“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
On this journey with Jesus there will be some that want to join knowing that He is leading the way to eternal life. Unfortunately, not all of them are willing to do what it takes to follow Jesus. The story of this young man is a common one that we know very well. He has a genuine interest in things beyond this world but is also deeply invested in this world. When he bursts on the scene we sense his urgency as he runs onto the stage and kneels before Jesus. It seems that he knows that Jesus is a Teacher and presents his request to Jesus with humility and respect.
Jesus responds with the standard answer…”You know the commandments”…and He lists a few of them. It is interesting that Jesus points lists six commandments that deal with our interactions with others and skips the first four that apply to our relationship to God, beginning with, “You shall have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3). Jesus knew that the young man was a “good” guy when it came to how he treated others, but he also knew the man had a problem with priorities. He was wealthy and his riches were currently occupying top spot in his heart.
After Jesus’ first response things begin to get uncomfortable. The man knows that there is more to it and he presses Jesus for the “deeper” answer…the “real” answer. “There’s more isn’t there?” Even though he is wealthy and a “good” man, he realizes that there is something still missing in his life. He was longing for something that was eternal, something beyond this world.
Knowing the man’s heart was breaking Jesus’ heart. “And Jesus looking at him, loved him…” So Jesus responds in a way that cuts to the very “heart” of the man’s problem. Even though he wanted to experience eternal life, he was not willing to make that the most important thing. It is painfully obvious that the temporary things that he had worked to acquire held the number one spot in his life and he had to walk away. Wow.
Do we have anything in our lives that keep us from being fully devoted followers of Jesus? Jesus doesn’t ask everyone to sell all they have before they can follow Him, but He does ask us to give Him our full devotion. We must beware of the things in our lives that compete for our allegiance to the Lordship of our Father. What do you need to offer to God today?