Feast upon the Word Blog

A blog focused on LDS scriptures and teaching

Sunday School Lesson #17

Posted by Jim F. on May 5, 2007

Lesson 17: Mark 10:17-30; 12:41-44; and Luke 12:13-21; 14; 16

Given the quantity of material in these chapters, rather than try to cover everything, I will focus my questions on the verses from Mark and selections of the verses from Luke. As you read this material, be sure to ask how it applies to us who live in the latter-days. What do these verses teach us about taking up our cross (cf. Jacob 1:8, 3 Nephi 12:30, and perhaps Alma 39:9)? What do they teach about riches (not what do we recall others saying that they teach, but what do they really teach)? What does the parable and explanation in Luke 16:1-12 teach us about our relation to the world?

Mark 10:17-30

Verses 13-16: How is the story of verses 13-16 connected to pericope in verse 17-30? Why does the fact that the man is running suggest? Why does he kneel? That is an unusual thing to do before a teacher, which is a more accurate translation of the word that the King James version translates “Master.” Why do you think the man uses the unusual title “good teacher”? Why does Jesus reject being called “good” (verse 18)? What does this person want? Compare this story to that in Matthew 12:28-34. How is the scribe in that story like the person in this one? Jesus says that the man knows the commandments (verse 19). What does that tell us about that person? Why might Jesus have reworded the commandment “Do not covet” as “Defraud not”? Which of the Ten Commandments does Jesus not mention in his initial response (verse 19)? Is that relevant? Are the first four of the Ten Commandments implied in his second response (verse 21)? If so, how so? What do we learn from the first part of verse 21, “then Jesus beholding him loved him”? What does it mean to say that Jesus beheld him? Clearly he was already looking at him. Doesn’t Jesus love everyone? Jesus tells the man that, in terms of observing the Torah, he lacks only one thing (21). What is that one thing? What is the most important part of the commandment in the second part of verse 21? What does “take up your cross” mean? Cf. Matthew 16:24, Mark 8:34, and Luke 9:23.) How does this story compare to Matthew 8:18-22 (Luke 9:57-62)? Jesus say little about property, but what he does say has a negative slant. Why? What does that mean for us? The KJV translates the first part of verse 22 merely as “and he was sad at that saying,” but a more literal and, I think, better translation is “but he, becoming gloomy at the word.” What makes this man gloomy? Why did the prospect of giving away his possessions grieve (literally “pain”) him?

What does it mean to be rich? Is that an absolute description or a comparative one? If it is comparative, to whom ought we to compare ourselves in deciding whether we are rich? When Jesus exclaims, “How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the Kingdom of God” (verse 23), why are the disciples astonished (verse 24)? What does their astonishment show about their belief? If we go behind what we say about riches, both publically and to ourselves, to our behaviors and attitudes, are we ever astonished that it is difficult for the rich to be saved? How does this story relate to Jesus admonition in Matthew 6:24 (Luke 16:13)? Why does Jesus call the disciples children (verse 24)? At verse 24, many New Testament manuscripts differ from the manuscripts used by the KJV. They omit “for them that trust in riches,” so that instead the last part of the verse says merely “How hard is it to enter into the kingdom of God!” What difference does that make to what Jesus is saying? Which version of the verse do you think is probably right? Why? What is the point of verse 25?

Note: “Many stories have been told to indicate that the “eye of the needle” is a small postern gate that was opened at night when the city gate had been shut, and that a camel could get through it provided it had been fully unloaded. It is a nice story but not true in biblical terms. The eye of a needle is a surgeon’s needle. In both Matthew 19 and Matthew 23, the point was that the camel was the largest animal with which people of the day were familiar. Jesus was using the term much as we would use the word elephant as the largest creature in our experience. Jesus may also have used the camel as an illustration because it was ritually unclean.” (Gower, R., & F. Wright. The New Manners and Customs of Bible Times. Chicago: Moody Press, 1997, c1987.) A century or two later in Judaism there was a similar rabbinic parable that spoke of an elephant rather than a camel.

