The disciples of Jesus had more remarkable experiences than any other group of human beings. The sudden stilling of the storm on the Lake of Galilee was one event that particularly astonished them, but in today’s 10th chapter of Mark we may have a sense of surprise at the cause behind the statement, “And his disciples were amazed at his words.”
Jesus had just said, “How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God” [v.23,24]. His comment was the sequel to a situation when an earnest man ran up to him and said “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” [v.17] Jesus says, “You know the commandments and spells out most of them, and he responds, “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth” [v.20] “And Jesus, looking at him, loved him.”
But the love of Jesus did not blot out a fatal flaw in the man’s character, Jesus said, “You lack one thing.” The Master who sees and knows all things told him to use his “great possessions” in helping the poor.
“Sell all that you have” he was told – but that was not the end of Christ’s words; but the man’s thinking had collapsed over that request.
The climax was a wonderful invitation, “come follow me… you will have treasure in heaven…” (v,21) But his mind could not jump the hurdle of his trust in wealth and “he went away sorrowful.” It was this event which caused Jesus to comment to his disciples about wealth and the great difficulties their possession cause for people who possess them. It amazed them!.
This brings our minds to bear on today’s readings in 1 Kings ch. 10 about Solomon’s great wealth, that he “excelled all the kings of the earth in riches and in wisdom.” [v.23]
But in the end his riches distracted him “so Solomon did not wholly follow the LORD” [ch. 11 v.6] and the lack of wisdom of his son Rehoboam led to a great loss of them.(ch.12) Solomon became obsessed by possessions (see what he confesses in Ecclesiastes 1 & 2).
And us? Our world is full of things to distract us, many of us – from Jesus’ perspective are ‘wealthy’ compared to previous generations. Jesus says to us, “Come follow me” If we have said, or decide to say, “Yes Lord” – let us do so – making sure there are no earthly possessions which are distracting us. Those who “follow me”, says Jesus “receive a hundredfold now in this lime … and in the age to come, eternal life.” [v.30].
This was the Apostle Paul’s experience, he expresses his position very succinctly, “as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing, as poor, yet making many rich, as having nothing, yet possessing everything.” [2 Cor.6 v.10]