“Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me.” But he was sad at this word, and went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.” Mark 10:21-22
Can great worldly possessions cause sorrow? A wealthy young ruler’s encounter with Christ left him grieving because of the choice he made.
At the outset, he came running to Jesus, knelt by Him, and asked what he must do to inherit eternal life. Here was a man who seemed to possess everything in life: he was noble and excellent, and yet he felt that something was missing. There was this concept of eternal life which gave him a curious desire to attain. He sensed the urgency. He came running.
He asked the right question, but when Jesus gave him the answer, he walked away. Why did he give up his pursuit of eternal life?
He expected Christ to confirm his own preconceived notions about the Kingdom of God. The Lord demolished his understanding. Attaining eternal life is not simply a matter of following God’s commandments; it demanded something else. Christ probed into the very depths and center of his being and exposed his real dilemma: his trust in riches, his pride and confidence in them.
”Give it away”, says Christ, “and let me decide.” The kingdom of God must be entered Christ’s way. It is a radical transformation, the way of the cross, of following in Christ’s footsteps.
He did not like Christ’s answer. He walked away, deciding to hold on to his possessions and the life he was accustomed to. But in leaving, he was sorrowful. A deep heaviness engulfed him as he opted for worldly riches over eternal life, as he walked away from Christ.
Judas turned his back on Christ and was filled with such remorse and sorrow that he took his own life. To abandon Christ is spiritual suicide, to turn away from eternal life, from the only one who can give true riches, happiness, joy and peace.
Oh do not walk away from Christ! If you leave Him, you will have left your last and only hope, and nothing else remains but grief and eternal unhappiness. Run towards Him, embrace Him, and never let Him go.
*** Reference: Martyn Lloyd-Jones, “The Kingdom of God”, Crossway Books, Wheaton, Illinois, 2010, pp. 155-172.
*** Photography: After Sunset by Andrew Koksharov