Rich Young Ruler
Open Your Bible
Mark 10:17-31, Luke 12:16-21, Ecclesiastes 5:8-20
BY Guest Writer
Our little Jonah is Tigger personified—a bouncy and sweet, rambunctious five-year-old. That means that at our house, there’s usually some kind of ball being thrown somewhere. With our high living room ceilings, the constant air assault, and the dodging, our house can feel a lot like a middle school gym class.
One ball has always been Jonah’s favorite: a foam mini football. He threw it so often that it ripped and busted out of its fabric casing. Jonah didn’t care. He kept throwing it until it was just an oblong sphere of stuffing barely holding together. For months, he refused to throw anything else.
Throwing and bouncing and catching is Jonah’s love language. One day, I decided to embrace it full force. You know those huge bouncy balls from big box stores, the ones in bins at the end of the aisle? I got him one. I got him the biggest, 18-inch, bright red, nearly-half-his-size ball.
I didn’t think a little face could contain that much joy. He’s since played with it for hours and hours. Believe it or not, the old foam football (which we’ve since replaced with a new one) hasn’t seen much playing time lately. Nothing captures Jonah’s heart like his massive, red, bouncy ball. He didn’t know something so wonderful existed.
There was a young man in Scripture who was holding on to something tightly, yet God wanted to bless him beyond his understanding. When the rich, young ruler came to Jesus and asked Him what he needed to do to gain eternal life, he and Jesus first discussed obeying some of the Ten Commandments. The man assured Jesus that he had followed them, and Jesus didn’t disagree. Then Scripture describes a deeply beautiful moment: “Looking at him, Jesus loved him” (Mark 10:21). Oh, the eyes of our Savior, showering love on this young man. Then Jesus said:
“You lack one thing:
Go, sell all you have and give to the poor,
and you will have treasure in heaven.
Then come, follow me” (Mark 10:21).
This is the only time in the Gospels that Jesus makes such a demand of a potential disciple. Scripture tells us Peter owned a house (Matthew 8:14), so following Jesus doesn’t necessarily mean leaving behind all of our earthly possessions. So why did Jesus make such a high demand? Because He knew that the young man’s wealth had his heart—it had his heart so deeply that the thought of giving his wealth away grieved him (Mark 10:22). Jesus knew He had something in store for the young man that was far beyond what he could comprehend: Himself. And so He told the young man to let go of what was keeping him back, and to follow Him instead.
The man walked away sad. We don’t know whether or not he ever decided to follow Jesus. We only have a Polaroid snapshot of this single moment in time. I hope we’ll meet this young man in heaven one day and he’ll say, “That moment was a turning point for me. Jesus’s loving gaze undid me. So after a time, I let go—of everything—and I grabbed on to Him. I thought I was rich before, but my heart couldn’t even comprehend the depths of the riches of knowing Jesus. He is my greatest treasure.”
We know that richness, don’t we? We are those who have been looked on and loved by our Savior. May His kindness lead us to pray: Jesus, if our hearts, prone to wander, start pining after lesser treasures, may Your love undo us and call us back to You.
Laurin Greco is an author, editor, and mommy who lives in the Nashville area with her author/editor husband and her not quite author/editor three young sons. Laurin is the author of the Discover God’s Heart Devotional Bible and The Storybook of God’s Great Love: The Old Testament and The New Testament. When the house is quiet, she loves to quilt, but mostly she collects fabric for that one-day quilt she’s going to make.