17 As Jesus was starting out on his way to Jerusalem, a man came running up to him, knelt down, and asked, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 18 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus asked. “Only God is truly good. 19 But to answer your question, you know the commandments: ‘You must not murder. You must not commit adultery. You must not steal. You must not testify falsely. You must not cheat anyone. Honor your father and mother.’[a]” 20 “Teacher,” the man replied, “I’ve obeyed all these commandments since I was young.” 21 Looking at the man, Jesus felt genuine love for him. “There is still one thing you haven’t done,” he told him. “Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” 22 At this the man’s face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions.
It is here that thirdly Jesus reveals the real answer to being good:
- Goodness is the result of a relationship with Jesus
The most amazing verse to me is Mark 10:21: “Jesus looked at him and loved him.” Isn’t that amazing? This man loved his money more than the Messiah and yet Jesus still lavished him with his love. Jesus could have told the man he was wrong or judged him or just dismissed him, but instead, He loved him. After the truth that Jesus has just taught its crystal clear that Jesus didn’t love him because he was good, or because he kept most of the religious requirements. No in fact it was actually the opposite, as 1 John 4:10 states: “This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” 2000 years later Jesus is still doing the same thing for us. He still sees all of our efforts that fall far short, He sees our sins pile up before Him and yet He looks at us with love. Unfortunately, many of us have this messed up mentality where we believe that God’s love is based on our performance. That if we would live better he would love us more. Not only do we fall for the lie that salvation is based on our works, but we also fall for the bogus belief that God’s love is also based on our effort. Instead of serving out of a secure relationship because we love the Lord, we serve because we are trying to get Him to love us more. This leads to a performance based life instead of a peace based one. It’s what I call the religious rat race, where we wear ourselves out running around the hamster wheel never getting where we want to go. It’s out of this abundance of love that Jesus reveals what is lacking as He says “go sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” To be good means to be kind and generous. Now this does not mean that we have to sell everything we have if we want to be Jesus disciple. Jesus was addressing the very thing that was holding this man back from service, that which he had never surrendered. So, let me ask you what is keeping you from faith in Christ? What’s keeping you from full surrender? What are you holding on to right now that is holding you back from fully following Jesus? Is it money? A relationship? Is it your time? Could it be a bad habit that you secretly enjoy? Just as Jesus pinpointed the root problem for this man, He looks at you with love and says, “This one thing you lack. Let it go, come and follow me.” Now this man turned down the gift of God because his fist was so clenched around his money that he couldn’t imagine devoting his life to anything else. When faced with the choice of loving God and others or protecting his possessions, he chose money over the Messiah. Mark 10:22 vividly describes an individual who is more in love with himself than he is with God: “At this the man’s face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions.” The Greek word translated “sad” paints a picture of storm clouds gathering. The man, who had run up to Jesus, now slumps away as an internal storm ravages his soul. It’s worth noting that Jesus didn’t go chasing after him. Jesus presented him with truth but what you do with that truth is up to you. This man was caught in the web of trying to serve both God and money. Look money is a wonderful servant but a lousy master. Either it will serve you or you will serve it. It’s good to have the things money can buy, provided you don’t lose sight of the things that money cannot buy. You see of all the people who sat at the feet of Jesus, this man is the only one who went away worse than he came. He had everything that money could buy, and yet he longed for something more. Through Jesus he came face to face with his problem, yet he still walked away. Why, because he preferred the poison of his present circumstances over the possibility of being relationally rich and free from his prison but financially poor. People do this all the time. They recognize that Jesus can satisfy all that they need, and yet they don’t want to fully follow Him by giving up that which they are serving. Like the man in the story we also want to try to add Jesus to our junk. But Jesus reminds us that it’s not just about adding Him to our lives but subtracting the distractions so that we can surrender fully to Him and serve Him freely. So what about you, are you going to walk away sad today or are you going to walk away serving the Savior?