In verse 26 the disciples are even more astonished and they seem to ask “If the rich can’t be saved, then who can?” If that isn’t what they are asking, what is it? Is what Jesus teaches here related to his teaching about the narrow gate and how one enters that gate (Matthew 7:13-14; Luke 13:23-24)? Verse 27 begins “Jesus looking upon them saith.” Why is important that he looked at his disciples? Is that parallel to him beholding the person in verse 21? What doew Jesus see that caused him to say what he does in verse 27? In verse 27, Jesus seems to be referring to Genesis 18:14. How might that reference be significant to what he teaches here?

Mark tells us (verse 28) that Peter began to say something and was interrupted by Jesus (verse 29). What was Peter trying to say? What does Jesus’ interruption show? In verses 29-30, Jesus promises that those who deny themselves will receive a hundredfold “in this time.” What does that phrase mean? What does it mean to receive a hundredfold “with persecutions”?

Mark 12:41-44

Two mites were approximately 1/100 of a day laborer’s wages (Word Biblical Commentary 34b:283), no more than about $3, or even less in today’s wages. How does this story contrast with the rest of chapter 12? How might it have given the disciples hope? What do you make of the comparison between the abundance (which could also be translated “excess”) of the wealthy and the want (or “lack”) of the widow?

Luke 12:13-21

In verse 13, what is the man asking Jesus to do? It seems that rabbis were often called to settle family disputes. Many recognized Jesus as a rabbi. Why, then, does he refuse to settle this (verse 14)? Isn’t he the ultimate Judge? (Compare John 3:17-18, remembering that the word “condemn” could also be translated “judge.”) Why does the man’s demand cause Jesus to speak to his disciples about covetousness? What is covetousness? The Greek word translated “covetousness” means “wanting more.” Does that tell us anything about what Jesus is criticizing? What does it mean to say “a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance [excess] of the things which he possesses” (verse 15)? Does the story of the young man in Mark 10 offer an alternative for giving life meaning? What is it? (See also Luke 9:23-25). Why is that the only thing that can truly give life meaning?

How is what the farmer does in Jesus story (verse 16-20) differ from what Joseph did in Egypt? Does this story teach that we ought not to retire or to prepare for retirement? What does God’s reproof in verse 20 mean? What would it mean to be “rich toward God”? The Greek word translated “to be rich” means also “to have abundance.” How do we have abundance toward God? Jesus gives a brief sermon explaining this parable in verses 22-40. Compare the two and ask yourself what this means for your own life.

Luke 14:15-33

In response to what incident did Jesus tell the parable in verses 16-24? How is the man’s response in verse 15 a response to what Jesus said in verse 14? Does it tell us anything about the man? How are the excuses that the invitees offer like that of the young man in Mark 10:17-22? How is the parable of verses 16-24 related to the teachings of verses 26-35? The word “hate” in verse 26 is accurate, but it is probably hyperbolic. (Compare Proverbs 13:24 and 2 Samuel 19:6.) The Greek word can also be translated “disregard.” (Also see the JST translation.) How would those listening to Jesus probably have responded to this? Is he intentionally alienating them? If so, why? If not, how so? Read the JST for verse 27. Does it change the meaning of these verses or does it augment that meaning? The comparisons that Jesus makes in verses 28-32 are to people who carefully take into account what their actions will cost them before they proceed: a builder and a king going to war. Why does Jesus tell two parables that make the same point? What do these parables tell us about forsaking all and following Christ? Verse 33 says that if we do not forsake all, we cannot be disciples of Christ or, conversely, if we are his disciples, then we have forsaken all. In our context, what does it mean to forsake all? How do we do so—and have we done so? Look at the verses inserted in the JST. (They are in the JST material in the back of your Bible.) What do they mean in the context of forsaking all and counting the cost of discipleship?

