This text is made up of two parts. The first is the story of the rich man who is unable to accept Jesus’ invitation to discipleship (10,17-22) and the second part contains the sayings of Jesus on the danger of riches (10,23-27).
The rich man addresses Jesus as “Good teacher” and asks what he must do to inherit eternal life. Jesus shifts the focus from himself and makes God the focus. In Mark, Jesus cites six of the commandments of the Decalogue (Ex 20,12-17; Deut 5,16-21). The response of the rich man is to affirm that he has followed all of these. Only in Mark does Jesus look at the man and love him. This love results in the issuance of an invitation: the invitation to follow Jesus. The invitation is to forego even the privilege of alms giving for the sake of sharing Jesus’ life style by depending on god while at the same time proclaiming his kingdom. The rich man is devoted to God’s word, but cannot bring himself to accept the invitation. His riches become an obstacle to his following.
After his departure, Jesus turns to the disciples to instruct them on the danger of riches. Jesus uses a metaphor of a camel trying to pass through the eye of a needle. Even this impossible as it might be to imagine is possible and easier than for a rich person to enter the kingdom. The amazement of the disciples while understandable also brings out powerfully the obstacle that riches can pose to seeing rightly.
We are living in a world, which keeps calling us to possess more and more. We are bombarded from every side with advertisements inviting us to be owners of land, property, houses, and electronic and other goods. While we must use things and plan properly for own future and the future of our children, we need to be careful that we do not become so obsessed with the future that we forget to live in the present.