Read Mark 10:17-22
17 As Jesus was starting out on his way to Jerusalem, a man came running up to him, knelt down, and asked, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
18 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus asked. “Only God is truly good. 19 But to answer your question, you know the commandments: ‘You must not murder. You must not commit adultery. You must not steal. You must not testify falsely. You must not cheat anyone. Honor your father and mother.’”
20 “Teacher,” the man replied, “I’ve obeyed all these commandments since I was young.”
21 Looking at the man, Jesus felt genuine love for him. “There is still one thing you haven’t done,” he told him. “Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
22 At this the man’s face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions. (NLT)
We might wonder what Jesus might say to us if we asked him the question this man asked Jesus. It would be a mistake to assume Jesus tells all and sundry to give away all they have. Possessions in themselves are not bad: let’s face it, if we gave away all we had to others those others would have to give back to us to let us go on living. And they too would be in danger of succumbing to the snare of possessions.
Jesus has the knack of putting his finger on what the real issue is in people’s lives. Here the issues were twofold. One is the issue of material possessions. It is plain this man had an excessive attachment to them. They were weighing him down. He truly wanted eternal life but even more, truly wanted to keep his wealth.
And the other issue is one of morality. He seems to be pretty sure he has kept all the commandments, which is a pretty big assumption. Perhaps he was one of those people who think keeping the rules is all there is to morality. He was taking pride in his rule-keeping. But morality is not merely about avoiding evil, it is about doing good.
Despite Jesus’ love for him, the man went away sad. Which leaves us wondering that if Jesus were to put the finger on what is keeping us from wholehearted devotion to him, what would the issue be? Would we respond to his loving if painful command, or would we go away sad?