ECCLESIOLOGICAL ETCHINGS March 2, 2023 On Sunday, I will be focusing on a passage from Mark 10, but earlier in the chapter, we find this story:
Then Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, ‘How hard it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!’ And the disciples were perplexed at these words. But Jesus said to them 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.’ They were greatly astounded and said to one another, ‘Then who can be saved?’ Jesus looked at them and said, ‘For mortals it is impossible, but not for God; for God all things are possible.’
Why were the disciples perplexed? The question, "How hard is it for the wealthy to enter the kingdom of God?" sounds like a question that Jesus would use to turn preconceived ideas upside down. In the time of Jesus, wealth was thought to be a sign of God’s blessing. And if wealth was a sign of God’s blessing, then wouldn’t entrance into heaven sort of be a no-brainer? Of course, among the many things Jesus seemed to dismantle was the connection between wealth and blessings, between monetary reward for those who are righteous. Jesus was not the first to tackle this question, as it was at the heart of the Book of Job.
I do not think Jesus was telling his disciples that wealthy folks will not enter the kingdom of heaven, but he did intend to bulldoze any belief that might have suggested wealth was proof of a person’s goodness. In my limited experience, there are some very kind and generous folks with money and some who are not so kind and generous. The real danger is when people are told that the unkind, stingy, or maybe even unjust people with lots of money should not be questioned because their bank account reveals God’s blessing.
Give me an open spirit and the wisdom capable of discerning the depth of the Jesus story. Gracious God, keep guiding me and encouraging me to find the pearls of great value that may not be visible at first glance. Amen.