Making the Impossible Possible
When He had traveled on, a young man came and knelt in the dust of the road in front of Jesus.
Young Man: Good Teacher! What must I do to gain life in the world to come?
Jesus: You are calling Me good?
Don’t you know that God and God alone is good? Anyway, why ask Me that question? You know the Commandments of Moses: “Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not slander, do not defraud, and honor your father and mother.
”Young Man: Yes, Teacher, I have done all these since I was a child. Then Jesus, looking at the young man, saw that he was sincere and responded out of His love for him.
Jesus: Son, there is still one thing you have not done. Go now. Sell everything you have and give the proceeds to the poor so that you will have treasure in heaven. After that, come, follow Me. The young man went away sick at heart at these words because he was very wealthy,
– Mark 10:17-20
In this encounter, Jesus is saying that there is something radically wrong with all of us—but money and status has particular power to blind us to it.
In fact, it has so much power to deceive us of our true spiritual state that we need a gracious, miraculous intervention from God to see it. It’s impossible without God, without a miracle.
Consider how Jesus counseled this young man. Yes, this man needed counseling, though on the outside he looked completely pulled together. He was rich, he was young, and he was probably good-looking—it’s hard to be rich and young and not be good-looking. But he didn’t have it all together. If he had, he would never have come to Jesus and asked, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?”
Any devout Jew would have known the answer to this question. The rabbis were always posing this question in their writings and their teachings. And their answer was always the same; there were no differing schools of thought on this one. The answer was “Obey the statutes of God and avoid all sin.” The young man would have known this answer.
Why then was he asking Jesus?
Jesus’s perceptive statement “One thing you lack” allows us to capture the gist of the young man’s struggle. The man was saying, “You know what, I’ve done everything right: I’ve been successful economically, successful socially, successful morally, successful religiously. I’ve heard you’re a good rabbi, and I’m wondering if there’s something I’ve missed, something I’m overlooking. I sense that something is lacking.”
Of course he was missing something. Because anyone who counts on what they are doing to get eternal life will find that, in spite of everything they’ve accomplished, there’s an emptiness, an insecurity, a doubt. Something is bound to be missing. How can anyone ever know whether they are good enough?☆
Excerpt from JESUS THE KING by Timothy Keller
We can read this story and if we do not happen to be young, rich, or attractive dismiss it as not applicable.
But the truth is the “thing he was lacking” is the thing all of us are lacking in some way.
For the rich young man it was a lack of understanding that all his accomplishments were self-serving and mostly involved what would enhance his reputation.
For those of us who are less successful, some feeling we are broken beyond repair, not worthy, it is a lack of understanding that we can never be good enough.
In either case whether we have everything to give away or nothing, the only way we can find and be sure of salvation, eternal life is to give wholeheartedly the one thing we can give.
When we do this everything else will follow.
And that is good enough.