Mark 10:13-31 - Childlike or richlike?

The next two bits of Mark 10 are about children and then a rich man and they make an interesting contrast about how to approach Jesus...

Mark 10:13-31

The fact that the disciples told the kids off for coming to Jesus (v13) shows they had a little bit of a pride problem.  Maybe they thought Jesus was just for adults, or worse - just for adults as good as they were.  That would be ridiculous.  No wonder Jesus is mad about it (v14).  He welcomes the children and uses them as an example of how everyone should come to him (v14-16) and I think it's about humility, simplicity and dependency.  The kids don't come to Jesus thinking they're important or deserve anything, they don't come with complicated questions to test him and they don't come thinking they don't need anything.  They're a great example to everyone.

The attitude and approach of the children stands in stark contrast to that of the rich man who comes to Jesus next.  He comes with pride, a question to justify himself and is dependent only on his own good works to make him right with God.  He's asking the wrong question.  It's not about what he can do - it's about what only Jesus can do.

When Jesus says, 'Why do you call me good?  No-one is good except God alone' (v18), he's challenging the rich man's logic.  If he thinks he can do his way into heaven and is good enough for God, then why does he need help from Jesus at all?  What's the point of coming to Jesus unless he's the only one who is truly good? It's a great question Jesus asks and it should help the man think about his pride problem.

The rich man continues to try and justify himself.  He's hoping Jesus will say something like, 'Well done!  You're one of the good ones.  You'll be in heaven for sure!  See you there!' but the confirmation never comes and instead, Jesus says the one thing he lacks is to sell his wealth, give all the money to the poor and then come and follow him (v21).  Is Jesus saying that this guy really can earn his way to being right with God if he only gives away his wealth?  I don't think so.  The 'one thing' the man lacks is a deep conviction of his sin and helplessness before God.  Jesus gives him a challenge that he knows the rich man will find too hard.  I'm sure he's is hoping the rich man will try (because of his pride) and then fail (because of his pride) and then maybe he'll return with a very different question.  Maybe when he comes back, instead of trying to justify himself, he'll come like the kids did - in humility, simplicity and dependency and asking for mercy, forgiveness and help.

Jesus talks with his disciples about how hard it is for rich people to come to him and be part of his kingdom family (v23-25).  It's hard because most rich people have the same problem this guy had - pride.  The rich generally find it hard to recognise their need for God because they're so dependent on themselves, their money and their stuff. And why do I keep saying 'they' like I'm not rich?  If you don't think you're rich, try visiting and then think about whether your approach to Jesus is more like the children or the rich man!

Mark blog