Matthew 19-20; Mark 10; Luke 18: “What Lack I Yet?” May 8-14

Christ and the Rich Young Ruler (detail) by Heinrich Hoffman (1889)

To be a disciple is to pursue a discipline, or in other words to intentionally do things differently than you would do naturally. So it’s not surprising that a number of Jesus’ teachings challenge our default assumptions. He invites us to think non-intuitively at times and to act accordingly. For example:

Here are a few other examples from this week’s reading:

1. “One thing thou lackest”

When the rich young ruler approached Jesus asking what he must do to inherit eternal life, he must have thought he was almost there. He affirmed that he had kept the commandments all his life, and then asked, “What lack I yet?” (Matthew 19:20). Although he had successfully acquired many possessions, he sensed that he needed to acquire something more.

Jesus’ response challenged this assumption: “One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor…” (Mark 10:21; see also Matthew 19:21, Luke 18:22). He didn’t need more; he needed less. His beloved possessions were actually blocking his progress, and he needed to discard them to create space for him to move toward his ultimate goal.

Jesus’ subsequent observation—”How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!”—is relevant to all of us. It is in our nature to cling to temporal things. The more we own, the harder it may be for us to let them go.

Here are some other lessons from this exchange, along with relevant blog posts:

2. “As a little child”

We place a high value on maturity. “When I became a man,” said Paul, “I put away childish things” (1 Corinthians 13:11).

Yet when Jesus’ disciples tried to prevent people from bringing their children to Him, He turned the tables on them: “Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein,” He said (Mark 10:15, Luke 18:17).

The same principle appears multiple times in the Book of Mormon. An angel taught King Benjamin, “The natural man is an enemy to God…and will be, forever and ever, unless he…becometh as a child” (Mosiah 3:19). Mormon instructed his son, Moroni, “Teach parents that they must repent and be baptized, and humble themselves as their little children, and they shall all be saved with their little children” (Moroni 8:10). And when Jesus visited the American continent, He said, “Ye must repent, and be baptized in my name, and become as a little child, or ye can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God” (3 Nephi 11:37-38; see also 3 Nephi 9:22).

Some of the most sublime events during the Savior’s ministry on the American continent occurred as He ministered to young children. (See 3 Nephi 17:11-25, 3 Nephi 26:14, 16.)

Here is a blog post about this principle:

3. “Let him be your servant”

In the Parable of the Pharisee and the Publican, Jesus contrasts two prayers: one self-righteous and condescending and the other deferential and unpretentious. Jesus explained, “Every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted” (Luke 18:14).

In the Parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard, He illustrates the damaging effect of comparing ourselves with others and expecting to receive more than people whom we perceive to be inferior. (See Matthew 20:1-16.)

And when His own apostles began to bicker about their relative status in the kingdom of heaven, He instructed them, “Whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister: and whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant” (Matthew 20:26-27; see also Mark 10:43-44).

Here are some principles I have learned from this instruction of the Savior:

4. “He cried the more….”

Jesus reminded us in the Sermon on the Mount that God “knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him” (Matthew 6:8). Why then must we pray? And why must we sometimes ask many times before we receive the needed blessing? In response to this question, Jesus shared the Parable of the Importunate Widow, in which a woman begs a judge repeatedly to address an injury she has suffered. The judge eventually complies, simply because she never stops asking. The Savior concludes the parable with this question: “When the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8) His message is clear: we demonstrate our faith and commitment by pleading for a blessing persistently over time.

The healing of the blind beggar (or beggars) further illustrates this principle. As Mark tells the story, a blind man named Bartimæus pleaded with Jesus to have mercy on him. The people around him told him to be quiet, but instead of complying, “he cried the more a great deal, Thou Son of David, have mercy on me.” In response, the Savior stopped and healed him, saying, “Thy faith hath made thee whole” (Mark 10:46-52; see also Matthew 20:30-34, Luke 18:35-43).

It might seem unintuitive to pray persistently over time, but that is one way we demonstrate our faith to God. Here’s a blog post on that topic:

Other passages

Here are two other blog posts you might find useful as you study this week’s assignment:

TopicPassageBlog Post
Marriage and divorceMatthew 19:3-12, Mark 10:2-12“Marriage Is Ordained of God”
Roles of church leadersMatthew 19:28, Luke 22:30Will We Be Judged by the Apostles?

Blog Posts: May 9-14

Servant Leadership

Jesus taught that leaders in God’s kingdom do not place themselves above others. They focus on serving and ministering to those they lead. In the Book of Mormon, King Benjamin and Ammon demonstrated this kind of leadership.

The Eleventh Hour

One message of the Parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard is that it’s never too late for us. God is not only willing to bless us, He is eager to do so. He loves us and delights in extending grace to us, especially when we don’t think we deserve it.

“Is Your Eye Evil Because I Am Good?”

In the Parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard, the people who had worked all day were angry because those who worked far less were paid the same. Their employer questioned their envy: Why should you feel bad when something good happens to someone else?

“Suffer Little Children to Come Unto Me”

We can learn several lessons from Jesus’ admonition to suffer little children to come unto Him: 1. Encourage children in their efforts to grow closer to God. 2. Prioritize time with children. 3. When we are with children, give them our full attention.

The Pharisee and the Publican

We don’t have to convince God that we are worthy of His love. He loves us and is eager to help us. If we are so focused on proving to Him that we are already good, we may miss the opportunity to let Him help us become better!

Women in the Gospels

Here are some lessons I have learned from women who knew Jesus: Mary, mother of Jesus: Ponder things in your heart. The Samaritan woman: Testify and invite. Mary, Martha’s sister: Choose the good part. Mary Magdalene: Come to the tomb.

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