Tuesday, October 6, 2015
Mark 10:16-31 (RCL for Oct 11, 2015)
Summary: "Clouded up" -- That is literally the words used to describe the rich young man's reaction to Jesus. Jesus loves the man, but the man's love of his possessions obscure his vision so greatly, he cannot even embrace the love of God! We may not be able to buy our way into heaven but today's passage suggests we can buy our way out of heaven!
Some words worth considering:
αποστερεω ("defraud"; 10:19) The NET Bible suggests Jesus inserts this because of the OT's injunctions about this, for example, Deut 24:14. I would maintain that the word defraud is not accidental, but a great insight into the text. Jesus adds this commandment because he knows the rich young man is guilty of it -- the 11th commandment! As my internship pastor spoke about this passage -- what is the commandment that finally trips you or me up?? I don't murder...but what finally brings me to my knees in confession?
αγαπαω ("love"; 10.21) This word means real, genuine, nearly, if not truly, divine love. This man is the first one whom Jesus loves in the whole Gospel of Mark! How sad then that the man cannot love Jesus back nor follow him!
κτημα ("possessions"; 10:22) Our American context is very different than ancient Greece, where a very small number owned most things. Yes, yes, the rich grow richer, but the average American still has enough possessions and toys at their disposal to last them for years. We can make this passage about demonizing the truly wealthy, or realize the nature of our own possessions that cloud our own vision.
στυγναζω ("sad" or "cloud up"; 10.23): The word for "sad" here is a less common Greek word, but it means gloomy, or clouded over, like the sky. The man's love of possessions cloud up his vision.
Some grammar tid-bits worth considering:
The subjunctive mood, which Greek uses to indicate various hypothetical situations, is difficult to translate. In 10.17 we find the filled-with-subjunctive phrase "What must I do to inherit eternal life?" The Greek does not use the word "must" but simply uses the subjunctive mood. Luther's German translation, "What should I do" is probably a better understanding of what is meant here.
The imperfect tense suggests repeated action. In 10.17 The rich young man does not "ask" but in fact "asks," repeatedly -- the imperfect tense is used. He really wants to know!
Future as perfect tense?
In 10.30, Jesus talks about the age "that is coming." It is not "the age that came" or the "age that will come" or even "the age to come" but "the age that is coming." Greek, like English, can use the present to suggest an indeterminate future. "Coming" can mean "on the way" or "coming soon." There is an ambiguity. So the question is, does the eternal life age arrive after we die or while we live? It seems that Jesus is referring to a pre-natural death event...but perhaps one that requires our spiritual death and resurrection.