At our stewardship luncheon, one person mentioned how she thought Jesus was unfair to the rich man when he told him to “Go and sell all that you have, give the money to the poor, and come follow me.” Mark 10:17-31 “Are we supposed to do that?” she asked.
I think what’s important to remember is that the rich man is the one who initiated the conversation. Jesus didn’t go up to him and judging him tell him to get rid of everything. The rich man had followed the ten commandments since he was young and was wondering what he must do to inherit eternal life. He wanted to go deeper with God; he wanted to grow in his faith; and so, he asked and Jesus answered.
I suppose that means that if you don’t want to find yourself in the rich man’s position – don’t ask Jesus questions such as: “What does it mean to follow you?” “How can I have that promised abundant life?”
A life of faith is a funny thing. Faith is a gift but then the gift can get bigger and broader and deeper the more we release ourselves, our loved ones, and all that we have into God’s hands. Truth be told—we don’t do that very readily. We are most often forced into relying on God when something happens and we know we on our own are not enough.
It comes back to that courageous trust – can we let go of what we cling to in order to cling to God? The rich man couldn’t even though he was sad about it; he just couldn’t release the grip he had on his stuff or was it the grip his stuff had on him?
But the part that always stands out for me in this text that gives me hope is that it says that Jesus loved him. I always picture Jesus’ loving gaze following him as he walked away. And of course, Jesus’ love is not a benign, passive presence. Jesus’ love is an active, transformative power that grabs hold of us and works its way into our hearts and minds. It catches us up and begins to change us – first, inside and then, out.
I always imagine that that love of Jesus follows the rich man and opens him up in deeper and broader and bigger ways. I imagine that power of Jesus’ love releasing the rich man’s grip on his things so that he begins to release them and take hold of Jesus instead. I imagine one day the rich man showing up again, “Jesus, I did it; I sold all that I had, gave the money to the poor, and am here, now, ready to follow you.”
– Pastor Dianne