Today is about cost. The cost of relationship. The hefty prices. Payment. I have stayed away from this nation for a long time. Recently I came back for awhile. The first thing that really shocked me was the cost. One morning after my walk in the park, I got into the usual nearby economy supermarket and took a few essential basic breakfast food. When I checked out, I was in for a shock. I did not have enough cash to pay for the stuff. I thought I was carrying more than sufficient cash to even buy more if I had wanted to. But how wrong it turned out. I was holding up the queue. So I told the cashier to remove three items: tea, toilet paper, and oranges. It was the moment of truth in this nation. In less than a year, inflation of all goods and service have rocketed by over 30%-100% (plus newly implemented additional sales and service taxes). The plastic bags cost twenty-five cents a piece. As I had to walk quite a distance to the parked car, I had to purchase three flimsy plastic grocery bags. It was like daylight robbery. When I went to a wet market to buy sweet potatoes the following day, the foreign work seller sighed and mumbled to me apologetically after he weighed and calculated the price of two tiny pieces of sweet potatoes. He said. “Nowadays no one can afford to eat anything!” Then he threw up his hands into the air and pointed to the fish market, “Tell me, who can afford to eat a fish today?” The fish market was indeed quite empty compared to a year ago. I briefly gazed at it, sighed, and left with my two precious sweet potatoes, imagining the various ways I can ration these two pieces of delicacy.
The message that touches me deeply today is what Jesus said about the real cost.
In Mark 10:13-31, Jesus talks about the un-calculative childlike requirement to receive and thereby enter the Kingdom of God. There is a Kingdom where God rules. The qualification to receive and enter it is not to count like the people of the world count. The mathematics of this world does not measure up in His Kingdom. The disciples were shock too when they heard this new math. “Then who in the world can be saved?” They questioned Jesus. Like, what is the point? Even the one who can count most cannot enter?
What Jesus replies is even more shocking. First, the one who cannot count can enter. Second, those who can count must henceforth become someone who cannot count.
What? How can this be possible? But Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But not with God. Everything is possible with God.”
Peter could not understand and kept talking about human way of counting. So Jesus spoke to them about how the Kingdom of God’s math works. This is real good counting. I am happy I am using this math and not the one I had left behind.
Mark 10:29-31 New Living Translation (NLT)
29 “Yes,” Jesus replied, “and I assure you that everyone who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or property, for my sake and for the Good News, 30 will receive now in return a hundred times as many houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and property—along with persecution. And in the world to come that person will have eternal life. 31 But many who are the greatest now will be least important then, and those who seem least important now will be the greatest then.[a]”
- 10:31 Greek But many who are first will be last; and the last, first.
Today’s reading: Mark 10:13-31; Leviticus 24:1-25:46; Psalm 33:12-22; Proverbs 10:20-21