Mark 10:17-31 – Jesus and the Rich Young Man

Christian MölkMark Leave a Comment

Mark 10:17

  1. The man is eager and respectful and comes to Jesus to find out what he must do to inherit eternal life. In the same way, we should come to Jesus to learn about the kingdom of God.
  2. However, the man shows that he believes that eternal life is something that can be earned by “doing” something, which is a clear contrast to what Jesus said about receiving the kingdom of God in Mark 10:15.
    1. If you think that you can have eternal life by your own performance and actions, you miss the opportunity to let Jesus be your personal saviour.
    1. In order to be saved and receive eternal life, there are no good deeds one can “do” to earn eternal life, but one must receive salvation as a free gift from God. The moment you pay something for a free gift, it is no longer a free gift.
    1. Under no circumstances should one do good deeds in order to be saved, but one can do good deeds because one loves one’s fellow human beings.

Mark 10:18

  1. Jesus does not deny his own divinity here, but affirms it. Since only God is wholly good, and this man calls Jesus good, Jesus challenges the man to think about what his confession really means. Jesus does not deny that he is indeed wholly good but instead asks the man if this is what he means when he calls Jesus good. Since Jesus is sinless (John 8:46) and thoroughly good, this is indirect evidence that Jesus is God.
    1. However, the man later removes the word “good” when addressing Jesus.
  2. Although it is not explicitly stated that Jesus is God in Mark’s gospel, Mark shows this indirectly when he describes Jesus doing things that only God can do (Mark 2:7, Mark 4:41, Mark 10:18).

Mark 10:19

  1. Jesus quotes the commandments about how to treat one’s fellow man (Exodus 20:12-16).

Mark 10:20

  1. The traditional view of the Law was that one should not break the commandments. However, Jesus turns the tables in his Sermon on the Mount and emphasizes that the very purpose of the Law is not to focus on trying to avoid breaking the commandments but instead to actively do good to one’s fellow man (Matt 5-7).
  2. No man can succeed in keeping the whole Law because he breaks the Law even when he treats his fellow man badly in his heart.

Mark 10:21

  1. True, the man had, at least according to himself, kept all the commandments that Jesus listed, but he was unable to keep the most important one (Matthew 22:36-38).
  2. The man was not willing to sell everything he owned to obtain eternal life, which shows that he neither loved God with all his heart nor his fellow human beings (the poor) as himself, thus violating the first of the commandments (Exodus 20:3) and the purpose of the whole Law (Matthew 22:36-40).
  3. The man mistakenly believed that he could “do” something to inherit eternal life. Since it is not possible to “do” something or “perform” something to get eternal life, Jesus shows this man how impossible it is to get eternal life by “doing” something. If the man had sold everything he owned, he would have done everything he could “do” to inherit eternal life, hopefully realizing that all that is really required is that he freely accept the grace that Jesus offers.

Mark 10:23

  1. Being rich does not necessarily mean being blessed by God, but Jesus shows that it is difficult for the rich to enter the kingdom of God.
    1. Paul writes that those who strive to be rich fall prey to desires that lead to destruction (1 Timothy 6:9-10).
  2. The man who is rich wanted to earn his eternal life, but lost it. Instead, Jesus points out that only those who are like children can enter the kingdom of God because they do not believe they deserve God’s kingdom but willingly receive it for free.
    1. The man was rich and therefore did not need God. Children have nothing and are therefore dependent on their parents.

Mark 10:27

  1. It is impossible for people to save themselves by doing good deeds. We all depend on God himself to save us. This salvation can only be received with open arms without any quid pro quo through faith in Jesus.

Mark 10:28

  1. Although the rich man was unable to leave everything to follow Jesus, Peter wants to emphasize that the disciples have indeed done so and wonders what reward they would receive for doing so.
  2. The disciples often had a false understanding of who Jesus was and what it meant to follow him. However, this was not a disaster as long as they at least followed Jesus because he could then teach them more gradually and progressively.
    1. In the same way, we should be humble today that we do not always have a fully accurate understanding of who Jesus is and what it means to follow him, but that the most important thing is that we stay with him and try to follow him to the best of our ability. 

Mark 10:29

  1. Even if you lose your family community when you choose to follow Jesus, the church will be the new community (Mark 3:31-35).
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