17. As Jesus went out into the street, a young man came running up to Him, greeted Him reverently, and asked, "Good Teacher, what must I do to experience the fullness of eternal life?"
18. Jesus answered him, "First of all...why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone.
19. And secondly, you already know the commandments...'Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, do not defraud, honor your father and mother, etc.'"
20. "Yes, Teacher," he responded, "I do know the commandments, and I have devoutly kept all of them to the letter since I was a boy."
21. Jesus looked at him...looked beyond his religious pretentiousness and misguided concepts of discipleship...and just very simply loved him. "All right...if you're really that serious about inheriting the Kingdom...about walking in the fullness of eternal life...then do this one thing...go, sell everything you have and give all the profits and proceeds to the poor, and you will have treasure in the heavenly realm. Then come, and follow Me!"
22. At this specific word the young man's face fell. Unable to recognize the possibility that Jesus was uniquely offering him, he went away very sad because he had great wealth, and his great wealth had him.
23. Then Jesus looked around and said to His disciples, "You know, for some reason it is really difficult for the very rich to enter into the Kingdom-life."
24. The disciples were amazed at his words, because of the illusions that they themselves held concerning the supposed invincibility of the rich. But Jesus said again, "Children, what great discipline is required to enter the lifestyle of the Kingdom of God!
25. It is easier for a camel to go through the gate in Jerusalem called the eye of the needle, through which it cannot pass unless it stoops first, and has all its baggage removed. After dark, when the main gates are shut, travellers or merchants have to use this smaller gate, through which the camel can only enter, unencumbered, and crawling on its knees."
26. The disciples were even more amazed at these words. This scenario had unearthed some very wrong ideas that they obviously had held...it revealed that they considered the very rich to be in another class, altogether, and not necessarily in need of the same saving grace as the poor to whom they regularly ministered. They said to each other, "Well, if the rich have this much trouble connecting with the Kingdom, who then can be saved?"
27. Jesus looked at them and said, "With man...or, rather, from a merely human perspective, this is, indeed, impossible...but not with God...when the rich bow their knees to Kingdom authority, they are equally blessed with the poor...and the bottom line is that, regardless of how much wealth someone has or doesn't have, when it comes to entering the Kingdom, all things are possible with God!"
28. Peter said to him, "Well, none of this really even applies to us, anyway, because we have left everything to follow you!"
29."Look, here's the truth about that," Jesus replied, "no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for Me and the Gospel,
30. will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age...homes... brothers...sisters...mothers...children...fields...
and, yes, with them, persecutions. The Kingdom-life requires that you rethink your current definitions of wealth and poverty...all these things you will abundantly receive now...as the young man who left would have received, had he received the word I gave him...and, in the age to come...in the era of manifestation...a full revelation of all that the realization of eternal life has to offer!
31. But many who in this culture and world-system seem to be first will be last, and many who now appear to be last will be first."
32. After this they were on the way going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking ahead of them with a distinct sense of purpose and direction in His stride. At this point they were all beginning to second-guess their commitment to follow Him at any cost. Some of the things that He had been saying had left them bewildered and perplexed, and those who were still following were becoming more and more unsettled and afraid over what was potentially on the horizon for them all. So He took the Twelve aside again, and began to tell them exactly what was about to happen to Him.
33. He said, "Look...I don't want anything that is about to happen to take you by surprise, so here is the full plan...we are going up to Jerusalem, and there the Son of Man will be turned over to the religious leaders and the Scribes...and they will condemn and sentence Him to death, and turn Him over to the Roman government.
34. And they will mock Him, spit on Him, whip Him and put Him to death. But after three days He will rise again from the grave."
35. The disciples had no response to these startling and very specific words, but James and John, the sons of Zebedee, later approached Him and said to Him, "Teacher, we desire You to do for us whatever we ask of You."
36. And He replied to them, "Well...what is it that you desire Me to do for you?
37. And they said to Him, "We want you to promise us that we may sit, one at Your right hand and one at Your left hand, in Your glory...when Your majesty and splendor are finally revealed."
38. But Jesus said to them, "You boys don't even know what you are asking. Do you honestly think that you are able to drink the cup that I drink, or be baptized with the baptism of affliction with which I am about to be baptized?"
39. And they immediately replied to Him, "Without a doubt we are able!" And Jesus told them, "All right...the cup that I drink you will drink, and you will be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized...
40. But to sit at My right hand or at My left hand is not Mine to decide...as the Son of Man, I am completely submitted to a Higher authority...but that honor will be given to those for whom it is divinely ordained and prepared."
41. When the other ten disciples got wind of this exchange, they began to be resentful and even furious with James and John.
42. But Jesus called them all together to Himself to settle things down, saying to them, "You've all seen how ego-centric rulers throw their weight around...you experienced, firsthand, how when people get a little authority they easily become power-drunk.
43. Well, it can't be that way with any of you...not if you're going to live the Kingdom-life...in this new world order, whoever desires to be great among you must become your servant,
44. And whoever desires to be most important...whoever wants to be first in rank among you...must be willing to act like the slave of all when it comes to fulfilling the law of love.
45. For even the Son of Man did not come to have service rendered to Him...on the contrary, He came for no other purpose than to serve...to ultimately give His life as a ransom for, or rather instead of, many.