The Rich Man

My Bible, over the passage in Mark 10:17-31, says this: The Rich Young Man. I don’t know why we assume this guy was young. He was obviously rich, 10:22, but there is nothing I can see that would lead us to believe he was young. I guess that might not matter and it depends who you ask. For someone in their 80’s even a 50 year-old would be young. But what does matter is that this guy was a covenant keeper.

When he asks Jesus what he must do to inherit everlasting life Jesus quotes five commandments (5, 6, 7, 8, 9 but He quotes them in this order: 6, 7, 8, 9, 5). Jesus does not quote the first 4 Commandments which deal with the man’s relationship with God. We could assume that this guy was not told by Jesus to obey the first 4 Commandments because he already was. After all, we are told that Jesus loved him, 10:21.

There is no hint that this man was lying to himself, or trying to dupe Jesus into believing that he was sinless. Jesus’s words are not words of rebuke, or a call to repentance. Jesus’s words to him are generous because the man is genuine and faithful (to a point). I have heard and read, about this supposed rich young man that he was being deceptive, but I don’t see it.

Look what this guy does: he kneels before the King, he desires everlasting life, he has kept the commandments, and he is loved by Jesus. What Jesus calls him to is not repentance for sin or self-deception, but Jesus calls him to greater obedience based on fulfilled revelation. The King has come and must be obeyed.

Israel was going to be judged, and Jesus called this man to leave Israel behind and follow Him. Judgment was going to descend upon Jerusalem, and Jesus was giving this man a way of escape, namely to join the company of the King. And here he is faith could not go, and the man went away sorrowful because he had many possessions.

This covenant keeping man is revealed to have a heart of idolatry and he does not have enough faith to trust Jesus on this point. He could not give up his current riches for greater future riches. Jesus then says to His disciples, “many who are first will be last, and the last first.” Giving up what is required for obedience will be rewarded, even if you are last of all on earth.

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