A CG Bible study reflection on Mark 10:13-31
Mark connects two seemingly unrelated episodes to illustrate a simple yet challenging proposition: it is only by God’s grace – and not our efforts – that we might enter His kingdom. Jesus declares that we must receive the kingdom of God like a child (v15), with all of the associated characteristics of humility, trust, and complete dependence. The rich man who approaches Jesus asks the wrong question when he wonders: “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” (v17). He goes away disappointed because, as we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23), we cannot hope to earn salvation on the strength of our own endeavours. And yet, the wonderful promise is that God’s finished work is enough for us – we need only to receive it.
Is there anything, then, that is holding us back? The rich man’s reluctance to exchange his possessions for treasure in heaven (v21) is but one example of our more general struggle with worldliness. An over-attachment to material possessions can certainly disrupt with our relationship with God, but so too can a selfishness with time, or an obsession with academic achievement. Elsewhere in the Bible, Jesus reminds us of the transience of things of this world, and warns us of the fate that awaits those who store up things for themselves but are not rich towards God (v21).
Daunting as the prospect might sound of taking up our cross and following Jesus, we can draw comfort from two reminders from the passage. First, what is impossible with man is not so with God; all things are possible with God (v27). May we pray with childlike humility for God to convict our hearts so that we might fully accept the promise of his salvation. Second, the cost of following Jesus will pale in comparison with the joy and the honour that will attend us, both in this life and the next (v30).
As Jesus reminds us, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21).