Luke 16:1-12

A steward was usually a slave entrusted with the management of a household. What that might mean would depend on the type and size of the household he was to manage. Some speculate that the master in question is one who did not reside at the household managed by the steward, an absentee landlord as it were. That isn’t necessarily the case. A steward entrusted with money was expected to make a profit for his master, but stewards often also made money for themselves by manipulating the master’s loans and by charging extra interest. Within limits, it seems that such practices were either tolerated or even expected. We might substitute the word “squandered” for “wasted” and understand the meaning more accurately. The phrase “I am resolved” in verse 4 means “I’ve known all along.” What do we see the steward doing? Why does his master commend the steward rather than condemn him (verse 8)? In the same verse Jesus says “for the children of this world are in their generation [i.e., in their time] wiser than the children of light.” What does that mean? The word mammon (verse 9) seems to mean “that in which one trusts.” What is Jesus recommending in verse 9? Is it related to any of the teachings of Ecclesiastes (for example, Ecclesiastes 2:24-26; 3:11-12)? How does verse 10 explain verse 9? Are verses 11 and 12 parallel? Can you see different ways of reading “if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man’s, who shall give you that which is your own?” (verse 12). Who might the “other man” be in this life? In the eternities?

13 Responses to “Sunday School Lesson #17”

  1. Robert C. said

    This parable of the unjust steward in Luke 16 is rather confusing to me. It was helpful to me to read the NET version here (though I’m guessing Nibley is rolling in his grave b/c of the choice to translate “steward” as “manager”…). With the help of commentaries, I understand it, very roughly, as follows:

    Verses 1-8: A steward who knows he’s getting fired shrewdly uses the window of time after he knows he’s getting fired but before he loses his authority to curry favor with his master’s debtors. The master recognizes that this act was shrewd and compliments the steward for it (v. 8).

    Verse 9: We should bless others so that those others will be our friends in heaven (and/or that others in heaven seeing our acts will recognize our acts and we’ll be that much better off in heaven).

    Verses 10-12: The NET pargaraphing here (NRSV is the same) is helpful (if correct!) in that I think this is harking back to the beginning of the story. The “dishonesty” is referring to the stewards original failure at being a good steward (rather than referring to the shrewdness, which is arguably dishonest, in verse 8). So here we have an explanation of what is quite familiar to most of us: the principle of stewardship (i.e. if we’re faithful over what we have stewardship over in this life, we’ll be entrusted with much more in the eternities).

    Verse 11: I’m inclined to think that the two masters here refers back to the situation of the unjust(/dishonest) steward who chooses to curry favor with the debtors rather than trying to simply acquire as much money as he can from the debtors (and, perhaps trying to keep it for himself). If the steward had tried to extract money for himself, he would be serving mammon, and this is short-sighted (even if he were successful in doing so, he wouldn’t have a future job or friends…). So, we should serve God (and others, as per the 2nd great commandment) rather than trying to just accumulate wealth.

    Well, that’s a sketch of my current understanding. I’d be interested in hearing others’ thoughts, about this reading or alternatives. I’d also be quite interested in possible symbolic significance (I finally read Jack Welch’s article on the Good Samaritan which, along with my thinking about symoblism in John, has me eager to look for deeper, symoblic meanings of Jesus’ parables…).

  2. Laura D. said

    Robert,

    The parable of the unjust stewart has also been difficult for me. I’ve always thought it was so worldly. But the other night, I read this take on it in Dummelow (for what it’s worth–I’m typing it in pretty much verbatim because I don’t think my summary would do it justice):

    “The details of this somewhat difficult parable are probably not significant. It is intended to illustrate the proper use of wealth. Christians should use it so well here on earth, by expending it not selfishly on their own pleasures, but unselfishly for the good of others, and for the advancement of God’s kingdom, that instead of hindering them from reaching heaven, it will help them to enter there. The prudence (foresight) of the steward is commended in this parable, not his dishonesty.”

