Mark 10:17-31

Commentary Excerpt by Tom Boomershine

This is a call story like the stories of Simon and Andrew and James and John at the beginning of the Gospel. This is a call story in which the disciple who is called says no and doesn't follow Jesus. Jesus functions as a spiritual director, as one who is helping this man and his disciples to discern their vocation and who is reflecting on that.

The spirit of the man coming up and falling at Jesus' feet, or kneeling before him, is one of exaggeration. He is very strong in his subjugation to Jesus and in throwing himself at Jesus' feet to ask the question. It is overdone. So also is his flattery: "Good teacher."Jesus' response, therefore, is first of all to get things down to a more sober human level:"Why do you call me good? No one is good but God." The spirit of Jesus' response is,"Let's just cool it a little bit so that we can explore your real question."

Then Jesus says, "You know the commandments." These presumably are the things you have to do in order to inherit eternal life. The man's recital of the commandments is probably a response of relief and joy. He is saying, in effect, "I've done all of these! Does that mean I'm in? Does that mean that I can inherit eternal life?" Jesus' response and its tone is indicated clearly by Mark. This is one of those instances where you know what the spirit of Jesus' response is because Mark explicitly states it: "He loved him." Thus, all of the words that Jesus then speaks to him—about leaving everything, selling everything and giving to the poor, becoming a follower—are spoken out of love. What's important in the way you tell this is to make these loving words.

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