March 24 – Mark 10:17-22


Main Focus: Following Jesus demands surrendering ourselves, including whatever is most precious to us.

On this Palm Sunday we’ll be looking at how the invitation to follow Jesus demands our very lives, anticipating how, in the coming week, we’ll celebrate how Jesus surrendered his own life to extend this invitation. In discussion we’ll look both at Mark 10:17-22 (a parallel passage for Matthew 19:16-22) and at John 19:38-42 to see a contrast between the rich young ruler and two more rich men. Ultimately our focus lines up with Mark 8:34-35, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.”

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First, we’ll turn to Mark 10:17-22, which we’re using in place of the passage from the sermon (the Mark passage includes a line about Jesus’s love for the man that will contribute to our discussion). We’ll take note of Jesus’s interaction with the rich young man, noticing how Jesus deals with the man before laying his finger on the one thing he’s unwilling to give up; while Jesus offers eternal treasure, the man can’t seem to give up his earthly treasure in exchange.

As an aside, at face value the passage can seem transactional—give away a bunch of money and you’ll get into heaven. But this ignores the unique way Jesus does this sort of thing with different people elsewhere in the Gospels. In other encounters Jesus laid his finger on things like comfort and security (Matt 8:19-20), familial responsibilities (Matt 8:21-22), sex and shame (John 4:16-18), and ethnocentrism (Luke 4:24-30). Jesus’s focus isn’t solely on money but on whatever keeps us from surrendering to him completely. In discussion we’ll get to our own unique hold-ups and how we can turn those over to Jesus.

But first, using that main characteristic of the rich young ruler, we’ll turn to John 19:38-42 to see how wealth can be used in worship of Jesus rather than holding us back from it. This gives us an idea for how we can turn our hold-ups over to Jesus (as in the second-to-last question). Here we see two men, Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, who come after Jesus’s death to take care of his body.

First, they use their influence to get Jesus’s body from Pilate before going to enormous expense to care for their Lord’s body. Joseph of Arimathea was a rich man (Matt 27:57) who already had his own stone tomb carved out of the mountain for him. Read: this was super pricey; most common people got a space on a tomb shelf for a while, after which their bones were moved into a box called an ossuary. Few people had their own tomb. Joseph gave this over to honor Jesus’s body, along with Nicodemus’s contribution of 75 pounds worth of spices and ointments to prepare Jesus’s body for burial—no small gift in its own right.

Again, the focus here is on surrender. We don’t know much about Joseph of Arimathea’s background, but we do know Nicodemus was the pharisee who came to Jesus back in John 3:1-15 asking Jesus about eternal life in the middle of the night. His noncommittal, secretive response to Jesus had turned into a willingness, even with the highly public events that surrounded Jesus’s execution, to honor Jesus with his devotion.

All of this gives us plenty of fodder for discussion: what does it look like for us to truly surrender our lives to Jesus? What keeps us back from our devotion to him, and what might it take for us to give our whole selves—desires, dreams, and doubts included—over to him? How can we turn our hold-ups into means for honoring Jesus?

We’ll close by thinking ahead towards Easter and what we hope to gain out of our Easter celebrations. Of course, egg hunts and time with family and friends are a gift, but particularly we have in mind how celebrating Jesus’s death and resurrection can nourish our faith in him. This is a great spot in discussion to talk about our Love Ones, folks we’ve invited along to celebrate Easter, those we hope hear the gospel message and similarly surrender themselves to Jesus. This can also be a spot to encourage one another to extend these sorts of invitations, and to pray that God would empower our witness to Jesus’s worthiness and would work in and through us to bring others to himself.

Discussion questions

– Could someone read Mark 10:17-22 for us?

– What stood out to you from the passage?

– How does Jesus deal with the man here?

– Could someone read John 19:38-42 for us?

– In what ways do these two men contrast with the man from Mark 10?

– How can these two passages help you think about the things that keep you from following Jesus?

– What does it look like for you to truly surrender those things to Jesus?

– This coming Sunday is Easter— what do you hope to gain out of celebrating Easter this year? Close by praying for our Love Ones and doubters and seekers who come to Easter service.