A postcard from the 20th Sunday after Pentecost 10/10/21
“But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.”
Jesus makes it clear that the Kingdom of God is not going to be structured according to the world. Case in point, young man that comes to Jesus in our reading from Mark 10:17-31 is considered blessed by the world’s standards. This man has many possessions and presumably all the social capital that goes along with being wealthy, but the young man leaves grieving because in that moment he cannot do the impossible task of selling all that he has. In comparison, the disciples, many who had few possessions to begin with, gave it all up to follow Jesus. Most folks looking at the lives of the disciples might not consider them blessed by the world’s standards. They depend on the hospitality of the towns they visit and from the world’s perspective their future is uncertain.
There is a temptation from a passage like this to demonize one group (“the haves”) and turn the other group (“the have nots”) into heroes. But things are not that simple. We know the disciples are going to face their own challenges of faith, and fail just like the wealthy, young man. And we don’t know the rest of the story for the young man. As readers of the text, we want to put us on the side of the disciples, but we know that for modern, western Christians we have a lot in common with the young man with many posessions.
This teaching from Jesus is not about who gets excluded from the Kingdom of God or who is the better Christian. We will all be challenged in our faith. And first or last, they are all in the Kingdom of God. Our salvation does not depend on our ability. Our salvation is the work of the God that created us, and our job as disciples is to respond faithfully to that amazing gift of grace.
A sermon from the Church of the Messiah in Heflin:
The 10th chapter of Mark is a critical transition between the transfiguration of Jesus and the triumphal entry into Jerusalem. On the journey to Jerusalem, Jesus teaches about the nature of true discipleship.
The Upside-Down Kingdom . . .
- Oct. 17 – St. Simon Peter, Pell City / “…where the least are the greatest”
- Oct. 24 – St. Paul’s, Greensboro / “…where the blind can see”