As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud, honor your father and mother.’ “Teacher,” he 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 10:17-22
If there's a certain book that is wrecking me right now, it's the Gospel of Mark. I'm taking a prolonged, somewhat meandering sweep through the Bible and as we head into the weeks leading up to Easter, I'm smack dab in Mark. I'm glad I'm here even though the words of Jesus cut to the heart, even leaving me uncomfortable at times. You know how sometimes your prayer time is stalled simply because you have a lack of what to say or even how to respond to what God is showing you? That's the season I'm in right now. I think it’s difficult because I want to charge ahead. I want to see the vision and take the hill based upon God's revealed truth for my life. But He's leading me to old passages and basic truths that again I feel are for my own growth and nourishment. In sharing these thoughts, I hope they bless you as well.
You are probably familiar with the passage of Jesus' encounter with the Rich Young Ruler. We don't have much context about who this guy is, where he was from or why he was wealthy. But we do see him as an upstanding man; he knows the right things to say and has believed all of Scripture as he has been taught. If it were present-day, I’d imagine him as a Fortune 500 CEO who is extremely wealthy. Someone who went to church as a little boy, attended Sunday School, and knows all the 10 Commandments. He's honest, he's fair, and he's a "good person". But what concerns him is this idea of eternal life. He's not sure if he's attained it or if there's something else he should be doing. And that seems to be his motivation in seeking out Jesus.
Jesus does what only He can do as He responds to this man: He cuts straight to the heart of the matter. Jesus loves the man, but also corrects him lovingly (vs. 21): “You lack one thing. Go, sell all you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven." One thing. One seemingly small thing in the light of eternity. It was the wealth the man had that was his idol. And it stood between him fully accepting Christ and following after Him.
Jesus always gets to the heart of the matter. The thing that drives us. The thing that perhaps no one else sees or completely knows about but is the overarching force behind what we do. Money. Possessions. Power. Sex. Prestige. Safety. Family. Peace. Happiness. Acceptance. All within that list are items we can put before our pursuit of Christ thinking they will bring us the fulfillment we are looking for. The Rich Young Ruler held onto his wealth. He went away sad because he didn’t know how he could let go of what Jesus had put His finger on. It was his identity and at the end of the day if he didn't have that, who or what was he?
Who or what are you without that one thing you seek?
If it's Jesus and only Jesus, you will find nothing in this world will satisfy. Nothing even comes close. The older I get, the more I find Solomon's words to be true: I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind. Ecclesiastes 1:14. With that reminder, I have to take into account my life and where I spend the seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, and years. It will all come to a close; it will all one day be over and death will be a reality. But what also is a reality is the eternity we have.
Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my concerns. Psalm 139:23
If we apply these truths to our lives today, we start at a place of self-assessment. We identify that “thing” and allow Jesus to get to the heart of the matter in our own lives. We allow God to search us out, as painful or as uncomfortable as it may be. And then we repent and we turn the opposite direction to Him. We find others (church community, Bible study, Christian support groups) who can help us and hold us accountable in the area of our weakness.
As we come into the Easter season, there is no better time to kneel at the foot of the cross and contemplate once again all that Jesus died for. His sacrifice is as powerful today as it was when He went to Calvary. And nothing can diminish that power.
I love you guys! I am praying for you during this time that you will experience His grace and goodness in new and profound ways.
Would love to connect: firstname.lastname@example.org