Hello everybody, and welcome in to episode Twelve of the Bible 2021 podcast.  We are reading Mark 1o today, and our focus is on the difficulties of wealth and privilege.  Thank you for joining us for Bible 2021! We are a daily podcast, where we will dig into ten minutes of truth from the Word of God by reading one Bible chapter a day. Welcome to new listeners from New South Wales, Australia, Lagos, Nigeria, Assam, India, Houston, Texas, Dallas, Texas, Terre Haute, Indiana and Anchorage, Alaska. Thanks for listening! Our focus this year is on DAILY Bible reading, so you can jump in at any time and join with us. We want to invite as many people as possible to join us in daily Bible reading, so help spread the word and share the podcast Don’t forget about our new web-page, Bible2021.com – contact page, show notes, transcript and more – Click here for our reading plan! 

Today we see another instance of Jesus getting angry, and the reason is a bit surprising – this time, He is angry at His own disciples, because they are forbidding parents from bringing their children to be touched by Jesus. How does Jesus manage His anger – does He blast His disciples? Side-tweet them on Twitter? Talk about them behind their backs? No – He simply TEACHES them, and helps them understand the value of children, and the value of approaching the Kingdom of God with a child-like faith.

Today’s focus is on the dangers of wealth and privilege…yes, you heard me right.Most people consider privilege to be a good thing, in many senses…or at least, a remarkable advantage. Interestingly, the Bible does NOT treat wealth as an advantage in spiritual terms, but rather as a potential hindrance and a strong temptation. That is not at all to say that it is a sin to be rich – indeed, material blessing CAN be a sign of God’s blessing. For instance, notice the words of Abraham’s servant in Genesis 24:35, “The Lord has greatly blessed my master, and he has become rich. He has given him flocks and herds, silver and gold….” That said, those that are rich don’t have every advantage in the world…indeed, the most important thing in all of eternity is actually made more difficult to attain, if you are rich…so it is possible to see that having great wealth can put you at an eternal disadvantage. What could I possibly mean by that? Let’s read our passage and find out!

Hear it again, “24 The disciples were astonished at his words. Again Jesus said to them, “Children,how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” I take from this that it is HARDER for rich people to be saved…which would seem, on the surface, to be a terrible disadvantage. By the way, this parable/illustration about the camel and the eye of the needle? It means exactly what it sounds like – there was no ‘eye of the needle’ gate in Jerusalem that camels had to stoop to go though. It means it is hard for rich people to be saved. Hard, but not impossible, of course, because Jesus tells His disciples here that all things are possible for God, and indeed, there were several wealthy followers of Jesus in the early church, including Nicodemus, Joseph of Arimathea and probably Barnabas, the disciple of encouragement. On this interesting dynamic – the spiritual difficulty of wealth and privilege, C.S. Lewis wrote, “But we’re told that they are: and what seem to us the easiest conditions may really be the hardest (‘How hardly shall they that have riches’ etc.)

C. S. Lewis, The Collected Letters of C. S. Lewis, ed. Walter Hooper, vol. 2 (New York: HarperCollins e-books; HarperSanFrancisco, 2004–2007), 983.

So – is it bad to be rich? I guess my answer would be that it can actually be spiritually hard to be rich in many ways, but, as mentioned earlier, the Bible often shows that material blessing can often be a blessing from God. How should a rich person deal with material blessing in a way that is spiritually prosperous? By following Jesus and obeying 1 Timothy 6: “17 Instruct those who are rich in the present age not to be arrogant or to set their hope on the uncertainty of wealth, but on God, who richly provides us with all things to enjoy. 18 Instruct them to do what is good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and willing to share, 19 storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of what is truly life.”

Through this lens, we can see that a generous and obedient person of wealth is a great benefit to the Kingdom of God and will store up treasure in Heaven.

End of the Show: Bible memory verse for January: Mark 1:15 15 “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”

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