The Costly Route to Eternal Life: A Homiletical Meditation on Mark 10:17-22 -- By: Nelson D. Kloosterman

Journal: Reformation and Revival
Volume: RAR 12:1 (Winter 2003)
Article: The Costly Route to Eternal Life: A Homiletical Meditation on Mark 10:17-22
Author: Nelson D. Kloosterman

The Costly Route to Eternal Life: A Homiletical Meditation on Mark 10:17-22

Nelson D. Kloosterman

As Jesus was setting out on a journey, a man who had run up to him and had knelt before him asked him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments, ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.” And he replied to him, “Teacher, I have kept all these things from my youth.” Looking at him, Jesus loved him and said to him, “One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” Saddened at these words, he went away grieving, for he was one who owned much property (Mark 10:17–22 [author’s translation]).

Finding ourselves in this text can be a challenge, I suppose. Perhaps a sense of alienation makes it difficult for us to identify with this young man—unlike Nicodemus, who secretly meets with Jesus in the dark for spiritual counseling, asking questions that we’d like to ask. Or, unlike those mothers and fathers who brought their little children to Jesus for his blessing and benediction that we covet for our kids. We can easily identify with them. But as we read the story of Mark 10:17–22, we keep looking for a point of contact.

As we enter the narrative, we need to recover two particular facts or realities of this situation in order to understand

properly both the conversation and episode.

The first fact is that this nameless young man was a son of the covenant. This is evident from Jesus’ assumption that the young man indeed knew the commandments that had been given by God to Moses. As a son of the covenant, this man’s life was governed and directed by God’s law, the Torah. Every detail of the story suggests, therefore, that the rich young ruler was a full-blooded son of Abraham.

The second reality we must recover is the validity of his seeking eternal life. To be sure, eternal life is a gift, a divine donation—and yet the Bible is clear that God’s children must pursue eternal life, yearn for it, seek after it, hold on to it (see John 6:27, especially Romans 2:7, Galatians 6:8, 1 Timothy 6:12).

And that is what th...

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