The Last Will Be First

A young ruler or nobleman walks up to Jesus with confidence and asks him what he must do to achieve eternal life. Jesus responds by pointing the man to the sufficiency of God, and helps him recognize that his only hope is in total reliance on God, who alone can give eternal life. After stating the six commandments that prohibit wrong actions and attitudes against another man or woman, the nobleman is seen projecting his goodness to Jesus, not yet understanding the point that Jesus is making about the impossibility of doing anything to deserve eternal life. However, Mark tells us that Jesus looks upon this man and loves him, which demonstrates that Jesus’ response is not intended to shame him or expose his failure to recognize the spiritual depth of the commandments, but that it is said out of genuine love. Jesus then brings it back to the one thing that the man is earnestly looking for, namely an answer to his question. But the man is quickly disappointed because of his great wealth. Jesus explains to him that his wealth stands in the way of his dependence on God, which frames for us an important lesson. In this passage, we discover that Jesus truly wants us to cast aside the things that hinder us from complete and total dependence on God.