When Jesus heard his answer, he said, “There is still one thing you haven’t done. Sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow Me.”
~Luke 18:22, NLT
Sometimes, Jesus words can be amazingly hard.
I agree with Chambers; sometimes Jesus commands us to do difficult things. Luke 14:26 is a good example: “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple.” Another is found in John 6, “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you cannot have eternal life within you. But anyone who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise that person at the last day.” In the first four centuries, these verses were used by the Jews and Romans to persecute Christians who they accused of being cannibals. Of course, Jesus was not talking about cannibalism, He simply meant that we must ingest His teaching and His personality. Jesus often used metaphors that carried the idea of ingestion–Living water, bread of life, etc. The story behind today’s text is that of the person we call the Rich Young Ruler. This comes from three different descriptions from the three synoptic gospels. I have preached from this passage many times. It is laced with spiritual truth, and I love sharing this message, but Chambers pointed out something that had never crossed my mind. The Rich Young Ruler did not walk away in defiance. He did not walk away mumbling. He walked away in silent sorrow. He walked away with a broken heart.
He wanted all his stuff and Jesus to boot. Jesus basically told him, “You don’t need the stuff, get rid of the stuff and follow Me. I am really all you need.” The young man took this message hard because he loved his stuff. He was saying by his actions, “I love and admire You Jesus, but I am not going to put You above my stuff.” Jesus made him realize that he had to make a choice of either or, and it broke his heart because he wanted both his stuff and Jesus. There are some other interesting things about the story. Jesus speaks the truth to him, but he does not cajole or beg him, not does He go after him when he walks away. Jesus does not change His conditions; He does not negotiate a compromise. It is absolutely amazing: Jesus never begged, cajoled, coaxed or used any form of pressure and He never lowered the standard to make commitment easier. Jesus simply spoke His word and left it up to the individual to respond. I hate high pressure salesmen. I have learned to tell them, “If you don’t stop trying to pressure me, I am leaving and I am not coming back.” I am very uncomfortable with preachers who use high pressure methods to get people to respond. I want to be like Jesus: present the word of truth and leave the decision up to the listener. If they choose to walk away; I respect their right to make that choice although I firmly believe–they are making the wrong choice.
One other thing: most of us like this story because we are not wealthy. Can we be tempted the way this young man was tempted if we are poor? Chambers points out the fact that there are various types of wealth. Some of us are rich in pride. I am filthy rich in impatience and ignorance. It is not just money that Jesus expects us to lay down.
TGIF. Can you believe it? High school football began last night. Hannah and I drove through Athens at 7:00 and got caught in the traffic of the Athens/East Limestone game. I hope East won.
Have a great day and great weekend. Thanks for reading the blog.