Urgent Desire for More

Scripture Focus: Mark 10.17
17 As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

Reflection: Urgent Desire for More
By John Tillman

Everything about how the rich man approached Jesus communicated urgency.

The rich man rushed up to Jesus and knelt down in a show of humility and concern. The way he approached was similar to the way Jairus approached when his daughter was dying. It was the way lepers knelt, desperate for healing. It is similar to the way a father approached Jesus when his demon-possessed child could not be healed by the disciples or the way the Syrophoenician woman begged for her child’s life to be delivered from demonic oppression. It was the way the demoniac of Gerasenes approached Jesus. 

Most everyone who approached Jesus in this way had someone’s life on the line but the rich man was concerned with something else. He asked to know how to “inherit eternal life.”

The word translated “inherit” is fairly common in scripture. It consistently refers to receiving something of value that one has not earned. There are many promises of God that we can inherit, but none we deserve or earn. 

We don’t know much else about the rich man but it seems safe to assume that he was familiar with earning and with inheriting. He was immersed in a system of earning and a system of spiritual achievement. He saw eternal life as the cherry on top of the delightful treat his life already was in contrast to those around him. 

Jesus’ answer dashed his anticipation. Urgency melted to apathy. The wealthy young man wasn’t ready to give up earning and he didn’t yet trust what he would stand to inherit. We are so similar to him. Especially in the West, we have more in common with the rich young man than we do with Christ’s disciples who “gave up everything” to follow him. 

Do we trust what we will inherit by giving up our worldly possessions to benefit others?
Are we willing to give up earning our righteousness and counting our trophies of achievement?

Scripture is silent about it but I like to imagine that the rich man eventually came back. After all, Jesus tells the disciples regarding this, “…all things are possible with God.” (Mark 10.27) The rich young ruler is not beyond saving and neither are we.

May we have an urgency about eternity and a dispassionate hold on the temporal. 
May we have an urgent desire for more than we can earn.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Refrain for the Morning Lessons
Great are the deeds of the Lord! they are studied by all who delight in them. — Psalm 111.2

– Divine Hours prayers from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle

Today’s Readings
Jeremiah 24 (Listen – 1:54)
Mark10 (Listen – 6:42)

Read more about The Miracle of Faith
I long to be filled with faith, but I’m often filled with…pride, like the rich young ruler who claimed to have kept all the commandments.

#ReadersChoice is time for you to share favorite Park Forum posts from the year.
What post lifted your spirit?

The Catch All Commandment :: Throwback Thursday

Mark 10.4-9
“Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce and send her away.”
“It was because your hearts were hard that Moses wrote you this law,” Jesus replied. “But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female. For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

From John:
Tomorrow we will unpack a bit more about this passage and Christ’s many mentions of marriage. Today an interesting discussion from Martin Luther, regarding the tenth commandment against covetousness and how it relates to divorce. For Luther the tenth commandment is something of a catch-all—the commandment that even the most righteous-seeming people cannot pretend not to have broken. The reformer goes on to describe the effects of covetousness on the culture and legal system, which applies greatly to us today.

Reflection: The Catch All Commandment :: Throwback Thursday
By Martin Luther

[Divorce] was not considered a sin nor disgrace with them; as little as now with hired help, when a proprietor dismisses his man-servant or maid-servant, or takes another’s servants from him in any way. Therefore, they thus interpreted these commandments: that no one think or purpose to obtain what belongs to another (such as his wife, servants, house and estate, land meadows, cattle) even with a show of right or by a subterfuge, yet with injury to his neighbor. 

For above, in the Seventh Commandment, the vice is forbidden where one wrests to himself the possessions of others, or withholds them from his neighbor, which he cannot do by right. But here it is also forbidden to alienate anything from your neighbor, even though you could do so with honor in the eyes of the world, so that no one could accuse or blame you as though you had obtained it wrongfully. 

By nature no one desires to see another have as much as himself. Each one acquires as much as he can; the other may fare as best he can. And yet we pretend to be godly, know how to adorn ourselves most finely, and conceal our rascality. We resort to and invent adroit devices and deceitful artifices (such as now are daily most ingeniously contrived) as though they were derived from the law codes. 

Yes, we even dare impertinently to refer to it, and boast of it, and will not have it called rascality, but shrewdness and caution. In this lawyers and jurists assist, who twist and stretch the law to suit it to their cause. We stress words and use them for a subterfuge, irrespective of equity or a neighbor’s necessity. 

This last commandment therefore is given not for rogues in the eyes of the world, but just for the most pious. It is for those who wish to be praised and be called honest and upright people, since they have not offended against the former commandments, as especially the Jews claimed to be, and even now many great noblemen, gentlemen, and princes. 

*From Martin Luther’s Catechism on the Ten Commandments. Edited for length and language updated.

From John:
May we examine our hearts to uncover the places we twist God’s words, defining them in ways that make us appear righteous in our own actions, rather than as we are: wretched, covetous sinners redeemed by the mercy of Christ.

Prayer: The Refrain for the Morning Lessons
Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. — Matthew 5.6

– Prayer from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Autumn and Wintertime by Phyllis Tickle.

Prayers from The Divine Hours available online and in print.

Today’s Readings
Genesis 40 (Listen – 2:59) 
Mark 10 (Listen – 6:42)

Read more about Killing With our Hearts
All Christians are commitment-phobic about Christ’s teachings in the Sermon on the Mount.

Read more about The Radical Procedure of the Gospel
It’s lovely to think of God giving us a new heart and putting a new Spirit within us. But it is terrifying to admit to the diagnoses that would lead to such a radical procedure