romans and endangered by the actions of Jewish revolutionaries, the Zealot guerrilla forces, primarily teenage boys whose daring attacks on isolated Roman guards were always met by severe Roman reprisals. Under the conditions in which the Jews in Galilee and Judea lived during the time of Jesus, it is apparent from Mark 10:21 and similar texts that the Jesus of history advocated direct assistance to poor and destitute Jews by the few Jews such as the man depicted in this Mark 10:17-22 account who through full cooperation with the Roman occupational forces managed temporarily to have significant possessions.

    Formgeschichte (form study) analysis of the Mark 10:17-22 account indicates that, as in the somewhat similar account in Mark 12:28-34, it is likely that much of the Jesus of history level is still discernible in this Mark 10:17-22 account, even though there had been additions and probably many deletions during the development of the account throughout the reminiscences of followers of Jesus level and the pre-Markan level to the Markan level of development. A careful reconstruction of a scenario during the Jesus of history level provides something similar to the following dialogue.

    Jesus looked at him with compassion and said, "One thing is lacking with you. Go! Sell what you have accumulated and give to the oppressed poor people in our land. Then you will have treasures in heaven!"

    The man was dismayed about this reply and went away looking very sad and depressed, for he was a man who had accumulated many possessions.

    Jesus looked at those who were with him and said, "How difficult it is for people who have accumulated wealth by cooperating fully with the oppressive Romans to let God and only God rule in their lives. I think that it must be easier for a camel loaded down with a heavy burden to go through the eye of a needle than for a man such as that, who has accumulated wealth by cooperating fully with the oppressive Romans and making it easier for the Romans to oppress the rest of us, to let only the Lord God and not the Romans rule that person's life."

    Those around Jesus then said, "Who then will be saved?"

    Jesus said to them, "People with their selfish attachments and limitations are not able to be saved, but God has no such limitations. All things are possible for God!"

    The social, political, economic, and religious situations in which we live are different from those of the time of either Amos or Jesus, but probably in most instances closer to the situation at the time of Amos than at the time of Jesus. Much of what Amos apparently condemned could rather easily be condemned among us.

    Each of us should analyze the social, political, economic, and religious situation in which we live and in which we are called to proclaim the message from God next Sunday. The prescriptions for life derived from these two texts remain valid today and will remain valid for all of us in this life. The implications of this for us also remain valid. The message that we will proclaim next Sunday will hardly be living, dynamic "Word of God" unless we apply it boldly and courageously to the particular social, political, economic, and religious situation in which we live and work. That is our prophetic call.

  3. Ah, yes! Its Stewardship time again. I had almost forgotten my annual
    campaign during October and early November when I was preaching
    regularly. And yes, there was the annual sermon on the A-mount.

    I shall resist the temptation to attack the rich and those who
    oppress the poor this one time.

    Nor do I want to remind us that we are all here rich compared to the
    real poor in many countries in the world.

    But this time I wish to look at this story from the standpoint of A

    As I read the story of this rich, young man again I thought of the
    early life of St. Francis of Assisi. His father had done well in
    business. Francis was like so many other upper middle class kids we
    have known, perhaps a bit spoiled. He certainly had all the comforts
    he could want. He wanted more and went off to fight battles. Perhaps
    he also wanted fame with wealth. He was wounded and came home.
    Francis was a party animal. He not only enjoyed attending parties. He
    liked to plan and organize them. He had the money to do that.

    Francis had a vision that called him to serve God, not other men who
    were waging war. He was called to serve the poor. He tried giving to
    the poor but found that paternalistic. Eventually he would give up
    his life as a son of a wealthy merchant. He would give back to his
    father money from sales which he intended to rebuild a church. He
    would then also give back all his clothing too, and he would set out
    on a life journey of poverty and service to the Lord. ( I encourage
    those preaching this text to re-read the story of St. Francis. There
    is much illustrative material here.)

    Unlike the rich, young man in Mark 10, Francis answered the call. But
    how many fail to answer? How many go away sorrowful because God asks
    them to give up something in their life of great(est) importance to
    them? It may be money. It may be a prior call, It may be family, etc.
    What great idol stands between you and the call of God?

  4. Ed,

    Where is the Good News in Mark 10:17-31? This might be called a very depressing Gospel passage.

    So how are we going to handle this passage?

    A rich man comes to Jesus and ask him what he must do to inherit eternal life? Jesus answers back, why do you call me good?

    Wow, talk about brushing this guy off! Then Jesus says, “No one is good except God.” Perhaps not the best way to start off on this conversation.

    Then Jesus tells him to obey all the commandments, which this man replies that he has never broken any of the commandments. (Who among us can say that?)

    Now if this man is that good, and has never broken any of the commandments what in the world could Jesus ever say to this man? And all of a sudden Jesus tells the man to sell all he has and give all his money to the needy.

    And then come and follow me.

    With that command telling this man he must redistribute his entire wealth, the man just turned slowly away from Jesus and got back into his 2009 Hummer!

    Saying something under his breath, “I thought Jesus was a caring, loving, compassionate person.” (Not)

    Jesus is not going to allow this man to get by with that, so he says something out loud for everyone to hear. “You cannot save the rich people. Their money gets in the way”

    Then Jesus says something that surprises everyone, “It is easier for a Camel to walk through an eye of a needle then a rich to enter into God’s Kingdom.”

    Then the disciples ask a brilliant question, “Who then can be saved?”

    Jesus states, With God all things a possible, even the impossible task of a Camel walking through a eye of a needle salvation of rich people! I think Jesus is saying, that salvation is only possible

    Because of the unrelenting love of God, and the amazing love of a loving God to get what God in the end really and truly wants and desires.

  5. It all comes down to the "but" in verse 27.