Mark 10:17-31 (ESV)
17 And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 18 And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. 19 You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’ ” 20 And he said to him, “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.” 21 And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 22 Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. 23 And Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” 24 And the disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how difficult it is to enter the kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” 26 And they were exceedingly astonished, and said to him, “Then who can be saved?” 27 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.” 28 Peter began to say to him, “See, we have left everything and followed you.” 29 Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, 30 who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life. 31 But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”
As Jesus left the house, a man ran up to him and fell at his feet. This man was passionate and basically asked, “What can I do to be saved?” He addressed Jesus as “Good Teacher.” Jesus turned his question back into another and said, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.” Jesus showed this man there is no one who is truly “good” except God. There’s not one person who has met God’s perfect standard of righteousness, except Jesus. Every single human who stands before God without Christ in the judgment will be found guilty. Jesus wanted the man to understand that no matter how many moral things he had done or would do, he would never be saved by his own “goodness.” Jesus then listed some of the Ten Commandments, and the man proclaimed he had obeyed all of these his entire life. We can think about how self-righteous the man was to declare he had always kept the law. But in verse 21, we see a different response from Jesus, who looked at him and loved him. Jesus saw a man who bore the image of God desperately seeking advice, and Jesus felt compassion for him. So Jesus told the man to give his possessions to the poor and follow him. But the man went away sad. Jesus knew this man loved wealth more than God, and Jesus’ request revealed the man’s heart.
It is strange that Jesus didn’t run after the man and say, “It’s okay. You’re fine. We can work on full surrender later.” Instead, Jesus told his disciples it would be easier for a huge camel to go through the tiny eye of a sewing needle than for a rich man like this one to enter the kingdom of heaven. We too must recognize that we have not met God’s righteous requirement for human life. And we too must turn from living for ourselves to following Jesus. The man was “disheartened” (v. 22), which means he was saddened or even shocked. He wasn’t ready to make Jesus the source of his trust instead of his wealth. What about you? Is your confidence in your possessions or in Jesus? If your response isn’t “Jesus,” then turn to him with an open heart and open hands today. If you are afraid, ask him for help. All things are possible with God.