“A man ran up to [Jesus] and fell on his knees before him,” asking how he might inherit eternal life. Jesus responded that the man must obey the 10 commands.
“Teacher,” [the man] declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.”
Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”’
At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth. Mark 10:2o-22 NIV
Jesus loved him!
Jesus looked down into this earnest man’s face and loved him.
And in his love, Jesus told the man that he must sell his all to give God his all.
What must have gone through this young man’s mind as he slowly and sadly stood up and walked away? Maybe he thought that eternal life wasn’t worth giving up his earthly joy.
Did he realize that Jesus himself is eternal life? That Jesus was calling him to give up anything that might come before his relationship with God? Had he known this truth, would he have followed then? Did he realize this later and return?
What was going through Jesus’ mind? His love for the man demanded that the man give up his idols. Jesus’ love for us knows that loss often proceeds greater intimacy: God will have no other gods before Him. Was Jesus sad that the man didn’t get it? Did he know he planted a seed that would later bear fruit?
Later, impetuous Peter of course blurts out: “We have left everything to follow you!” (vs. 28) as if it’s a contest. He who gives the most away wins.
But it’s not about winning. It’s not about negotiating with God to get blessings: I’ll give up everything if you bless me, Jesus.
It’s about losing everything in order to find Jesus. And that’s what Jesus tells him: sure, you’ll get something on this earth because of your sacrifice, plus you’ll get persecution now and eternity later. But the real “getting” is when you realize:
But many who are first will be last, and the last first.
When you stop trying to win (even by giving up the most!), you will gain Jesus. Peter eventually “got” it.
And I hope the man (otherwise known as “the rich young ruler”) eventually got it, too.
Oh, Lord: I am kneeling before you. You look down at ME with love! (You do?) What do you ask me to give up in order that I may gain you in a new way? Please speak loud enough that I may hear and obey. Amen.
Today’s Readings (3/6/12): Numbers 11:1-12:16, Psalm 31:14-18, Proverbs 11:12-14, Mark 10:1-31. See About for what I’m up to with these daily posts.