As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud, honor your father and mother.'” “Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.” Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth. Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!” The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again, “Children, 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 the rich to enter the kingdom of God.” The disciples were even more amazed, and said to each other, “Who then can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “With human beings this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.”
—Mark 10:17-27 (TNIV)
As we head toward Holy Week, this passage bears special attention because Jesus turns conventional Jewish wisdom on its head. He tells his disciples that it is impossible for the rich to enter the kingdom of God and they are astonished because in saying this, Jesus is refuting the mistaken notion that the rich are rich because they have led blameless lives and are now enjoying God’s blessing, of which wealth was a part.
Not so, says our Lord. It is impossible for humans to save themselves, despite what conventional wisdom says. Only God can save us and that is precisely the point of the cross.
Until you can fully grasp this, it will be virtually impossible for you to observe a holy Lent because you are still laboring under the delusion of self-help when it comes to the issue of salvation and eternal life. God became human and died for us to make it possible for us to live with him forever. None of us can save ourselves by our own personal merit or works, and none of our blessings is indicative of our goodness or favorable standing in God’s sight. Any blessings we have are due to God’s mercy and grace to us, not our own merit. Any hope we have of living forever with God is due to God’s sheer grace and mercy demonstrated to us on the cross, not our own merit.
Think on these things as Holy Week draws near, especially if any of this offends you. If it does, it is surely a sign that your pride has been wounded.