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Mark’s first-century biography – page 29

And as he (Jesus of Nazareth, c. AD 30) was setting out on his journey a man, running up to and kneeling before him, asked him, “Good Teacher, what may I do to so that I may inherit eternal life?” 
Jesus was starting his journey towards Jerusalem and death. The man was anxious, after his own death, to inherit everlasting life for himself.

But Jesus said to him, “Why do you pronounce me good? No one is good except the one God. You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honour your father and mother.’” 

Was Jesus truly good and, therefore, truly God. Leaving that issue to the man to decide, Jesus asked him about the horizontals of the 10 commandments – those to do with fellow human beings. He left aside completely the verticals of the 10 commandments – those to do with contact with Almighty God.

But he declared to him, “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.” 

He was exemplary - towards others.

‘Eternity is the lifetime of the Almighty.’ (Anon.)
But Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 

The one thing which he lacked had two aspects, both of which showed his unbreakable self-orientation. Give all to the poor. Follow the only truly “good teacher” thereby keeping the vertical commandments but losing autonomy.

Disheartened by the statement, he went away sorrowful, because he had great possessions. And Jesus, having looked around, stated to his disciples, “With what difficulty will those who have wealth come in into the kingdom of God!” 

Total self-orientation was total inability to achieve eternal life for himself. 

But the disciples were amazed at his statements. But Jesus answering stated to them again, “Children, how difficult it is to come in into the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to come through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to come in into the kingdom of God.” 

Jesus tried to help his disciples to understand the difficulty which every human being faces in self-striving to come into the eternal realm of God. Self-orientation is totally dominant in our inner being and stops us being like God.

But they were exceedingly astonished, stating to one another, “Then who can be saved?” Jesus, looking at them, stated, “For humans it is impossible, but not for God. Because all things are possible for God.” 

Jesus tried to teach his astonished disciples that human beings, rich or poor, cannot save themselves. Only God can do that – for others.

Peter began to say to him, “See, we have left everything and followed you.” Jesus declared, “Truly, I state to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who may not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life. But many first will be last, and the last first.” 

Without realising it, Peter showed his own undoubted self-orientation. But Jesus declared the abundant gifts of the selfless God towards all who follow.
‘Seek Christ and you will find him, and with him everything else thrown in.’ (C S Lewis, writer, 1898-1963) 
But they were on the road, walking together to Jerusalem, and Jesus was leading ahead of them. And they were amazed, and those following together were afraid. 

Jesus was purposefully striding to his own death, whilst his followers were full of fear – showing again their self-orientation even when following Jesus.

And taking near the twelve again, he began to state to them the things about to happen to him, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be given over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death and give him over to the Gentiles. And they will mock him and spit on him, and flog him and kill him. And after three days he will rise.” 

Why – on earth – was he given over, despised, mocked and killed?

Sinner Syvret

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