URC Daily Devotion 27 February 2024

St Mark 10: 13-31

People were bringing little children to him in order that he might touch them; and the disciples spoke sternly to them. But when Jesus saw this, he was indignant and said to them, ‘Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.’  And he took them up in his arms, laid his hands on them, and blessed them.

As Jesus 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?’  Jesus said to him, ‘Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You 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; Honour your father and mother.”’  He said to him, ‘Teacher, I have kept all these since my youth.’  Jesus, 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.’  When he heard this, he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions.

Then Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, ‘How hard it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!’ And the disciples were perplexed at these words. But Jesus said to them again, ‘Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God!  It 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.’ 

They were greatly astounded and said to one another, ‘Then who can be saved?’  Jesus looked at them and said, ‘For mortals it is impossible, but not for God; for God all things are possible.’ Peter began to say to him, ‘Look, we have left everything and followed you.’  Jesus 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, who 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.  But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.’


Recognition and acceptance of God’s grace rather than our actions is a link between this story and the response to the rich man’s enquiry about inheriting eternal life.

The enquiry might well have seemed odd to Jewish people who had been taught that keeping the law was enough to enjoy God’s favour.  This man felt that keeping the commandments was not enough – something more was needed.  Jesus recognised his sincerity and loved him, realising that what stopped this man from enjoying a positive, comforting, relationship with his faith was his dependence on wealth.

Salvation comes not from human effort and action but solely from the grace and unlimited power of God.  Living, as we do, in a society where the gap between rich and poor has been growing, and conscious as some of us are among the “haves” rather than the “have nots,” we should feel challenged to consider the way we use, and feel dependent on, our resources. Think on these things…

However, I also want to highlight the extra words, added in the list of commandments which are not included in Luke’s and Matthew’s accounts of this incident. “You shall not defraud.”  Did Jesus know enough about this man to know that the source of his wealth was dodgy? 

There are too many examples of people exploiting opportunities to enrich themselves which, in effect, amount to defrauding others – which also applies to economically powerful corporations and nations. Sources of wealth need to be honest and honourable. Those of us with some responsibility for the stewardship of church investments have long been concerned with ethical issues, using resources not just to avoid doing harm but to promote responsibility and sustainability for the benefit of people and planet, not defrauding current and future generations by exploitation for short term gain. Thank you, Mark, for preserving these words of Jesus.


Thank you, generous and gracious God, for entrusting us with the stewardship of your creation. Guide us and enable us, we pray, to use all resources available to us in ways that show and share the love made known in the life and teaching of Jesus, our Lord and Saviour: Amen

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