“21 And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 22 Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.”
–Mark 10:17-22 (ESV)”
It’s not easy to be stuck between two masters. It’s not an easy thing to stare the truth in the face and reject it. I think you have to try—really TRY—if you’re going to succeed. You know, that’s why I continue to think it takes at least as much faith (probably more) to be an atheist as it does to be a Christian. That self-reliance thing again…
Am I saying that this young man was, as he went away sorrowful, an unbeliever? I don’t know. Part of the reason that I am stuck on this passage is that it is just so stark. Mark gives us a bare-bones description of a wealthy man’s encounter with Christ and follows it up in (v.23) with “How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!”
The disciples were amazed by this statement so Jesus tells them again and uses the illustration of a camel going through the eye of a needle—fantastic enough, I suppose, to imagine a cartoonish version of this. A Wiley E. Coyote sort of a set up where the camel has enough momentum to pop him through a needles eye, disheveled but in one piece. Probably the best comment I read was that it was a ‘current proverb for the impossible’ referencing other middle eastern sources as well. (Holman Bible Dictionary)
So in v.26 when it says ‘They were exceedingly astonished’ it was because they immediately got it. And it completely blew apart their Jewish idea that the wealthy were really the blessed ones in their society. That somehow being rich was tied to their own personal holiness. ‘Man they must be really good’ went the thought.
Can’t say were much different, drooling and fawning over our celebrities the way we do. Rather than tell them the hard truth we become the person in James 2:1-13 who is merciless. Mostly because we see the bling and not the sinner. All that shiny stuff gets in our eyes and keeps us from sharing our true treasure.
“But a man cannot be thoroughly humbled till he realizes that his salvation is utterly beyond his own powers, counsels, efforts, will and works, and depends absolutely on the will, counsel, pleasure and work of Another—God alone. As long as he is persuaded that he can make even the smallest contribution to his salvation, he remains self-confident and does not utterly despair of himself, and so is not humbled before God; but plans out for himself (or at least hopes and longs for) a position, an occasion, a work, which shall bring him final salvation.”
—Martin Luther, Bondage of the Will