Wednesday, September 16, 2009

There must be more....

The Rich Young Ruler (or Surely I am Missing Something)

Mark 10:17-21 AMP
(17)And as He (Jesus) was setting out on His journey, a man ran up and knelt before Him and asked Him, Teacher, [You are essentially and perfectly morally] good, what must I do to inherit eternal life [that is, to partake of eternal salvation in the Messiah's kingdom]? (18)And Jesus said to him, Why do you call Me [essentially and perfectly morally] good? There is no one [essentially and perfectly morally] good--except God alone. (19)You know the commandments: Do not kill, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not bear false witness, do not defraud, honor your father and mother. (20)And he replied to Him, Teacher, I have carefully guarded and observed all these and taken care not to violate them from my boyhood. (21)And Jesus, looking upon him, loved him, and He said to him, You lack one thing; go and sell all you have and give [the money] to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come [and] accompany Me [walking the same road that I walk]. (22)At that saying the man's countenance fell and was gloomy, and he went away grieved and sorrowing, for he was holding great possessions.

The story of the rich young ruler has been told over and over again by countless preachers, teachers and theologians. Most with the same admonition, "Don't get too attached to stuff!". Yeah, that's a true statement. You can't deny the lesson here because Jesus follows up with His disciples in the next verses like this:

(23)And Jesus looked around and said to His disciples, With what difficulty will those who possess wealth and keep on holding it enter the kingdom of God! (24)And the disciples were amazed and bewildered and perplexed at His words. But Jesus said to them again, Children, how hard it is for those who trust (place their confidence, their sense of safety) in riches to enter the kingdom of God!

Okay, I get it. If you get caught up in what the world values instead of what God values you miss the boat. But let's take another look, focusing on verse 21. It says that Jesus looked at the rich man and loved him. That seems rather out of place in this story. Jesus is just about to tell the disciples how hard it is to be rich AND saved at the same time. But there it is, Jesus looked at the man and LOVED him. What could possibly evoke that from Jesus? Let's look at the rich man's question and statements a little closer:

"Good Teacher" said the rich man, " what do I need to do in order to be a part of God's kingdom."

Jesus gives him the sunday school answer (I believe) the man expected. Don't kill, don't steal, don't lie, don't covet, and honor Mom and Dad. I think it is the next statement from the rich man that prompted the swell of affection from Jesus.

"Jesus", said the man, " I've done that since I was a kid!"

If I may offer a paraphrase here, "There must be something else" is what I believe he was trying to say. Or possibly " Jesus, there has to be something I am missing." Or maybe, "If this is all there is I'm not sure I want it."

I believe the fact that the rich man was questioning all that RELIGION had to offer gave Jesus hope. Maybe Jesus thought to Himself, "That's it son! Reach a little further past the rules you've been taught by religion and find Me!" So Jesus answered, probably with some enthusiasum, "Yes! You are right! There IS more than cold rules and dead religion! Sell all that stuff your religion has convinced you is a blessing from God and follow Me!"

Jesus' heart must have ached a little as the rich man walked away.