Certain stories in the Gospels are told so vividly, we imagine them as real. The Good Samaritan. The Prodigal Son. The Rich Man and Lazarus. None of these is a real story. They tell real truth, but they’re merely parables.
It’s easy to throw the story of The Rich Young Ruler in this camp as well. It’s recorded in Matthew 19, Mark 10 and Luke 18, making it a significant event. Yes, an event. Not just a parable. This really happened. And a few things really stand out.
First, the rich young man runs to catch up to Jesus. He literally runs! How eager he must have been to meet Jesus. How troubled he must have been by his spiritual standing. He knew something was missing and he was desperate to find out what it was! So he ran…
Next, notice the burning question he has for Jesus.
“Good Teacher, what good thing will I do that I might inherit eternal life?”
This young man has wealth, status, accomplishments. He’s accustomed to people accepting him based on what he has to offer.
Don’t mistake Jesus’ reply to go sell everything he has and give it to the poor as God’s standard for earning eternal life.
Jesus wants to get the young man off the DO track. To show him there is nothing HE can DO to inherit eternal life, Jesus gives him something to do that He knows will be impossible for him.
This becomes clear when the disciples later tell Jesus what He’s saying is impossible, and He replies, “What is impossible for man is possible for God.” No, you can’t be good enough to earn eternal life, but God will make it possible for you to receive it another way.
The most powerful statement for me in this entire encounter is where we read that “looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him.”
I wonder how the Gospel writers knew Jesus felt a love for the young man. Did they see it in His eyes? Did they hear it in His voice? Did Jesus reach out and put His hand on the young man’s shoulder?
However He conveyed it, Jesus’ love for the young man was obvious. Jesus showed compassion for the lost.
For Jesus, this was not an argument to be won.
For Jesus, this was not a project to be completed.
For Jesus, this was a person He would willingly lay down His life and die for.
If the disciples could see this love in Jesus’ eyes, I want to look at others with the eyes of Jesus.
If the disciples could hear this love in Jesus’ voice, I want to speak to others with the voice of Jesus.
If the disciples could sense this love through Jesus’ touch, I want to touch others with the tenderness of Jesus.
Father, please allow others to know Your love by the way I live and love.
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