The Gospel of Mark shares a story of a rich, young man who asks Jesus what he has to do to receive eternal life. In this parable, versions of which are also found in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, the young man approaches Jesus, demonstrating respect by kneeling to him and referring to him as “Good Teacher”. The young man communicates a clear understanding that Jesus is someone worthy of honor and respect. His words also reveal a lack of fully understanding who Jesus was, is and will always be.
Claiming to have kept all of the Mosaic Law since childhood and being wealthy, the young man seems to feel he has a right to receive the gift of eternal life. If not him, who? He sees getting into Heaven something that can be earned, achieved, and obtained through living a good life, being successful, and having knowledge. When Jesus, looking at him with love, challenged him to get rid of all his possessions and follow Him, the young man dropped his head, unable to commit to God’s call on His life and walked away, unwilling to follow Jesus.
The young man believed he was worthy of receiving eternal life. Nothing could be further from the truth. None of us are worthy of God’s grace. However, through sending Jesus to atone for our sins, God demonstrates His belief that we are worth it. Scripture repeatedly shows us that the Lord is a personal God who desires an intimate, close relationship with the people He has created. Through the precious shed blood of Jesus Christ on the Cross at Calvary, God removed all obstacles keeping us from a relationship with Him. Yet, like the rich, young man in our parable, many of us decide we can not give up our worldly identity and follow Jesus.
What we believe about Jesus matters.
Through His Son, God gave us the ultimate gift of love. By His actions, Jesus demonstrated that He is worthy of our worship. Through the Holy Spirit, we can grow in relationship with Christ, in the process, drawing nearer to the Father. Honestly, our relationship with Jesus is the most important thing about us because what we believe informs our decision-making and directs our problem-solving. Our faith determines our response to the trials and tribulations we experience in this lost and fallen world.
For the young man in our parable, his worldly possessions kept him from worshiping Jesus. What personal gods are keeping you from worshipping Jesus today?
Don’t leave Jesus sitting on the shelf like an unopened gift. Repent and believe in the Lord. Worship Jesus.
Father, forgive us for not worshiping you with all our heart, all our mind, and all our soul. We know that you are God alone and there is no other path to you except through placing our faith and trust in your Son, Jesus Christ. Help us remove our individual distractions so that we might draw closer to You by turning our eyes upon Jesus and not relying on our own strength but rather depending on the power of Your Holy Spirit dwelling in us. We pray this in the name of Jesus. Amen.