August 13, 2018

Mark 10:17-22… And as He was setting out on His journey, a man ran up to Him and knelt before Him and asked, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 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, the man went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.

            So I asked God, “Why this story today? It is about rich people and I am not that.” He ’spoke’ to me. “It is about more than riches.”

            First of all, the man was deliberate in how he approached Jesus. He ran up to Him and knelt before Him. When a man kneels before another, he is saying, “You are more important than me.” or even, “You are lord, I am servant.” He showed honor with his body language. And then he addressed him, “Good teacher…” That seems kind enough, right? Jesus rebuked him. “NO one is good except God alone.” Perhaps that was his way of saying, “Flattery will get you nowhere.” The warning is that our words must reflect our thoughts. Jesus already knew how this conversation would end. God said of the Pharisees, “You honor me with your lips but your hearts are far from me. So, your worship is in vain.” Make sure your words speak what is in your heart and not what other people will be impressed by. It is better to hold your tongue and face God honestly than to flatter with your lips. A note about true worship: It is an expression of who you are, welling up inside of you and bursting forth in love for God. It is so much more than you singing your favorite song.

            Verse 21… “Jesus looked at him and loved him…” I studied this years ago and I think Mark is the only writer who included the phrase, “and loved him.” It might seem redundant to include the fact that Jesus loved him. That might even be why Matthew and Luke did not include it with their versions of this event. ‘Of course Jesus loved him, He loved everyone.” For whatever reason, Mark included it, and it gives us another lesson. “Love” doesn’t mean, “Make the other person feel good.” Jesus loved him and challenged him. I wonder what the other disciples thought. “Jesus, we could use a rich disciple.” Or “Did you not hear him? He is a good man.” Jesus, who looked into the heart, already threw out the superlative word, “good.”

            Lastly, Jesus did not instruct him to give all his money away. He did instruct him to sell all that he had, and he had much. And then He told him to give to the poor. Perhaps, Jesus was dealing with an attitude… the man loved his stuff…   giving to the poor was not about an amount; it was about his attitude regarding his stuff. In the end, the man could not imagine being without his stuff. Ouch, lord, that hurts.