Hello and welcome to a new week of our Foundations Daily Podcast. My name is Liam and I’m part of the staff team here at STC.
This week, we’re back in Mark’s Gospel and following on from Mick, our team leader here, and his reflections from John’s Gospel looking at the resurrection – we are going to be asking the question this week – What kind of life…? What kind of life does Jesus call us to as disciples, as people who want to learn from him?
Today, we see that to follow Jesus is to surrender to him.
In today’s passage, which you can hear read in full at the end, we read about a rich young man who asks Jesus what he must do to inherit eternal life. From their ensuing conversation, it appears as if this man was someone who seemed to be living a good and honourable life, who appeared to have it all together, yet ended up leaving despondent, disheartened realising that he couldn’t ultimately inherit what God so longed to give him. Why? Let’s read from verse 23 onwards:
Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!”
The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”
Clearly this passage speaks about money. As we read the Gospel accounts, we can see that Jesus really talks a lot about money. He obviously knew how much of a hold money, the need for it, the pursuit of it, the reliance on it – can have on our lives.
But, as we dig a little deeper, we see that the hyperbole Jesus uses here stresses the point – the rich man could never really know God, could never fully receive all that God had for him…because he wasn’t able to truly surrender to God. To let go of the one thing he seemingly valued more than anything else: money. He wasn’t able to let go of all his great wealth – all that he had relied upon to get him to where he had got today. That had bought him security, status and upon which he had built his reputation.
When it came down to it, the rich young man didn’t trust Jesus enough to put aside his reliance on wealth and truly embrace the new life God was calling him to….a life of dependence, a life of surrender, of letting go.
And like the rich young man we recognise there is a battle on in our lives. A battle between our old life, a life of trusting in our own abilities, holding on to the notion that we can sort it all out, do it in our own strength… and embracing the new life in Christ, surrendering to our need for God.
The disciples ask Jesus a valid question, ‘Who then can be saved?’ It is the human condition to want to be in control of one’s life. How do we ever really let go of that? Jesus replies with these words which we hear several times in the Gospel accounts, the angel’s message to Mary that she would conceive a child, Jesus word’s to a father of a child who is possessed… “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.”
How is it that Jesus can call us to a life that sounds like it’s impossible to live? Because he has already gone ahead of us. Because he has gone to the cross. As we saw again over Easter, Jesus surrendered all to the will of the Father and in doing so he shows us the way in which truly receive all that God has for us, all the blessings he wants to bring into our everyday lives and it too is the way of surrender. Of letting go of the things that consume us, that drive us, that we so desperately want to control.
Maybe it’s in the area of finances as we see in today’s passage that we need to surrender again to God? Maybe it’s something else we need to give to him today – a decision about a job? A worry about the future? A particular situation we face right now?
This day let us be a people who surrender again to God. Who give these things, situations, these areas of our life to him … and allow ourselves to be held in our Fathers hands. Let us ask Jesus – the one who shows us the way- to help us to surrender ourselves afresh to God today and, as we do so, to receive and embrace the more and better life that he has won for us.
God, thank you for Jesus – the one who surrendered all so that we can know your love and life giving presence in our lives. Help us this day to surrender all to you God, to trust you and embrace all that you have for us. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.
READING: Mark 10:17-31
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?’
‘Why do you call me good?’ Jesus answered. ‘No one is good – except God alone. You know the commandments: “You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud, honour your father and mother.”’
‘Teacher,’ he declared, ‘all these I have kept since I was a boy.’
Jesus looked at him and loved him. ‘One thing you lack,’ he said. ‘Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.’
At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.
Jesus looked round and said to his disciples, ‘How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!’
The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again, ‘Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.’
The disciples were even more amazed, and said to each other, ‘Who then can be saved?’
Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.’
Then Peter spoke up, ‘We have left everything to follow you!’
‘Truly I tell you,’ Jesus replied, ‘no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields – along with persecutions – and in the age to come eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first.’