To Obtain Eternal Life?


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Creative Commons Fountain of Eternal Life” by Erik Drost is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Eternal life is not about a heavenly afterlife. Instead it is about the quality and depth of meaning right here and right now.

Luke 18:18     A certain ruler asked Jesus, “Good Teacher, what must I do to obtain eternal life?” (CEB)

[Scripture taken from the Common English Bible®, CEB® Copyright © 2010, 2011 by Common English Bible.Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.]


Expanding Luke 18:18-30

A certain official approached Yeshua and asked, “Good teacher, what must I do to obtain eternal life?” Yeshua responded, “Please reserve your superlatives for the insistence, the calling that comes in the name of God. Perhaps. Eternal life is about the quality and depth of life lived now! You know the moral dictates; No adultery. No murder. No stealing. No false witness. Honor your parents.” To this the official said, “That describes me to a T.” Hearing this, Yeshua pressed on, “Then, you fall short in just one area. Try this: sell all your possessions and distribute the proceeds to the least, the last, the lost, and the left out. This is the simplest way for you to experience the heavenly treasure you so deeply desire. In other words, follow the Way that I have been teaching and living. That Way brings the eternal into the midst of everyday living.” Hearing Yeshua’s challenge, insistence, calling, invitation, the young official became very sad because he was a man of great means. Yeshua’s invitation was going to cost far more than he had ever expected.

Yeshua was also sad as he looked at the official’s downcast demeanor. “The wealthy do not have it easy. Their possessions have possessed them. The focus on acquiring and managing wealth and status sidetracks the eternal and counteracts the basic premise of the Way — namely, to put yourself on the line for the others. Eternal life means emptying out the superfluities of your life in order that you can invest yourself in relationship to others. And the test case is always relating to and investing in the least, the last, the lost, and the left out. Ironically, it always seems that those with fewer possessions are willing to give them away so that someone with a greater immediate need can be helped

These words from Yeshua prompted some of the by-standers to ask, “Then who can be saved.” Yeshua answered, “At first glance it may seem humanly impossible. but I’ll let you in on a little secret — there is a Way. Our ancestors have been teaching it for centuries — namely, to care for widows and orphans and to give full hospitality to the strangers you encounter. Instead of investing in the stock market, make your investment in others, especially those with pressing needs. God’s audacity meant giving up power, prestige, and status; depending, instead, on our very human capacity to pay attention to unheard inner callings and then to respond by following in the Way that gives a preview of the Commonwealth of Peace and Justice.

Peter then asked, “What about us? We have given up everything — home and family — to follow you!” Yeshua answered, “If you gave up home and family because you heard God calling, then you already have your reward. As you follow in the Way you are experiencing a sampling of God’s Commonwealth of Peace and Justice and your generous investment in others continues to make God present in the world. That is enough!

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2 Replies to “To Obtain Eternal Life?”

    1. I’m not sure what you are asking me to elaborate upon… but let me make a few general comments. For too long the church and it members have focused much more energy on getting beyond life — to an after-life, heaven, life ever-lasting. The New Testament idea, however, is eternal life which is about the here and now — that is, living our of a deeper meaning, living in a radical way (that is, in emulation of the Way Yeshua (Jesus) lived. As a Jew, he was steeped in the tradition of caring for widows and orphans and giving hospitality to strangers. His particular focus was the poorer, marginalized classes of Roman Society — that is, the underclasses. Yeshua’s message for today is that we need to be saved “from” ourselves, “from” our ego centrism, “from” our life being defined by ‘whoever dies with the most toys wins.’ Instead Yeshua taught that we need to be saved “for” self, others, world, and God. Salvation mean peace and justice (that is, the well-being of all in society). This is the “abundant life” that Yeshua preaches, teaches, and lives.

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