Eternal Life: no beginning and no end! Mark 10:17-31

The anonymous gospel-storyteller that we call Mark weaves together a story that reveals the many ways in which we are possessed by all that we possess. The gospel-storyteller begins simply and directly: “As Jesus was setting out on a journey, someone came running up.” “Someone” anyone, everyone really. You or I, we come running up to Jesus and we ask:  “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Such a question? Eternal life? Such a loaded phrase. Eternal life? Eternal – that which has no beginning and no end. Timeless, boundaryless, limitless, infinite. Life beyond the beyond and beyond that also. Eternal life is so much more than a prize to be achieved when life in the here and now ends. Eternal life is life that has always been and always will be; life that stretches back beyond our birth into this world, stretches back beyond the beginning of time, for eternal life has no beginning. Eternal life that has no end, that is not bound by time, life that includes our life right here, right now, and continues on beyond our life here and now, eternal life is a quality beyond our minds ability to comprehend which moves us into the realm of MYSTERY.

Someone, anyone, everyone, you and I, we run up to Jesus and we ask: “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” We want this quality, this eternity, this limitless life, this MYSTERY that is beyond our comprehension, beyond the beyond and beyond that also. Somehow, we sense this eternal life, this MYSTERY, this limitless, boundaryless, infinite, timeless quality in Jesus and we want a piece of what Jesus has. If that means keeping ancient laws, well sign us up, we’ll have a go.  No killing. No committing adultery. No stealing. No bearing false witness. No defrauding. Honour our mother and father. Sure, sign us up, what’s a few rules compared to eternal life, we’ll give it a go.

Jesus looks at this someone, this anyone, this everyone, this you and I, Jesus looks at us with love and says, “There is one thing more that you must do. Go and sell what you have and give it to those in need; you will then have treasure in heaven.  After that, come and follow me.”

At these words, the inquirer, this someone, this anyone, this you, and this me, we, who own so much property, we become crestfallen and we walk away sadly. Jesus looks around and says, “How hard it is for the rich people to enter the kin-dom of God! My children, how hard it is to enter the realm of God!  It is easier for a camel to pass through the Needle’s Eye gate than for a rich person to enter the kin-dom of God!” Those of us who can still hear Jesus words ringing in our ears, we grumble to one another,“Then who can be saved?” Jesus looks at us and says, “For mortals it is impossible—but not for God. With all God all things are possible.”        

What must I do to inherit eternal life? Timeless, boundaryless, limitless, infinite life. Life beyond the beyond and beyond that also. We may not be able to adequately describe eternal life, but most of us know it when we see it. We see this eternal quality in those who are able to live fully, love extravagantly and be all that they are created to be. We see the absence of this eternal quality in people who are obsessed by their possessions; so caught up in what they have and what they want to have that they seem alienated from life itself.

We see the absence of this eternal quality in those who struggle to obtain more and more stuff. Sadly, we see the absence of this eternal quality in those who must struggle to have even the basics of life; those who have become alienated from life because the day to day grind of our modern quest to achieve more and more.

We may not be able to adequately describe this eternal quality, but we sure know it when we see it, or encounter it in those who are not possessed by their possessions, who are not caught up in the pressure to acquire more and more stuff, or status. People saw this eternal quality in the life of Jesus of Nazareth, who lived so fully and loved so extravagantly that those who encountered him could see this eternal quality, this aliveness in the way that he lived. Jesus was always calling people to wake up to this eternal quality that he sometimes called abundant life. Jesus insisted that he came that we might have life and live it abundantly. The abundance that Jesus called his followers to wake up to empowered a way of life that was full; a way of life that embodies the LOVE that is the source of all life. This eternal abundant life that embodies the LOVE that is the source of all life doesn’t come easily for those of us who have so very much.

Jesus warned, “How hard it is for the rich people to enter the kin-dom of God!” …The kin-dom, the realm of God, the embodiment of the LOVE that is God is not easy for those of us who have so much, so much wealth, so much stuff, so many possessions. Jesus looks at rich people like us with love and says, “My children, how hard it is to enter the realm of God!  It is easier for a camel to pass through the Needle’s Eye gate than for a rich person to enter the kin-dom of God!”

