A rich young ruler who was by all appearance a truly religious and prosperous person – the kind that we tend to call blessed – came to Jesus. Maybe, he came to make a good impression.
However, talking to Jesus rocked his life the way an earthquake does – cracks showing up in everything he had carefully built and everything threatening to collapse in a moment and become a heap of ruins.
If we look at it, the offer of Jesus was not a bad bargain at all. He was asked to give up the fragile and the very temporary things that are of course visible and tangible for that which will last forever but cannot be seen in the present.
That man may have been successful in his own right but he did not have the guts to let go of all and seize the hand of Jesus Christ. He cuts a lone sorry figure in the Gospels, who came to Jesus with great expectation but went away disappointed. Nevertheless, he is not alone. Many of us give him company. We are so much like him in valuing the worthless and our inability to let go of things that are already doomed and decaying.
Maybe the difference between him and us is that, while he might have said to himself – “I don’t want this commandment of Jesus;” and we are saying – “This commandment of Jesus is not for me.”
It is one of the most dangerous attitudes when we read or hear God’s Word and take what we like even as we carelessly ascribe what we do not like to somebody else.
We fabricate our excuse by interpreting any given text according to our convenience and thus we undo God’s Word and the power of His message. Young Anthony who was made rich by his parents’ estate, went to church one day. The text for that day was the one about the rich young ruler. The emphasis was on: “go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” Unlike us, he was new to church and did not know anything about allegorical interpretation. So, he obeyed, literally, selling all that he had and giving them to the poor and then he went to live all his life in the desert before being martyred for his faith at a very old age.
We have not become what God wants us to be because of our sick practice of responding to God’s Word according to our convenience. What Jesus specifically told that young man is actually something that He taught very generally and is meant for one and all – “For whosoever would save his life will lose it, but whosoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”
The rich young ruler only did something that we are guilty of doing so often – we try to save our life.
Do we trust Jesus Christ to such an extent that we are not only willing to lose our life for His sake, but actually putting into practice that holy and spiritual discipline of losing our life for His sake?