There once was a man who was having a rather, to himself, troubling question. To others the question would have seemed strange for this man to be thinking as well.  You see this was a young man.  So to be bothered by the question on his mind would have seemed odd versus a man of much longer longevity.  Second the young man was rich.  In the society of his day, a man who was rich, as long as he had not received his riches by nefarious means, was looked upon as being blessed from the Highest Power.  The reason for the blessing, it was thought, must be because of virtuous living, so again the young man’s financial state was a testament to his good life.  I am sure, although we are not told in the story, had this man asked the question to the scholars of his day, he would have been told not to worry; to continue to give a portion of his riches to his religious institution, live the law and he would be even more blessed.

Still the man was either troubled or wanted to just cover his bases with everyone; so he came to another source; one outside the mainstream.  Yet a source, who by reputation of the masses, the religious and political elite hated him, was a man of power and tremendous spiritual insight.  So he came and he asked Jesus:  “Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?”

At first Jesus’ response must have confused him but as he listened I’m sure his heart perked up at what he heard:  “Why do you call Me good?  No one is good but One that is God.  You know the commandments:  Do not commit adultery, Do not murder, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and your mother.

By what he said next, I can imagine the young man was overall thrilled with Jesus answer.  The young man was about to get the affirmation he had come for.  Yet he did not understand the first comment.  He did not understand that no matter who, he thought was “good” on this earth to listen to.  Especially in matters of eternal life, there was only One who could answer rightly and that was God in Heaven (although Jesus being God on Earth also actually knew about this but the young man was not asking Jesus as the Son of God).  The young man missed that.  For again I imagine with part smugness and joy in his heart he replied:  “Teacher (notice he left off the good this time) all these things I have kept from my youth.”  Can’t you just imagine that the young man expects Jesus to then pronounce that he has earned his way to eternal life?!

Alas it was not to be.

For Jesus first focuses on him with a look of genuine love and said “One thing you lack Go your way, whatever you have, give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven, and come take up the cross and follow Me.”

You can almost hear the man’s heart break.  You can visualize not only the confusion on his face but how his entire buddy suddenly sags to the ground.  This was not the response he was so desperately seeking.  You see in his world, the reason he had possession was because of his virtuous life.  Now he was being told to give them all up?  He didn’t even ponder the idea of taking up a cross.  He couldn’t get past having treasure in heaven could possibly mean giving up treasure on earth.  He went away dejected.

Jesus response was genuine and out of love although I believe He knew what the young man’s response was going to be.  Jesus says He knew who it was that was given to Him; even that person who would betray Him, and he knew this man was not to be among them.

Why did he lack?  For the same reason I look at my house, clothes, cars, 401K and if I’m not careful, I see these as my source of comfort and stability or believing that I deserve them on the basis of my righteous efforts.  Having these things is not the sin.  Either thinking that I must hoard them for myself, or not thinking about using them to help others is where the sin comes in.

We must watch.  The young man’s  question was about eternity but his focus was on here and now.  The very One, Jesus, who created and is over both; eternal life and this life, asked the young man, what he asks us; Follow Me.  His question, I believe, has with it a promise.  If you will follow Me, I will provide you with your needs, peace in times of trouble and an eternal habitation with Me and My Heavenly Father.

Is that an answer I/we are willing to act on?      Prayers of blessings and hope for all who read these words.  Amen

 

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