The Rich Young Man
17 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?”
18 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. 19 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.'”
20 “Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.”
21 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.”
22 At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.
23 Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!”
24 The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”
26 The disciples were even more amazed, and said to each other, “Who then can be saved?”
27 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.”
28 Peter said to him, “We have left everything to follow you!”
29 “I tell you the truth,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel 30 will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age (homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—and with them, persecutions) and in the age to come, eternal life. 31 But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”
No Matter What You Do
This is such a rich passage, I want to take time to really go through it in smaller, more digestable segments. One of the most poignant moments of the passage is when Jesus looks at the young man, and tells him to sell all of his possessions and follow him, but the young man walks away, unable to do what Jesus commands. This is a very emotional moment in itself, but what makes it even more poignant is the fact that as Jesus looks at the man, verse 21 tells us that he “loved him”.
I would venture that because Jesus is God himself, and has shown throughout the gospels that he knows what people are thinking and talking about in secret, that he probably knew the man was going to walk away, even before it happened. And yet, despite this fact that Jesus foreknew the man’s actions, the Scripture doesn’t tell us that Jesus was disappointed with him, or skeptical of the young man (as I would have been) – only that Jesus loved him.
I often forget that Jesus loves me when I make mistakes. Now, this is very different from saying that Jesus loves me BECAUSE I make mistakes – I don’t think that’s true. But despite all my missteps and times I have walked away from Jesus, I believe that he still looks with love upon me. Sometimes we think that our mistakes have disqualified us from God’s love, that what we have done is so terrible that God could never love us. But when we think this way, we severely underestimate the love of God we have in Jesus – it’s far bigger, stronger, and resilient than we think. It is not so much that we need to think better of ourselves, but that we have to begin to think better of God.
1. Have you ever thought this way about God, that he stopped loving you after you had done something wrong?
2. What makes this idea, that God loves us despite our most terrible mistakes, so difficult to really believe?
3. Knowing that we are to be imitators of God, is there someone in your life that God is calling you to love despite their missteps?