Again, Follow Me!

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: ‘Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, do 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.

Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!”  (Mark 10:17-23)

This young man referred to Jesus as “Teacher.” He truly had good intentions. This young man considered Jesus to be a recognized authority. But I think, like many of us, he was looking for a formula to fill, or a task to be done, or a command to be followed! No more worries! We sealed the deal, so to speak. We can accomplish that one task or responsibility on our “list” and then proceed on with living our lives however we please.

Wanting to justify himself by his works this rich young man asks Jesus what must he do to inherit eternal life. Jesus understands what the man is truly seeking. He  first lists the commands He knew the young man was already following. And then Jesus, looking at this young man with much love, says, “One thing you lack.” It reminds me of the verse in Daniel 5:

You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting. (Daniel 5:27)

The Old Testament tells us that all our righteous acts won’t help us:

All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags. (Isaiah 64:6)

In the New Testament, Paul tells us:

As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one.” (Romans 3:10)

Take It to Heart

I believe Jesus wanted this young man to understand that faith is a heart issue and not a works issue. Our works simply evidence our faith. Christ is desirous of our relationship with Him, not what we do for Him. He tells us that apart from Him we can do nothing, meaning nothing eternal is accomplished apart from Christ. Jesus wants us to follow Him wholeheartedly and unreservedly. He wants to be Lord over our lives.