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Mark 10:22

ESV Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.
NIV At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.
NASB But he was deeply dismayed by these words, and he went away grieving; for he was one who owned much property.
CSB But he was dismayed by this demand, and he went away grieving, because he had many possessions.
NLT At this the man’s face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions.
KJV And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions.
NKJV But he was sad at this word, and went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.

What does Mark 10:22 mean?

The rich young man's tale is a story about someone who wants to follow God on their own terms. The man has obeyed the letter of the law his entire adult life and reached an enviable position of worldly success. There's nothing wrong with that. Where he finds difficulty is letting go of his worldly treasure and treasuring God fully. He is the epitome of one of the "seeds" of Jesus' earlier parable: one choked by the cares of the world (Mark 4:19).

It is not a sin to have money. It is a sin to love money more than God. As Paul says, the "love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith" (1 Timothy 6:10). Jesus says, "No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money" (Matthew 6:24). Solomon, the richest king in Israel's history, notes the futility of loving wealth: "He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves wealth with his income; this also is vanity" (Ecclesiastes 5:10).

Ancient culture did not have the same appreciation for the dangers of loving money. In the Mosaic covenant, God promised Israel that if the people obeyed and worshiped Him, He would bless them with fertility, livestock, crops, success over their enemies, and wealth (Deuteronomy 28:1–14). The Israelites grew to believe that if any person was rich, it was because they obeyed God—and those who were poor deserved their fate. This is why when Satan took away Job's wealth, his friends tried to convince him to repent of his sins (Job 8). Even the Pharisees, the religious leaders who claimed to embody holiness, were known for their love of money (Luke 16:14).

Jesus is not saying that if the rich young man gives away all his possessions, he will have thus earned salvation. Rather, He is making a point: the man is not actually willing to follow God "at any cost." As soon as it comes to giving up his wealth, his interest fades. This, Jesus points out, is not an unusual difficulty for the rich (Mark 10:23). It is, however, proof that even the best of us, at some point, want to hold something back from God. Jesus is illustrating that there is no way we can be good enough or sacrifice enough to earn anything from God. As unbelievers, there will always be something we value more than God, and so we must rely on His mercy to come to saving faith.

Like the rich young man, Paul had followed the law faithfully (Philippians 3:6). After Paul met Jesus, however, he grew to understand that his own righteousness was worth nothing. Only the righteousness imbued by Jesus' sacrifice can earn eternal life. Once Paul understood that, he considered his worldly things rubbish (Philippians 3:7–11). Eternal life is grace alone, through faith (Ephesians 2:8–9).
What is the Gospel?
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