In my last post, The Possible Impossibility of Salvation, I began discussing the passage of Mark 10:17-31 and the impossibility of entering into the kingdom of God for those who do not put God first. Jesus demands of us that we honor the first commandment (Ex 20:3; Deut 5:7)* which means getting rid of whatever god we place before the Lord and then following Jesus into the kingdom. For those who choose otherwise, the possibility of entering into the kingdom of God is compared to a camel trying to go through the eye of a needle. In other words, for those who choose another god over the Lord, salvation is practically impossible.
This caused some panic among the disciples of Jesus and prompted them to ask Jesus just who then could be saved (v. 26). That tells us just how clearly they understood the point Jesus was making. Jesus’ well known reply is that “all things are possible with God” (v. 27). This prompts Peter to remind Jesus that he and the other disciples have already met Jesus’ demand, leaving everything behind to follow Jesus. In response, Jesus reassures his disciples that they will receive a hundred times what they have left behind and that includes eternal life.
I believe that dialogue between Jesus and his disciples is pretty important. It’s also necessary to keep this exchange within its context. Jesus has already spoke of his death and resurrection twice (Mk 8:31-32; 9:31) and immediately following this dialogue, Jesus will speak about it again (Mk 10:33-34). Thus Jesus, knowing the suffering that lies ahead, also firmly believes he will be vindicated through resurrection by his Father in heaven. Jesus firmly believes that his suffering and vindication will bring about the age to come of eternal life. And therein lies the possibility for salvation that is absolutely possible for God to grant.
So let’s go back to discipleship for a moment and the demand that Jesus makes. Jesus knows what he is asking by demanding that all other gods be forsaken. It is about faith. Whether it be our wealth, career, family, politics, etc…, they become gods (idols) when we depend on them for our security in life. Jesus is demanding that we render our trust/faith to the Living God and that’s a risky proposition. To live by faith in the Living God, we must follow Jesus and following Jesus always calls us to the way of the cross. It requires us to believe in Jesus, to believe that Jesus is indeed the Messiah (Mk 1:1) through whom we will enter the kingdom of God with. It requires us to to believe that the possibility of salvation is indeed possible with Jesus. The question is, do we have that kind of faith?
May we have the eyes and ears to see and hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ and have the faith to follow Jesus to the cross and beyond!
* For the connection to the first commandment of the Decalogue, see N. T. Wright, Jesus and the Victory of God, Christian Origins and the Question of God, vol. 2 (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1996), 301-302.