The interaction between Jesus and his disciples always makes me laugh. For the most part, these 12 guys just don’t get it. They don’t get what Jesus is doing, yet they continue to follow along. In Mark’s telling of the rich young man we see, yet again, an odd response from the 12.
Jesus has just watched an eager young man walk away from him saddened because the demands Jesus made were too much. Dismayed himself, Jesus responds, I’d like to think minus the exclamation points, “how hard it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God” and again “how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God. It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”
Now stop and think what some reactions might be. “Why is it so hard for the rich?” “This guy just liked his stuff too much, he’s not indicative of all rich people.” You know, something specific to the situation at hand. But no, not the disciples, “Then who can be saved?” they ask greatly astounded. “Holy crap! If the rich aren’t gettin’ in, ain’t nobody gettin’ in.”
What is it about these guys that allows for non sequiters every time they speak? I don’t know about you, but it makes me feel pretty good. The 12 who followed Jesus as disciples. Those who were very closest to him (replacing even his own family) continually miss the point. They just can’t get it right. And what does Jesus do? He loves them. He continues to try and teach them. He gives them authority to heal and cast out demons. He keeps at them.
2000 years later it looks like Jesus’ hard work with those guys really paid off. Yet the tradition of missing the point and asking the wrong question is one that continues throughout history. I wonder if that’s why God decided to give us the gift of the Holy Spirit? Maybe in his relationships while on earth, God realized just how clueless we are and decided we needed some help – someone to love us, to teach us, to give us authority.
Either way, I’m grateful for this tenacious God who continuously seeks me out no matter how often I miss the point.