Mission Impossible

Read Mark 10:17-31

From the mid-1960s through the early 1970s, a television series starring Peter Graves, Barbara Bain and Greg Morris entertained many Americans…Mission: Impossible. IMDb describes the show as, “An elite covert operations unit carries out highly sensitive missions subject to official denial in the event of failure, death or capture.” In 1996, Tom Cruise produced and starred in the first of six movies based on the television show. There are two more movies in the series scheduled to be released in the coming years. The reason for the title is the idea that what this covert unit is asked to do is seemingly impossible. Yet, the unit always accomplishes its objective, albeit with some significant hurdles and setbacks along the way.

Today we encounter “mission impossible” in our reading from Scripture. A rich man seeks to ensure he has done, and is doing, the correct things to spend eternity in the presence of God. Jesus tells him to do the obvious, follow God’s commandments. When the man assures Jesus that he has checked off that box since he was young, Jesus gives him his mission impossible–give up his wealth for charity. The man declined to accept the mission. Jesus then points out that to achieve eternity in the presence of God, one must surrender to the possibility of God.

Our reaction to Jesus’s teaching here is much like the reactions of the rich man and the disciples. We feel defeated and wonder why we should not just give up. The demand Jesus seems to be making goes beyond our capabilities. Even Jesus acknowledges this impossibility. So what are we left at this point?

The rich man and the disciples are missing what Jesus is trying to teach here. They feel defeated because they are relying on their own abilities. Jesus is saying we must surrender ourselves and our abilities to God. We are not the ones who are to complete the mission, in fact, we cannot. The mission is God’s mission and has already been completed in Jesus Christ. This is why Jesus says, “It is finished,” as he dies on the cross. He is actually declaring, “Mission accomplished.”