    “8. And the lord] RV ‘his lord,’ i.e. his master. Many readers wrongly imagine that Jesus is the speaker here. Because he had done wisely] i.e. ‘prudently.’ The master praised not the morality of the transaction, but its far-sighted prudence, and it is just this that Jesus holds up for imitation. For the children (sons) of this world (i.e. worldly people) are in their generation (i.e. in dealing with other worldly people) wiser (i.e. more prudent and far-seeing) than the children of light (i.e. than the spiritually enlightened are in making provision for their heavenly welfare).

    “9. Make to yourselves] i.e. make to yourselves friends in heaven by means of a prudent use of your wealth (viz. by hospitality, almsdeeds; etc.), that when ye fail, i.e. die (or, according to the RV, when ‘it,’ i.e. you wealth, ‘fail’), the angels may receive you into the eternal habitations. Of] RV ‘by means of.’ Friends] i.e. either ‘the poor,’ who by their prayers obtain your admission to heaven, or, more probably, ‘the angels,’ who become the friends of those who give alms, and at the last carry their souls to heaven. The mammon of unrighteousness] A common rabbinical expression. It occurs in the pre-Christian book of Enoch. It does not here mean wealth unrighteously acquired, but simply ‘deceitful wealth.’ So we speak of ‘filthy lucre,’ not meaning unjust gain, but gain in general . . . . So rightly Calvin: ‘By giving this name to riches, he intends to render them an object of our suspicion, because for the most part they involve their possessors in unrighteousness.’

    “10,11. V. 11 explains v. 10. If you are unfaithful in such an unimportant matter as money (i.e. if you do not spend your incomes to the glory of God), God will not entrust you with those spiritual gifts, graces, and virtues which are much more important. 12. If you do not spend your money rightly, you will not inherit the kingdom of heaven. Money is here called that which is another’s, because Christians are to regard it not as their own, but as a trust for which they must one day give account. That which is your own is the joy of heaven, ‘the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.'”

    (Please excuse any typos). I like this explanation because it puts a spiritual interpretation on the parable and on the part that wealth should, or should not play, in our lives.

  3. Robert C. said

    Laura, thanks a lot for posting this. I generally like what Dummelow says, but I have a concern about the following statement:

    Christians should use [wealth] so well here on earth, by expending it not selfishly on their own pleasures, but unselfishly for the good of others.

    I agree with this statement, but I don’t think this is something we see illustrated in the story (and I’m not saying Dummelow is claiming that, I’m just saying…). Rather, it seems the man in the story is phronimos (“shrewd” in the NRSV as well as several other modern translations; I think “prudent” gives the steward a bit too much credit…) in the sense of being a bit self-serving in his far-sightedness. But, clearly, I don’t think Jesus is advocating self-serving attitude; rather I think he is indeed advocating the farsighted nature of this serving-of-others. So perhaps I’m simply splitting hairs here and shouldn’t be wasting everyone’s time in making this ultimately rather subtle point. On the other hand, I think this difference is interesting in how it relates to the phronimos in Matt 10:16, “be ye wise[/shrewd] as serpents, and harmless of doves.”

  4. brianj said

    Robert C: I don’t think you’re wasting time. If Jesus simply wanted to illustrate the need to be farsighted, he could have told a different story, or changed the details of this one so the farsighted character was not also questionable. But he told this story, and we are left confused (again, I’m thinking of our earlier discussion about parables) as to what it means. Jesus undoubtedly recognized the “shrewdness”—or “sneakiness”—of the steward in his story. I wonder if there isn’t some story in the scriptures that parallels this parable.

  5. brianj said

    Just a quick note on the assigned reading: I can’t understand why the lesson plan has us read Mark 10:17-30, but leaves off verse 31. That verse seems soooo important to Jesus’ message, particularly since there is a significant JST footnote attached, which essentially is Jesus’ summary of what he just said:

    “But there are many who make themselves first, that shall be last, and the last first. This he said, rebuking Peter . . .”

  6. Robert C. said

    BrianJ, care to elaborate on how you understand verse 31? Turns out I’m going to teach this to the older kids in my in-laws’ ward this Sunday, and I’m inclined to focus mostly on this Mark 10 story, but I don’t know how to make sense of verse 31 (which means I don’t know how to make sense of the entire passage!)

