Tag Archives: Mark 6

Young and Rich

I am preparing to preach this Sunday on Jesus’ encounter with a rich man in Mark 10: 17-27. The man kneels at Jesus’ feet and asks what he must do to inherit eternal life. Jesus responds, “Keep the commandments.”

The man responds, “I have kept them all from my youth.”

Jesus responds with words of love, “You lack one thing; go, sell what you own and give it to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come follow me.”

The man was shocked and went away grieving, because he had many possessions.

I think many of us are shocked by Jesus’ words as well. “You want me to do what? Sell everything?”

Barbara Taylor Brown in wrote in her book, The Preaching Life, about the two ways we mangle this story, “First by acting as if it were not about money, and second, by acting as if it were only about money.”

As far as Jesus is concerned, money is like nuclear power. It may be able to do a lot of good in the world, but only within strongly built and carefully regulated corridors. Most of us do not know how to handle it. We get contaminated by its power, and we contaminate others by wielding it carelessly ourselves – by wanting it too desperately or using it too manipulatively or believing in it too fiercely or defending it too cruelly.

But it is not a story that is only about money, because if it were we could all buy our way into heaven by cashing in our chips right now and you know that is not so. None of us earns eternal life, not matter what we do. We can keep the commandments until we are blue in the face; we can sign our paycheck over to Mother Teresa and rattle tin cups for our supper without earning a place at God’s banquet table. The kingdom of God is not for sale. The poor cannot buy it with their poverty any more than the rich can buy it with their riches. The kingdom of God is God’s consummate gift, to be given to whomever God pleases, for whatever reason please God. (The Preaching Life., p. 124)

Strong words for a great story. God’s grace is even greater than the world, and especially our love of riches.

Lord Jesus, set me free from the love of money and center my heart on you.

R U Hungry?

This coming Sunday at Resurrection our Gospel reading will be Mark 6, Jesus’ feeding of the 5000. It is a familiar story that is in all four gospels. On several occasions when food was running low at a church event, people would approach me as pastor to duplicate Jesus multiplying the loaves and fishes. I have failed every time to perform some magic trick. However, I never remember anyone going away hungry. Usually we “s-t-r-e—t – c—h” out the food to feed whomever is needy.

Like many stories in scripture this is open to various interpretations as to how it impacts our lives. I don’t believe the story has only one meaning to it, that once the reader discovers it, the story is finished. Rather the story rubs up against my life, challenging, enlightening, guiding my life.

A primary interpretation is that Jesus is like Moses in the Exodus, providing manna in the wilderness for the people of God. In fact Jesus is God himself, since he did not need to consult God about the people’ need, but simply blessed, broke and gave the bread to the people, a foreshadowing of his “blessing, broke and gave” sequence at the Passover meal (Mark 14:22). Jesus is the one who feeds us. John 6 is a lengthy teaching on Jesus as the bread of life.

But I think a second interpretation is the calling of the disciples to feed the people.

Jesus said to them, “You give them something to eat.” (Mark 6:26)

Jesus gave the loaves to the disciples that they might feed the people. As followers of Jesus we are called to be people who feed others, literally. The church has often been an agency that works to feed the hungry. Whether it is the hungry in the horn of Africa or local hunger of our city streets, we are still called by God to feed the hungry around us.  God has blessed us that we might give to others in Jesus’ name.

Lord Jesus, teach me how to feed the hungry in your name.