Setting Right Priorities

Key Verse: “Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.”
—Mark 10:21

Selected Scripture:
Mark 10:17-27

MANY QUESTIONS WERE asked of Jesus during his earthly ministry. One that he particularly utilized to give an important lesson was that asked of him by a young Jewish ruler who, having caught up with Jesus in his travels, inquired, “Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?” (Mark 10:17) Jesus knew that this was a noble question, and so proceeded to remind the young man of many of the commandments of the Old Testament (vs. 19), which evidently pleased him for the moment. He quickly responded, “Master, all these have I observed from my youth,” (vs. 20), perhaps thinking that he had met the qualifications needed in order to obtain eternal life.

The young ruler quickly learned that simply keeping the “Thou shalt[s]” and “Thou shalt not[s]” of the Jewish Law was not enough. In the Key Verse of this lesson, Jesus pointed out that he still lacked something. In addition to everything he had done to keep the Law, he must also sell those things which he owned, and give the money to the poor. Not only this, but he must then take up his cross, and follow Jesus. This no doubt surprised the young man, as there was nothing in the Jewish Law that required such acts of humility and sacrifice. “He was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions.” (vs. 22) As much as he desired to attain eternal life, and as faithfully as he had kept the Law, he could not bring himself to keep the additional requirements laid out by the Master. His possessions evidently meant more to him than he was willing to give up.

Jesus proceeded later to warn his disciples about the potential problems that would come to those who, having earthly riches, desire to enter into the kingdom of God. The analogy he used is quite remarkable, for he said, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.” (vs. 25) The disciples knew that this literally would be an impossible feat, so they asked, “Who then can be saved?” (vs. 26) Jesus was not referring to a literal camel going through the eye of a literal needle. Rather he referred to a particularly low and narrow gate in the walls of Jerusalem that a camel could go through only by being completely unloaded of its burden and, bowing down, crawl through the small opening, the ‘needle’s eye.’

Jesus’ lesson to his disciples, and to us, was that regardless of what amount of riches we may have, in order to enter the spiritual phase of the kingdom we must completely divest ourselves of these earthly burdens and cares, and humbly seek to do his will in all of life’s experiences. The more of this world’s riches, honor, and influence that we possess, the more difficult it will be—although not impossible (vs. 27)—to sacrifice these things. Knowing this, should cause each of the Lord’s true followers to look at their priorities, to see whether they are directed toward earthly or heavenly things. As Jesus said in another place, “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, … But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, … For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”—Matt. 6:19-21

Dawn Bible Students Association
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