    I’m currently stuck on Jim’s question about why the man runs in approaching Jesus. My first inclination is to think that the man is overly-hurried, in contrast to the “wait on the Lord”, “go out not with haste” and other “unhurried” scriptures esp. in Isaiah (see the wiki note on verse 4 regarding “hasty fruit”). Or, similarly, as someone who is overly works-obsessed and worn-out running around trying to do everything and “counting the cost” (and benefit) rather than just serving with complete heart, might, mind and strength (the Mary and Martha story also comes to mind, where Martha was too busy trying to prepare everything…).

    But I’m rethinking this view as I’m reading about the term run in the Theological Dictionary of the New Testament. I’m still on the part about the OT usage of the term. It seems it is usually used for fleeing from enemies or running in response to a call from God or to serve some other person. None of these usages seem to challenge my view above, but 1 Sam 20:6 does somewhat because it seems there someone is running to fulfill a temple obligation. (I’ll probably elaborate on this a bit later after I’ve read more…).

    But, regardless of how the word is used in other scripture, the word “run” of course can be used with various connotations in various places. I think this richness of meaning and ambiguity of the word in this case increases the richness of meaning for the entire passage: in contrast to the view I just described, the man might also be running in the good sense of being anxious to know what more he can do, and so the dramatic turn in verse 22 where he goes “away grieved, for he had great possessions.”

    (I just noticed Psalm 119:2, “I will run the way of your commandments”, NRSV—cf. verse 60 also. On the other hand, we see in Job 15:26 we see a sinner running in battle against God….)

  7. Cherylem said

    This has been a helpful link for me to study Mark: http://www.ioa.com/~cwconrad/Mark/

  8. Robert C. said

    Cheryl, thanks, that’s a great site and has some great links. And I liked his point about verse 31 be a transition or lead-in into the next section (vv. 32-45)—see his note 445

  9. brianj said

    Robert: I’ll try to explain how I understand the reading assignment for Mark 10:17-30, but in order to do so I have to expand the reading to vs. 13-31, inclusive and using the JST.

    Verse 13-14 show a child coming to Jesus, and in verse 15 there is a key phrase, with one particularly important word: “Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child….” What makes children such good “spiritual role models”? They are unwise, often disobedient, fearful, etc.—none of which are traits God would have us retain. So in many ways, children are pretty bad examples for Jesus to use, but for this particular teaching, they are perfect. Why? Because Jesus wants to make the point that heaven is something one receives, not something one earns or conquers or deserves. Children are totally dependent on their parents—and Jesus wants us to know we are likewise totally dependent on God. (I doubt that any of what I just wrote is new to you, but I want you to see my whole thinking.)

    Now go to verse 17: the man asks Jesus what he must “do” to “inherit eternal life.” In fairness to the man, he came late to the discussion and didn’t just hear what Jesus said about children, but I think Mark wants us to be thinking, “Oh no, you didn’t just ask that!” (Sort of like a Nickelodeon skit where the audience and all the actors minus one know the “secret word,” and once the unsuspecting player says the word he gets a pie in the face.)

    But what is wrong with the man, besides asking the wrong question? I think his riches and his obedience to the law are extraneous; the “one thing he lacks,” as Jesus puts it, is that there is no room (or not enough) in his heart and mind to receive God. Giving his wealth to the poor isn’t intended to teach the man charity, but is just to get the riches out of the way. (In fact, it is definitely not to teach him charity, because that would be yet one more thing the man could “chalk up” in his list of virtues.) Take away that crutch—that feeling of control and influence over his own destiny—and he will have the opportunity to trust in God. And that’s the final part of Jesus’ message to him: “follow me.” Where? How long? What will they do? None of those questions are answered—the man would be completely at Jesus’ mercy.

    In verse 21 there is also a message about treasure in heaven. Jesus says, “…you will have treasure in heaven.” This implies that the man currently did not have treasure in heaven, but if he did what Jesus tells him, then he would. But wait—the man had kept all the commandments. Aren’t those good for something? Shouldn’t this guy have loads of treasure waiting for him? More on this below….

