17As he was setting out on a journey, a man ran up and knelt before him, and asked him, "Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?" 18Jesus said to him, "Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. 19You know the commandments: 'You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; You shall not defraud [do not cheat]; Honor your father and mother.'" 20He said to him, "Teacher, I have kept all these since my youth." 21Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, "You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me." 22When he heard this, he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions.
23Then Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, "How hard it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!" 24And the disciples were perplexed at these words. But Jesus said to them again, "Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! 25It 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." 26They were greatly astounded and said to one another, "Then who can be saved?" 27Jesus looked at them and said, "For mortals it is impossible, but not for God; for God all things are possible."
28Peter began to say to him, "Look, we have left everything and followed you." 29Jesus said, "Truly I tell you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields, for my sake and for the sake of the good news, 30who will not receive a hundredfold now in this age―houses, brothers and sisters, mothers and children, and fields with persecutions―and in the age to come eternal life. 31But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first."
Thanks to Kenneth Bailey and Ched Myers for their help preparing this study―thanks to the astoundingly resource-filled internet, especially because most of my actual books still are in storage.
All three synoptics include this pericope, so it's important and we need to consider it.
• Matthew 19:16-23 (24-30)
• Luke 18:18-23 (24-30)
Walter Brueggemann insists the commandments are the working papers for covenantal community; they define the parameters and limits of our – relational – life together.
Mark brings us urban agricultural politics! We're all urban, but not agricultural in *that* way; this story still has a lot to say to us.
NRSV translates the Greek "as (Jesus) was going out into the way" very poorly as "setting out on a journey."
We've been discussing how incessant and relentless the way to Jerusalem and to the cross is in Mark's gospel.
Hodon—"the way" is a code phrase for Jesus' journey to Jerusalem
Hodos is a movement the followers of Jesus
"Hodos is a perspective. It is a way of encountering the world and engaging those we meet through our new lives in Jesus Christ." Travis Meier, The Bartimaeus Effect
Hodos is a way of life.
In Luke's book of Acts, we first encounter The Way in 9:2
Jesus is going to Jerusalem to give his life, to die, but this guy asks how to live.
Rich Young Ruler? Mark IDs him only as a man with many possessions. Matthew says he is young (19:20), and Luke calls him a ruler, head honcho (18:18).
The guy asks about eternal life, which typically is the gospel-writer John's phrase. Matthew prefers Kingdom of Heaven, Luke uses Kingdom of God. Elsewhere in the synoptics we hear "eternal life" only in Matthew 25:46 and Luke 10:25.
Expected Middle-Eastern practice would have been for Jesus to return the guy's "good teacher" salutation in kind with something similarly complimentary and florid, but Jesus cuts to the chase. Besides, "only God is good," and to label anyone or anything else as good is blasphemy.
10:19 "do not defraud" isn't part of the Sinai Covenant in either Exodus or Deuteronomy, but Jesus inserts it apparently in place of commandment 10, do not covet. Connotation for fraud here in Koine Greek (different from in Classical Greek) here is withhold wages, not paying what the hirelings earned (Ched Myers via Vincent Taylor).
At the cost of the greater community, and at the cost of keeping the worker indentured forever, always "owing their soul to the company store," like many southern sharecroppers, like present-day workers who pay room and board from their wages and can't afford to live elsewhere. With all that wealth, the guy wouldn't be tempted to covet, but he would be tempted to cheat and defraud so he could keep the $$$ he had and get even more.
10:22 many possessions, acquisitions, in koine Greek refers mainly to land, "real" property; it also can include flocks and herds.
Jesus' new social and economic reality
Over how long a time span do you imagine this incident took place? 15-20 minutes? Two or three hours? A day or two?
We've discussed oral transmission of texts not being written words spoken out loud, but instead carrying along with spoken narrative the culture; familial, religious, other expectations and practices. And, of course, changing, adding, elaborating on and deleting details along the way. Far different from someone saying, "today when I preach instead of reading the text from scripture, I'm going to recite it from memory."
Money has value only because there's not enough to go around for everyone, and because it carries the full faith and trust of some government. Remember the Weimar Republic and its 50,000,000,000,000 mark notes? Hyperinflation or what?
Eye of the camel: Could be a very low gate in the city wall, so you needed to unpack your camel's pack so the camel could fit through the opening (largest animal, smallest gate). There's no record of such a gate in Jesus' day, but the gospels recorded this story considerably later.
"Camel" could refer to a thick rope made of camel hair, the same way we might say, "they've actually recorded that on vinyl!" Or I could say, "I'm wearing denim" cuz the fabric of my skirt (I wore to church) is denim. Referring to a whole by its constituent part or parts. For example, even a thin rope made of camel hair would be impossible to thread through even the fat eye of a needle the disciples used to mend nets.
Where We Live:
• What captures us?
• What captivates us?
• Urban agricultural politics and economics?
• Where do we place our trust? "In God we trust?!"
"For God all things are possible." Mark 10:27b
Resurrection from the dead!