What was the problem with the young man in Mark 10, the one often referred to as “The Rich Young Ruler”, the one who asked, “What good thing must I do?” There’s certainly a lesson on wealth since Jesus asked him to get rid of his stuff, and the point is made that he was wealthy. But there may be something even simpler than that going on, especially if we contrast this event with two others in Mark 10.
First, Jesus tells us we need to be like children: “When Jesus saw what was happening, he was angry with his disciples. He said to them, ‘Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children. I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.'” (Mark 10.14, 15)
Children don’t ask, “What good thing must I do to get dinner tonight?”
Second, we have the story of the blind man who shouted, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” He wasn’t quiet and polite like the young man. And to him, Jesus said simply, “What do you want me to do for you?” (Mark 10.51)
The contrast is in the questions. Am I wanting to do something for Jesus? Or am I allowing Jesus to ask, “What can I do for you?” I don’t think it would have mattered who asked Jesus the question, “What good thing must I do?” It could have been Ghandi. Jesus would have put his finger on something other than wealth that was preventing his receiving from Jesus. Who thought that there was something he could do to help Jesus.
This is important as June and I enter a sabbatical. It will be less of what we can do for Jesus and more of what he wants to do in us. Our sabbatical advisor, Dr. Mike Oldham, told us, “Remember your theology. You need God. God doesn’t need you.”