    Now move down to verses 23-27 (read the JST for 27). Jesus comments on this man’s troubles. Verse 25 may as well read: “It is impossible for a rich man to enter heaven.” Two key words: “rich” and “enter.” We already discussed the later: no one “enters” into heaven, as though we have the power to simply climb a staircase and open a door; rather one “receives” it or is “brought in.” But what defines a “rich” man? Is it the amount of money one owns? Is there a difference between being a man who is rich and being a rich man? I think so, and I think the v 27 JST agrees: a rich man trusts his riches and is described and defined by them, but a man who is rich is not defined by his wealth—it is not who he is. He can put his trust in God—and with God, any thing is possible, whether it be threading a camel through a needle or pulling a mortal sinner from earth and into heaven. Well, almost anything is possible—it is impossible for God to do this to those who do not trust in him, those who will not receive his invitation.

    Another nice thing about the JST for verse 27 is that it makes verse 28 flow naturally. Jesus just said, “…men who trust in God and leave all for my sake.” Peter picks up on—unfortunately—the wrong part of that phrase. “Oh, well then, we’re sitting pretty because we left everything to follow you so that means we’ve earned a place in heaven!” Of course, Peter doesn’t get all the way through his thought, because Jesus cuts him off. What follows is Jesus reiterating the point that Peter missed. “Yes, Peter: people—including you—will be rewarded by God, but the point I really wanted to make is this:

    “But there are many who make themselves first, that shall be last, and the last first.” (JST 10:31)

    In other words, when Jesus said, “…men who TRUST IN GOD and leave all for my sake,” Peter heard, “…men who trust in God and LEAVE ALL for my sake.” Peter and the unnamed rich man are searching for ways to be in control of eternal life, some tangible act that they, within themselves, can perform that will ensure a place in heaven. They do it and then say to themselves, “Hooray, I did it: I got myself into heaven!”

    Hence, the final words of the JST for 31: “This he said, rebuking Peter . . .”

    Summary: I am drawn to Alma 41:10-15 (and Alma 34:34 and D&C 130:2) as I think about these verses, specifically:

    “And now behold, is the meaning of the word restoration to take a thing of a natural state and place it in an unnatural state, or to place it in a state opposite to its nature? …The meaning of the word restoration is to bring back again evil for evil,…good for that which is good; righteous for that which is righteous; just for that which is just; merciful for that which is merciful.

    Therefore, my son, see that you are merciful unto your brethren; deal justly, judge righteously, and do good continually; and if ye do all these things then shall ye receive your reward; [and what is the reward for doing good? if I am honest do I get a nice mansion in heaven? chastity buys me an ocean view? charity secures for me an especially nice pair of wings? No! the reward for righteousness is:] yea, ye shall have mercy restored unto you again; ye shall have justice restored unto you again; ye shall have a righteous judgment restored unto you again; and ye shall have good rewarded unto you again.”

    In other words, if I am honest in this life then the eternal reward is that I get to continue being honest. If I am merciful, then I get to continue being merciful. Some may say, “That’s a rip-off! I go through my whole life and never tell a lie and all I get in return is that I get to keep being honest for eternity?” And I think the answer the Lord would give is, “Yes. If you don’t like being honest, chaste, merciful…then don’t be. But if you do enjoy it, then the good news is that you can continue being that way forever.” The rich man couldn’t enter heaven because there isn’t money there; wealth could only be restored to him where wealth exists: in some lower (terrestrial?) kingdom. Peter was rebuked because he wanted to think that he only had to “leave all behind” in this life; in the life to come he could get it all back. “No, Peter,” Jesus says, “if you don’t like following me now just for the sake of following me, why would you want to follow me then?”

