Journal Mk 10 (all references are from the ESV; changes in punctuation are mine)
Scripture: “And as (Jesus) was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Mark 10:17
Observation: Sometimes words stick out and cause my head to tilt to the side and I murmur, “Huh?” Studying a word first comes from questioning a word.
Analysis: Reading Mark 10 this morning, this quote stuck out for a single word: Inherit.
This is the story commonly known as the Rich, Young Ruler. The guy talking to Jesus self-identifies as: righteous, doing good, not getting into any trouble, following the 10 commandments from his youth until now. I would call it “polishing his halo.”
But this guy has a question about “eternal life”: what does he have to do to “inherit” it?
Strange question, at least to me, especially with the “inherit” word.
When journaling, I don’t always reach up, take down, and look words up in my Hebrew/Greek dictionary. But I do have access to a handy-dandy Microsoft Thesaurus. One of the synonyms for “inherit” is “succeed to”, as in the manner of a family member “inheriting” an estate—receiving a prize only earned/bequeathed by association.
So, I am wondering what this guy was up to? Was he looking for a verification from Jesus that he was doing all that was needed? Jesus told him, “You know the commandments: Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not bear false witness, do not defraud, honor your father and mother.” The reply? “Teach, all these I have kept from my youth…”
I wonder about this guy. He wasn’t dumb. He was rich. He ruled something—he was a SOMEBODY. I wonder whether he thought he Clep’d the course to eternal life and needed the admission counselor to verify that.
Is that what other people do? I have done this and that and “of course I am in—how could I not be?” Then, Matthew 7:21-22 kicks in: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven—‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do mighty works in your name?”
Is this the attitude like the ones in Matt 7? It is more than earning my way into the Kingdom, it is the attitude of “Of course I will not be denied entrance—do You not know who I am and what I have done?”
I have succumbed to the “check off” approach to my Christian faith before; that attitude that says, “On this so and so day, I accepted Christ.” I wonder if that approach keeps me from preaching the Gospel to myself effectively. Seriously, if that would be my attitude that I already have “assurance”, if I punched that ticket and can identify the date and time, why then do I need the Gospel for myself daily?
If I “punched the ticket” way back when, what good is the fresh, humble reminder, that Jesus died for me—an unworthy sinner?
From the other side of the coin, I “inherit” eternal life from the Atonement for my Sin by the sacrifice of the Son—the ransom for the captive; that same captive, whom by the decree of the Holy God, deserves nothing but the Wrath of the same Holy, Trinitarian God.
So, my “inheritance” is not because of association to a particular family relationship—for I have none. I have been given adoption by Grace, the UNMERITED favor of the Trinitarian God.
Jesus loved the rich, young ruler, who lacked one thing. He desired his riches over humility, thinking that he could obey himself into heaven.
Preaching the Gospel to myself is to first recognize my innate depravity and then celebrate the astounding Mercy of God by the unfathomable instrument of the Cross.
Prayer: Father, one day I will do the description of “preaching the Gospel to myself” justice. I appreciate, Holy Spirit, that you point out different aspects of the Gospel for me to meditate upon; that the Gospel isn’t just one thing, it is a Jewel of many facets.
Help me repudiate the idea, the inclination, that I don’t have to pursue You because of the attitude that my “ticket is already punched.”
Persevering to the end is not an exercise in stubbornness; it is an intentional approach of determination to excel in You as a disciple, to show progress in Godliness (1 Tim 4:15).