Devotional thoughts on Mark 10:17-31
By Jonathan Underwood
In preparing for the future, two things are especially important: insurance and investments. A certain young man came to Jesus for advice on the subject, but Jesus’ recommendations were too radical for him.
Looking for Insurance
“What must I do to inherit eternal life?” the man wanted to know. This sounds like a good question until we take a second look. While in our mind “eternal life” suggests a relationship with the Lord, he was focused merely on the security aspect. He was hoping for some grand deed, some short list of minimum requirements, that would guarantee his inclusion in the messianic kingdom. He did not want the Messiah making any demands on him; rather he wanted the Messiah to be his debtor, to owe him inclusion in the kingdom. He was looking for an insurance policy.
But the cost for insurance was more than this rich man could pay. Total dependence on God—that’s what it cost. For the rich man, getting rid of his earthly assets was key to such dependence. What does it take for us to rely totally on God?
Making an Investment
Preachers and teachers are quick to point out that this man’s case was unique, that Jesus never asked anyone else to give away everything. But is that true? What about Luke 14:33, “Those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples”? And doesn’t Matthew 6:33 say essentially the same thing? “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”
The truth of the matter is, Jesus has asked all of us to invest in the kingdom. Whether we give away what we have or merely hold it loosely, we recognize God as the owner. We invest in the kingdom because we love the King. We put our trust in him—not to secure his blessings, but in recognition that we have them. Unlike Peter, who essentially asked, “What’s in it for us?” we ask, “What can we do for you?” When we do that, we learn to rely on him. And he will not let us down!
Jonathan Underwood is a chaplain at a Christian continuing care retirement community in Cincinnati, Ohio, and a former editor of the Standard Lesson Commentary. He and his wife, Kathy, also serve missionaries through their Spanish publishing ministry, La Palabra de Cristo.