I MET JESUS: A rich man (Mark 10:17-31)

If you could ask God just one question, what would it be?

We had a fab morning today looking at what happened when a rich young man met Jesus and asked HIS question...

Read the story here!  Mark 10:17-31

The rich man asks Jesus, "What must I do to inherit eternal life?" 

It's actually a silly question if you realise who Jesus is and why he came.  It's not the desire-for-eternal-life bit that's silly.  That's actually a God-given instinct we all have.  The Bible says God has "set eternity in the hearts of men" (Ecclesiastes 3:11).  No, it's the "What must I do..." bit that's silly.  This rich man thinks he's good enough to deserve to live with God forever!  That's what makes it a silly question.

Like a bunch of grannies asking what they need to do to fly to the moon.

 Or a dog that wants to go to university.

 Or a baby that wants to build a nuclear reactor!

Ridiculous.  And yet...

The rich guy, like a lot of people in rich countries like ours, thinks he has no need of God and that he's plenty good enough without him. 

He's wrong.

That's why Jesus cleverly responds with a question: "Why do you call me good?  No-one is good but God."

Hint, hint.  But the guy doesn't get it.

"You just have to keep ALL the commandments", Jesus says.  With a raised eyebrow I imagine.

"Yup.  Dunnit.", the guys replies.  Still not getting it.

Then Jesus says, "One thing you lack..."  I love the irony here.  He says "one thing you LACK" to the guy who had EVERYTHING! 

Jesus tells him to sell everything and give the money to the poor.  And the guy goes away sad because he had great wealth.

So what's the lesson here?  Does Jesus really mean, "One thing you lack, rich guy... Just give away your wealth to the poor and THEN you'll really be good enough to get eternal life!"???

No.  This CAN'T be what Jesus means.  He's already said that no-one is truly good except God alone.  Yet this guy thinks he's up the the task.  No.

The one thing this guy lacks is the HUMILITY to realise he's a sinner like everyone else - and in need of forgiveness and help from God.

I think when Jesus tells him to go and sell everything, it's like he's saying (lovingly), "Ok rich guy - try THIS on for size....!!!"  He's hoping that the rich guy will go away sad but then realise the silliness of his question because he CAN'T do his way into heaven, he CAN'T save himself and that he really DOES need help from someone who is actually and truly and perfectly GOOD!  Maybe Jesus is hoping the guy would come back later and ask a much better question...

"Jesus, what can YOU DO to give me eternal life with you?"

Now that's a MUCH better question to ask!