“The risk is that I am not seeing Christ for who he truly is. If I can’t see that Christ alone as enough to fully satisfy my every desire, then eternal life with him is not appealing at all.” – excerpt
16Now a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?” 17“Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, obey the commandments.” 18“Which ones?” the man inquired. Jesus replied, “‘Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, 19honor your father and mother, and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.” 20“All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?” 21Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” 22When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth. 23Then Jesus said to his disciples, “I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24Again I tell you, 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.” 25When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, “Who then can be saved?”26Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
I’ve been told the eye of a needle was a very small hole in the side of an ancient city wall where travelers could get access when the city gate was closed. To get a camel through it was very difficult and would require the camel to remove his baggage and crawl on his knees. So, I was told, it is very difficult for rich people to go to heaven, but it is possible if they are willing to unload their baggage, get down on their knees and crawl through the dirt.
Although God does very often make the rich to become humble and contrite so they can better understand the grace they are given – that is not the main point of this passage. This passage does not tell us that with enough grovel and dirty work, even the rich will make it to heaven.
Salvation belongs to God and it is impossible for a man to work for it (verse 26). Salvation is God’s gift graciously given to sinners. The righteousness of Jesus given to sinners while he absorbs their blame on the cross.
So why does Jesus say it is very difficult for a rich person to be saved? Why did the rich young man go away sad?
Jesus replied to the young man’s question simply; sell your stuff, give it to the poor, and follow me. So it’s fair to guess the rich young man walked away sad for one of two reasons.
1. The rich young man loved his possessions so much, that he couldn’t imagine an eternal life being any good without them. He seemed to understand that Jesus was right, but he felt as if the cost was to high.
2. The rich young man’s eyes were opened and he saw how valuable Christ was. He was sad that he had wasted so much of his life building up his possessions when all along he would eventually give them away to follow after the more valuable treasure. In mourning for his sin, he returned to his house to start selling his possessions.
Matthew doesn’t give us an answer to this question, but I can hope that I will see that rich young ruler in heaven, and hear him tell the story himself. But until then, his story has effected me to ask this two pronged question of myself.
1. “Is my life set-up to give away my possessions and follow Christ with reckless abandon to any place that he leads me?” Or conversely,
2. “Is my life set-up to continue collecting possessions adding “Christ” as a possession?”
I know what I want! I want to say that Jesus is the only Lord of my desires, that he alone is seated on the throne of my heart, with every other desire bowing humbly to his sovereignty. That’s what I want my answer to that question to be, because I know that’s the right answer. But, the truth is most of the time I treat Jesus as if he is just another possession. A valuable possession! But never the less, I am prone to treat Jesus like he’s something I add to the collection of valuable things in my life, rather than sitting as King of my life, to which all of my possessions, including my time and breath, bow.
The risk is not that I am shirking my groveling duty as a Christian, and not that I am carrying too much emotional baggage. The risk is that I am not seeing Christ for who he truly is. If I can’t see that Christ alone as enough to fully satisfy my every desire, then eternal life with him is not appealing at all. If my answers to question 1 is no and my answer to question to is yes, it is not because I am a lazy Christian, or that I am not trying hard enough to be holy. My problem is that I am not seeing Jesus Christ for who he truly is.
JESUS IS the way the truth and the life. JESUS IS the glorious son of God. JESUS IS the morning star, the lamb that was slain, the king over all the earth. He already is the most valuable person I could subscribe my life to. If I have not sold my life out to him, it is not because I am lazy, or even because I am selfish – it is because I am blind. I don’t really beleive that he is, who he is. The answer is not to try harder, or to dig deeper and be less self centered. The answer is to look at him, see who he is. The proof is in the pudding. Christ is more valuable that any treasure. How could I waste my time with other possessions when the desires of my heart could only be met when I am in step with him.
Father, I’ve treated your son like possession rather than a person. I’ve made Jesus to be something I can acquire for eternal life, rather than allowing him to acquire me. I want so desperately to see the value of Jesus Christ, so that I can whole-heartedly offer up my possessions, time and person to desperately pursue my king. Give me eyes to see Lord. I’m hungry for you, and eager to know who you are more each day. You have captured my heart, and win me over again and again and again. Keep me in your ways Lord, I long to be near you and I’m empty without your touch.