“Billy” – Lenten Reflection for March 25 by Matt Laney
“A man knelt before Jesus, and asked, ‘Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ Jesus said to him, ‘Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; You shall not defraud; Honor your father and mother.’ He said to him, ‘Teacher, I have kept all these since my youth . . . .’” Mark 10:17-20
Mark doesn’t name the guy so let’s call him “Billy” because he’s a combination of Bill Gates and Billy Graham. He has loads of money and seems to be leading a morally impeccable life.
Billy asks Jesus, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” Billy’s not sure what needs to be done to earn eternal life but whatever it is, he’s pretty sure it’s up to him. That means Billy does not yet understand the Gospel. He thinks God grants eternal life to people who do good things. In fact God grants eternal life not because we are good, but because God is good.
So Jesus asks Billy to surrender the indicators that he is a deserving person due to being a prosperous and virtuous person: “Go, sell what you own, give the money to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come and follow me.” Billy is shocked and wanders away, assuming eternal life is way out of his price range . . . which, of course, it is.
You can’t buy or earn your way into the kingdom, but you can show you are a child of the king by walking with him. The purpose of life is not achievement and ownership but relinquishment and followership, proving once again that the best things in this life (and in the next) are free.
Lord, just for today, or even for the next hour, let me drop everything and follow you.
United Church of Christ Stillspeaking Devotional Published by Pilgrim Press. Shared with permission of the publisher.