Summary: It’s a difficult passage to read and to preach, this story of a rich man’s’ encounter with Jesus. Consistent with much of Mark’s portrait of discipleship, it speaks about extraordinary self-giving. At the same time, it is an unusual text, with Jesus making discipleship look close to impossible. To preach a passage like this, a preacher does well to consider their role and the sermon’s goals. As for the role, a preacher should approach this text as a co-traveler alongside the congregation. As for the sermon’s goals, it’s best to find creative ways to translate the passage’s discussion of radical solidarity with the poor into contemporary terms. That is not to diminish the passage’s demands; it is to help us think about how much we need each other to walk the road of discipleship together.
I wrote this article for those preparing to preach or hear sermons on Mark 10:17-31. It was originally a contribution to the “Dear Working Preacher” series. Read the full article at Working Preacher.