As Jesus left the group of parents with their little children, a young man
suddenly broke with the ranks and chased after him.


 

As Jesus was going out on the road, one came running, knelt
before
him, and asked, "Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may
inherit eternal life?"

Jesus said to him, "Why do you call Me good? No one is good but
One, that is, God. You know the commandments: 'Do not commit
adultery,' 'Do not murder,' 'Do not steal,' 'Do not bear false witness,'
'Do not defraud.' 'Honor your father and your mother.'"

He answered, "Teacher, all these things I have kept from my youth."
Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, "One thing
you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor,
and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross,
and follow Me."

But he was sad at this word, and went away sorrowful, for he had
great possessions.
                                                       Mark 10:17-22 NKJV, condensed


                                 Young, Rich & Unfulfilled 

This incident is about a little child that had grown up. He ran after Jesus,
spun around just in front of him and fell on his knees at the feet of the
traveling preacher, thus stopping any forward progress. His heart was
saying, "Me too, Jesus, bless me, too." But being a man he had to sound
like one. So he said, "Good Teacher . . .", thinking as he said it--that
sounds pretty good!

When meeting a celebrity we ponder what to say so we won't come
across like a fool. If anyone else overhears our comment, it must impress
them at least as somewhat rational. It's something like leading in public
prayer. We think too much about the people in the room and not enough
about the God we're talking to, all the while trying to keep it real, safe
and respectable

This grown-up child in our story asked an excellent question. In a unique
and original way he asked the eternal question of how we connect with
our Creator in a fulfilling way. He must have scored high points with his
peers. What is required of me in this life so that in the next life I will
survive the cut? How can I be sure I am on the right track? What must
I do to make my days on earth really count for something?
This young
man was asking what many people have pondered. He was an upright
individual, concerned with goodness, and placing high value on the virtues.
He had done well in his opening sentence to Jesus. Anyone knowing him
would have been proud.

But Jesus immediately started chipping away. Carefully choosing his
words, he left no room for pride. Jesus shifted the spotlight off himself
and onto God. God alone is good. But, we question, if only God is good,
then what about this young man who, compared to most others, we would
definitely call good. Jesus was cutting through outward appearances and
going straight to the heart. The young man probably felt rebuked and
began to regret his rash behavior.

The Teacher moved right ahead. What do the commandments instruct
you to do? Jesus repeated some of them. The young man responded,
this time dropping the disputed word. He was smart and didn't make the
same mistake twice. "Teacher, I've done all the Law requires ever since
my childhood."
Implying, surely there must be something more! What
am I missing?

That's when Jesus took another look at the person before him--really
looked. His heart warmed and it says Jesus loved him. We know God
loves all of us with unconditional loving kindness. But in this instance the
love was stated in a special way. The kneeling man received exactly what
he had hoped for. This was his and-Jesus-took-him-in-his-arms-and-
blessed-him point in time. He had Jesus' full attention and was the object
of his loving gaze. It was a magic moment unlike any other he would ever
encounter.

Then Jesus spoke and the magic evaporated in an instance. "You lack
one thing. Go sell your possessions. Invest everything you have in heaven,
then come and follow me." This was the answer to the young man's
yearning. It was an invitation to the intimacies of discipleship. Sell
everything--but that doesn't leave anything left. Give it all away to those
who have nothing--that requires faith greater than the proverbial mustard
seed. Take up the cross and follow Jesus--What does that involve?
It was such a great unknown he couldn't begin to visualize it.

In some ways we could say more was asked of this young man, whom
Jesus looked upon and loved, than was asked of any other disciple we
read about in the Gospels! All! Everything! Up front or nothing! He couldn't
do that. Ask anything else, O Lord, anything; and I will do it. Clouds
overshadowed the sunshine of Jesus' love. The young man's face fell.
He turned and went the other way with a heavy heart, failing to learn
heaven's paradoxical truth that we lose what we keep and we gain
what we give away.

Shortly after this, Jesus was crucified and those who knew this young
man sighed a huge sigh of relief that he had not gone after Jesus. Surely
he had made the right choice. But those were people for whom death
meant the last page of the final chapter. The disciples who followed Jesus
knew differently because their Good Teacher had taught them that death
is another beginning, like grain when it is planted is reborn into a new stalk
that bears abundant fruit. These are the ones who would find by losing,
save by spending, discover riches through poverty, joy through suffering,
and life through dying.

 

Use the following questions for small groups, journaling, further
study or reflection.

 

Icebreaker:   If you could ask Jesus one question (maybe one silly and
                        one serious question), what would it be?

 

This young man had been on the side lines, listening and watching, but now
Jesus has affected him to the point that he is willing to step out from the crowd.
            What does his running and falling on his knees say about the intensity
                        of his desire to connect with Jesus?
            In what areas of life have you moved from watching to participating?
                        What motivated you and how difficult was it to change?

 

If only God is good, then to call Jesus good is to equate him with God. Was
Jesus saying, "Don't call me good unless you really believe I come from God."?
            Name other reasons why Jesus might reject his use of the word "good"?

 

What did the young man mean when he asked, "Good Teacher, what shall I do
that I may inherit eternal life?"   Rephrase that question in your own words.

 

The commandments are a starting point, but what more is needed to satisfy
what this young man was needing?

 

Think back to the time Jesus called his 12 disciples and the patience he had with
them for three years. Then consider how the timing (so near to his death) of his conversation with the wealthy young man might have influenced this encounter.

 

Jesus looked attentively at this young man and loved him.
            Was it pity/compassion? Respect/admiration? Longing/regret?
            What was the love Jesus had for him?

 

Was it faith or was it foolishness that made this young man want to bow
            before Jesus, learn more, and take in all that Jesus had to offer?
Giving up everything in order to follow Jesus was a decision which could not be
reversed. Once done, he could never recover what he had given to the poor.
            Why was Jesus so drastic in asking so much of this one individual?

 

This man was at a crossroads. He had already gone farther than most people
in the crowd. Now the question is would he go all the way in response to Jesus.
            Discuss the alternatives he had.
            What would you have done if you were in his place?
Selling everything was a way of becoming empty so God could fill him up anew.
            When and how do you identify with being empty and then filled by God?
            When have you gained by giving something away?

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