By Erika Rizkallah
One of the most well known stories in the New Testament begins in Mark 10:17. It’s the story of the rich young ruler.
As Jesus was setting out on a journey, a young man ran up to him, threw himself at his feet and said, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
The first thing Jesus points out is his error. He asks, “Why do you call me good? No one is good — except God alone.”
I’m pretty sure it wasn’t the response he expected. After all, he was rich, young and a ruler. He would have been used to people kowtowing to him.
His had the correct approach. First of all, he ran up to Jesus — something a dignified and respected man would never do in that culture. Then he threw himself at Jesus’ feet, another unusual action for a man in his position.
It was a declaration of worship and I believe he really wanted to know the answer to his question.
But Jesus often does and says the unexpected.
Jesus responded, “You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, do not defraud, honor your father and mother.’
The ruler declared, “Teacher, all these I have kept since I was a boy.”
I love the next sentence. The Bible says Jesus looked at him and loved him. This story is often told and preached in pulpits all over the world . . . with the love part left out.
“One thing you lack,” said Jesus. “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.
I always feel for the guy when I hear this story. Here was a person who seemingly had it all: youth, wealth and power and yet, he walks away from the conversation in a state of sadness and uncertainty.
Jesus used the episode as a teaching moment for his disciples. He says, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!”
This flips the disciples out — they’re shocked and amazed — because during that time, it was thought that wealth and power were signs of blessing from God. A guarantee of gaining entrance to Heaven.
Sometimes we come to Jesus asking deep questions and don’t get the expected answers. But maybe that’s the point.
Only he knows what we truly lack. Only he knows what hinders our faith walk.
But like the rich young ruler, we first have to be brave enough to ask the question.
How about you? What questions have you asked Jesus lately?