We Were There When

Yesterday I talked about the encounter of the rich young man with Jesus from the point of view of a preacher who is making a point. As Eoin so aptly pointed out in the comments, the story goes much deeper into emotional response of both Jesus to the man and the man to Jesus.

Sit in contemplation and cast yourself back to the scene.

We are crowded around Jesus as we follow him through the villages and along the countryside. There are perhaps a couple of hundred of us. We give Jesus a little space, but we have this deep need to be close enough to hear what he says and see what he does.

A young man approaches. We let him through. He is apparently a seeker. About him is the appearance of wealth and the confidence that comes from a comfortable upbringing. Yet, there also is a sense that he is troubled.

Jesus sees him. But Jesus never just “sees” someone. He doesn’t look at you; he looks into people. He sees through facade. He sees the heart.

He stops, gives the young man his complete attention with appearance deeper than welcoming, acceptance–it was that look of deep compassion and love he had for true spiritual seekers.

“What must I do to have eternal life?” the man asked.

Good question. All of us were asking the same question.

Jesus gave him the standard rabbi answers about following the commandments. The young man said he had, yet still he lacked assurance of eternal life.

Jesus said that he still had something missing. He must give away all his wealth to the poor and then come and join us as we followed Jesus. And the man was crushed. He lowered his head, returned to his entourage, and left.

We all gasped. What? Isn’t wealth a sign of God’s blessing? What does this mean?

Even one of the leaders asked Jesus what we were all thinking–if a rich person doesn’t automatically have eternal life, who can?

Jesus told us that it is hard. But that we should just follow him. Yes, wasn’t that his constant invitation? Isn’t that what we all had done? We’ve left everything behind to follow this man.

Yet, we still were thinking about Jesus, “Just who is this man?”

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