In Mark 10 there is a character that we don’t have a name for…only three descriptions…
These descriptions are not all found in one place, however. All the Gospels call him Rich, but only Matthew 19:20 denotes that he is Young. And, only in Luke 18:18 do we discover that he is a Ruler.
Rich. He had affluence.
Young. He had achievement.
Ruler. He had authority.
I want to make some comments about the first descriptor only: RICH. To be an officer in the synagogue meant that this young man was required to have considerable wealth. He had affluence and position, but was wondering if it’s enough for eternal life.
Are riches the ultimate goal of happiness and spiritual contentment?
I remember a young guy named Nick saying, “When I got out of school I made a list of everything I thought I would need to be happy. Now it’s fifteen years later and I have everything on my list, but I’m still not happy. I just realized I made up the wrong list.”
When Jesus told the man to give everything he had to the poor, he knew it would be going right to the heart of the matter. That’s why Jesus said it is “easier for a camel to go through the eye of the needle than a rich man to get into heaven.”
Jesus was using a well-known example. You see, at night, there was one gate open into the city of Jerusalem. The locals called it “the eye of the needle.” It was very small so that it could be easily guarded against attackers. A person simply couldn’t get through it with a fully-loaded camel, so he would have to leave the possessions outside the gate in order to get through.
People of that day were taught that riches were the ultimate mark of blessing from God. Too many within the modern church still believe this. The “prosperity gospel” is alive and kicking. Unfortunately, it’s not WHAT YOU HAVE that gets you into heaven or denotes God’s ultimate blessing. I believe Jesus was expressing quite the contrary: what are you willing to GIVE UP? He pressed the young guy to sell it all, give the proceeds to the poor and follow him.
That’s tough stuff. Jesus knew how to get to the heart of the matter with our rich young ruler.
Will you allow Jesus to get to the heart of the matter with YOU? What are you willing to give up? Does your life feel like a “fully-loaded camel” that needs to be unpacked? Have you made up the wrong list regarding happiness?