The realm of God, the embodiment of the LOVE that is the source of all life, this eternal, abundant life is not easy for those of us who are possessed by our possessions. Jesus lovingly encouraged those of us who are possessed to “sell what we have and give it to those who are in need.” How can we help but be “crestfallen”? For we are possessed, and our possession makes this eternal, abundant life seem like just one more possession that we want to acquire. We have become so possessed, so driven by our hunger for more that we cannot see what it is that Jesus is suggesting. Obsessed by our desire to acquire eternal life, we cannot see the obvious. Life is like that when you are possessed with acquiring more and more, we can’t see beyond the objects of our desire, we become obsessed with grabbing it all for ourselves and we can’t see what is right there in front of us. Caught up in our desire to consume, we can’t let go of the very stuff that is alienating us from the eternal abundant life that is already ours. We can’t seem to let go long enough to see what ought to be obvious – for eternal life is already ours, right here and right now. By definition, eternal life, has always been ours and will always be ours. Eternal – that which has no beginning and no end. Timeless, boundaryless, limitless, infinite. Life beyond the beyond and beyond that also.

Eternal life is so much more than a prize to be achieved when life in the here and now ends. Eternal life is life that has always been and always will be. Life that stretches back beyond our birth into this world, stretches back beyond the beginning of time, for eternal life has no beginning. Eternal life that has no end, that is not bound by time, life that includes our life right here, right now, and continues on beyond our life here and now. Eternal life is a quality beyond our minds ability to comprehend which moves us into the realm of MYSTERY; the MYSTERY that lies at the very heart of reality, the MYSTERY that is, was, and evermore shall be the LOVE that we call God. Jesus looks at those of us who desire eternal life with LOVE and encourages us to sacrifice all that we have so that we might live.

The good news, dear friends, is that we need not walk away crestfallen. Sacrifice is possible. Sacrifice, the very word itself means “to make sacred”. Our stuff, our possessions can be made sacred when they are put into the service of LOVE. Letting go of the madness that possesses us to seek more and more simply for the sake of having more and more is the way that Jesus taught. It is a way of being in the world that sacrifices, makes sacred, the very stuff that is keeping us from seeing what is already ours. It is a way of being in the world that sacrifices, makes sacred, frees us to be all that we are created to be. In letting go, we open our hands, opens our hearts and minds to the LOVE that IS this MYSTERY that we call God. In letting go, we free ourselves from all the possessions that possess us, we sacrifice, we make sacred the stuff that holds us captive to the kind of life that is held captive to an endless cycle of violence that threatens the very existence of Creation. In the letting go, in the sacrifice, in the making holy the things that we possess we are set free to be all that we are created to be, free to live the abundant life, the eternal life that is already ours.

Jesus doesn’t promise that the sacrifice will be easy. In fact, Jesus warns us that, “For mortals it is impossible.” “—but not for God. With God all things are possible.”

And what is God? Jesus insists that God is LOVE. With LOVE all things are possible.

In Jesus we see a way of life that sacrifices, makes sacred, the letting go of things so that we can see what is already ours: the gift of life that is eternal, abundant, limitless, boundaryless, infinite, beyond, the beyond and beyond that also. Life lived fully, by the power of the LOVE that is the MYSTERY that we call God. LOVE is the way, the way beyond our captivity to the stuff that possesses us, LOVE is the way to abundant life for all.

Let it be so among us, for LOVE is the way, now and forever and ever, to life without end. Amen.

 

2 thoughts on “Eternal Life: no beginning and no end! Mark 10:17-31

  1. Pingback: Eternal Life: No Beginning and No End! – Mark 10:17-31 | Holy Cross Lutheran Church

  2. Excellent!
    Thank you Pastor Dawn Hutchings for this timely reflection that speaks to all of us in Today’s world.

    Pastor Jon Fogleman

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