Mark 10:17-31 Exploring the Passage

Below are some preliminary questions to assist in the study of this passage. For a comprehensive study of the passage, download the Study Guide (PDF download).

1. How does Scripture describe the man who approached the Lord Jesus? Note Mark 10:17, Matthew 19:22 and Luke 18:18 (printed below).

As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him, and fell on his knees before him, and asked him, Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life? (Mark 10:17)

When the young man heard this (i.e.; Jesus’ reply to his question concerning eternal life), he went away sad, because he had great wealth. (Matthew 19:22)

A certain ruler asked him, Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life? (Luke 18:18)

This young man was desperate to know the way to eternal life: this is seen from the fact that he ran up to Jesus and reverently kneeled before Him (Mark 10:17). He was a man who had great wealth (Mark 10:22). According to Matthew 19:22, he was a young man. According to Luke 18:18, he had a prestigious position, he was a ruler.

2. How does this man address Jesus? See Mark 10:17 (printed above under question #1) What does this tell us about whom he thought Jesus was?

The man addresses Jesus as “Good Teacher.” This shows that the man had great respect for Jesus as a man who could show him the way to God, but he did not recognize that Jesus is the Son of God who demands our total allegiance and complete commitment.

3. When Jesus quotes the Ten Commandments to this man (see Mark 10:19 printed below), what commandments does He omit?

You know the commandments, Do not kill, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother. (Mark 10:19)

Jesus does not mention the first commandments, dealing with worship and devotion to the Lord our God, or the tenth commandment, dealing with covetousness.

4. What does Jesus require this man to do (see Mark 10:21 printed below)? Why do you think Jesus makes this demand?

Looking at him, Jesus loved him and said to him, You lack one thing. Go; sell whatever you have and give the proceeds to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me. (Mark 10:21)

Jesus requires this man to sell all his possessions because they had become the supreme object of love and trust in his life, taking the place of God. First and foremost, we are to love the Lord our God and put our trust in Him (cp. Matthew 22:37-38).

5. How do Jesus’ words addressed to this man apply to us?

Although we are not required to sell all our possessions in order to become a Christian, we are required to hold our possessions in an “open hand,” being willing to allow the Lord Jesus to take from us whatever He desires. Note Luke 14:33, “Any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.” To renounce means to relinquish claim to, to give up the rights of possession.