  10. Rebecca L said

    Brian J.
    Thanks! Really great comments. I’ve only been able to understand this passage as you have, in the context of the “child” and the following dispute about authority (wisdom, wealth, power all overturned) as Christ shows what is requisite in an entirely new kind of kingdom. I also love the interplay between the idea of “good” as exemplified by piety and the whole-hearted thoroughness (perfection?) demanded of a disciple (“more than burnt offerings and sacrifices” Mark 12:33/ Hosea 6:6)

    Peter really is the fall guy in Mark, isn’t he? I like how you draw out the continuing revelation of what it means to follow the way, ending in the simple story of the blind man.

    The literal admonition to “sell all thou hast” if read generally is simultaneously too hard (ie. are we really supposed to all become ascetics?) and too easy–if only I could give away all I have and “purchase” the kingdom and keep the independence of my heart and will intact!

    The story of the young rich man represents for me another face of the Abrahamic moment which we we will all face (D&C 101:4 “Therefore, they must needs be chastened and tried, even as Abraham, who was commanded to offer up his only son.”)

    I like the combination of this story with that in Luke 12, and the idea of our treasure being where our heart is (Luke 12:34) and that our hearts should not be distracted from waiting upon the Lord through the watches of this night. Also the many types of excuses that are given by the invited guests really show that is not just wealth, but discipleship, that we are talking about (Luke 14:18-21 and cf. Luke 9:57-62). The Lord’s summary: “If any man come to me and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And whosoever doth not bear his cross and come after me, cannot be my disciple.”

    The fear, of course, with restoration is that we will no longer want (as my dieting husband put it) the triple chocolate brownie fudge sundae and since we didn’t enjoy it now we never will. Our actual voluntary abandonment of “all”–whatever that is for us– (Luke 14:33) is probably the best measure of whether are ready to receive the kingdom.

    Sorry for rambling a bit!

  11. Robert C. said

    BrianJ, thanks, this is fantastic (I’ll have to try pushing you more often with questions like this!). I’ll try to post some follow-up thoughts after I think about this a bit. For now, one thing your comments made me think of in going back and reading for context, is the “one thing” in v. 21 as a possible allusion/echo of the “one flesh” in v. 8: the devotion we have to our spouse and to God needs to be one that does not “count the cost” one hardship at a time but gives/loves/serves unconditionally (here is a very grace-focused counter-take on the Luke 14 parable this “count the cost” phrase perhaps comes from, where it is argued that the parable is telling us that if we count the cost of the project of, say, becoming perfect, we’ll realize we don’t have what it takes and will turn to God and look to Him for help; I think the interpretation needs some work, but is a rather interesting idea).

    And thanks for your thoughts too, Rebecca—I just saw it when in the spam folder, along with mine; I think there’s a been a lot of spammers working overtime lately and it seems our spam filter is filtering a lot more real comments lately….

  12. Jim F. said

    BrianJ, like Rebecca L and Robert C, I think your reading is very interesting and helful. Thanks for sharing it.

  13. brianj said

    Rebecca: Thanks for showing how my reading of Mark 10 plays into the readings in Luke. As I prepared my lesson, I kept thinking the passages in Luke made so much more sense when thought about that way.

    Also, thanks for mentioning the “Abrahamic moment.” As I thought about what Jesus was asking this man—to make a complete leap of faith/trust—I felt sympathy for him; I don’t feel that I am ready to make that leap either. It’s not that I don’t trust the Lord, but it is that I’m not sure that I don’t need those other things (control, money, etc.—my “triple-chocolate brownie fudge sundaes”) to be happy—not sure that I can do without them. I think your dieting husband’s analogy is really good: I trust that God will provide nutritious food in adequate supply, but can I really give up Mint Milano cookies? I want to trust God and mammon.

    Robert: Your thoughts on “one thing” and “one flesh” are quite interesting. Maybe the “one thing” the rich man lacks is really more of a “one-ness thing”?

    I like that reading of the tower building and warring kings parables in Luke 14. The author identifies three points that stood out to him in the parables; I would add on more: both the builder and the king have to suffer humiliation. The world looks on them as weak or careless, but that is (I think) one cost of being a disciple.

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