Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, "Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?" "Why do you ask me about what is good?" Jesus replied. "There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments." "Which ones?" he inquired. Jesus replied, "'You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother,' and 'love your neighbor as yourself.'" "All these I have kept," the young man said. "What do I still lack?" Jesus answered, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me." When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth. Matthew 19:16-22
The young man began with the right question: How can I have eternal life? Inherent in his query was a desire for the eternal. He longed to live beyond himself and sought the right person for counsel. It's hard to find fault with his credentials. Murder, adultery, theft, and lying were appropriately absent in his life. He had treated his parents with respect and honor. He had reached out to his neighbors. If I'm Jesus, I'm saying, "Let's ditch the fishermen, tax collector, and zealot. Follow me. Let's go change the world!" But Jesus, always able to peer deep into the messy heart, saw a clogged spiritual artery--a little problem with the god of money. When Jesus pinpointed the issue, the rich young man dropped his head and walked away from the Giver of eternal life.
I wonder what happened to that young man. If he continued on the journey away from Jesus, by all human accounts he lived a rich, full life. I am sure he and his beautiful wife lived in the big house on prime property barely visible from the road. He gave his kids everything they wanted, including the best education available. He traveled to exotic places, stayed in extravagant hotels, and ate exquisite foods. The cars he drove were the envy of many. He continued to make money. It seemed everything that he touched turned to gold. Financial advisors drooled to have him as a client. He retired in luxury to a beautiful island, spending his days swinging in a hammock, fanned by servants and fed grapes the size of tangerines. Yet people wondered why there was such sadness in his eyes.
He had everything ... and nothing ... at the same time. And then one day, the sad old man died. They said he experienced a rich, full life ... as he experienced an empty, hellish eternity. He gained the world and lost his soul.
Father, help us not make the same mistake as the rich young ruler. May we be willing to give up anything ... everything ... for You. In Jesus' name. Amen.