Where Your Heart Is

A rich young man came to Jesus. He was obviously troubled in spirit. But why? He was young and rich. What more could you want?

“How can I inherit eternal life?”

Ah, we learn right away that wealth does not bestow on us the assurance of a full life. The kind of life Jesus always talked about.

Well, you know the rules (commandments) don’t you?

“Yes, I have followed them all since my youth.”

Jesus did not reprimand him for pride, so he must have been a sincere rule follower.

We should pause here in the story.

What is eternal life? We know from the Gospel of John where Jesus says in a prayer, “And this is eternal life that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” Eternal life, then, begins at the moment that we know God.

This man had wealth and he diligently lived according to the rules handed down from the time of Moses. And he did not have eternal life–or else he would not have asked.

We know from this that the way to eternal life does not lie in either wealth or in following the laws.

How many of our churches teach that very thing? Remember the “prosperity gospel” from the 80s? “If you become a Christian, you’ll become wealthy.” Vestiges of this gospel survive.

How many churches say, “If you follow all the rules such that we can see it, then we will accept you into fellowship and call you a Christian”?

Back to the story. Why did Luke add this story to his narrative? What group were Jesus’s biggest adversaries? The Pharisees. What did they teach? Follow the rules and you’ll be saved.

What was Jesus’s response to the young man?

Go and sell all your possessions, give the money to the poor, come and follow me.

The man could not do that.

Why, we may ask. It’s not the wealth (which preachers usually discuss). What is Jesus always interested in? The status of your heart. Where was this man’s heart? Tied up in his wealth.

He went away saddened. He now knew the way to eternal life and couldn’t change his heart to live it. We could hope that one day he realized the problem and changed.

Where is your heart today? Honestly, now, are we caught up in rules or is our heart in following Jesus.

2 Responses to “Where Your Heart Is”

  1. Eoin Ó Riain (@ReadoutSignpost) Says:

    I think that the most touching moment of this story is Jesus very first reaction before he said anythings – “Jesus looked at him and loved him….” I think it is a highly significant sentence.

    I’m not sure if we have another moment of such personal intensity directly described in the Gospel. Maybe outside the grave of Lazarus or that moment when he said “Mary” to Magdalen in the garden on the morning of the Resurrection.

    The sadness of the young man as he went away is also very moving. How often have I done the same myself? Mea culpa!

    • Gary Mintchell Says:

      Good thoughts, Eoin. Jesus could really look right through your facade into the heart. In this encounter, Jesus had empathy and both were saddened.

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