The YounG Man & His Wealth Part 1
And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’” And he said to him, “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.” And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. Mark 10:17-22
This story fascinates me as it is the only one in the Gospels where somebody walks away from Jesus sad. (see parallels in Matthew 19:16-22 and Luke 18:18-23.) Sure, plenty leave angry, confused, excited, or jubilant. But no other speaks of walking away “disheartened.” The Greek word for his condition is λυπούμενος (lupoumenos), which means distressed, grieved, or inflicted with deep emotional pain. What could elicit such emotion?
First, we have the introduction where the man runs up and falls on his knees before Jesus and then calls Jesus “good teacher.” There is a feeling of desperation in these actions and words. Jesus’s response has a dual meaning, for only God is good, but the implication is that this man is treating him like an intermediary of God (maybe not understanding that Jesus is God incarnate).
The next part deals with the power of the Law to save. The young man has kept the obvious commandments about murder, adultery, stealing, lying, fraud, and honoring his parents, and yet, he is questioning if that is enough. Jesus lovingly looks at him (this is a special mercy-filled compassionate love known as agape) and points out that he is missing one thing; caring for the least.
Finally, Jesus invites him to sell everything, give it to the poor, and follow him. This request is a crushing blow to the man because he had plenty of possessions; he was wealthy. The man walks away, distraught because parting with these things is likely inconceivable. Because we don’t know his name, we don’t know if he ever comes back to follow Jesus, but based on his reaction, it is unlikely.
It is a difficult road when one submits and commits to the call to follow Jesus. We need to be prepared to put Jesus above everything else in one’s life, but It doesn’t always come with a request to sell everything and give it away. But it indeed asks you to make all your resources are available to advance the Kingdom (this is the essence of “loving God with all your might).
Remember, the ONE asking you to serve left his home and family and ultimately gave up his life for the Kingdom (and you and me).
Your love for us beyond our comprehension. Help us to use all of our resources to forward the Kingdom. Whether we are a teacher or bus driver, doctor or social worker, check-out clerk, or human resource manager, help us to see how we can treat our neighbors with love and compassion, seeking their welfare rather than pursuing our comforts.
I pray this in the name of the Lamb that was slain. Amen!