Thursday, October 30, 2014
God's grace and the rich young man
“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 (NIV)
The familiar scripture passage above has a great message about grace entwined with the message about wealth and works. The passage begins with a young man running to Jesus and falling on his knees. This young man knows that Jesus is from God because he calls Jesus good, and Jesus recognizes this as a reference to God.
The specific question that the young man poses to Jesus is "what must I do to inherit eternal life?" The young man recognizes his need beyond this earthly realm; however, the young man's question is asking what earthly thing he can do to inherit eternal life.
Jesus recognizes the fault in this man’s question; yet, Jesus looks at the young man and loves him. Jesus loves the young man in his earthly condition and in his attempts to do what is right.
This young man was trying to find eternal life by traveling an earthly path. We do not find out that this young man is wealthy until the very end of the story. When Jesus tells the young man that he lacks one thing, Jesus is saying that the man lacks an eternal focus. The one earthly thing that the young man can do is to relinquish his earthly focus, and store up treasure in heaven.