How would you answer that question?
Would it be anything like the way that Jesus does?
Jesus talks to him about keeping the commandments such as not murdering or committing adultery as well as not stealing or lying. The man states confidently that he has kept all these and then Jesus replies; “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.” (Mark 10.21)
So I’m reading this and am wondering why Jesus seems to give the wrong answer?
The Bible is clear that our sin separates us from God but that Jesus died to take our sin upon himself and that he came back to life which demonstrates that he has defeated sin and death. We inherit eternal life by thanking Jesus for what he has done and trusting in him for our salvation. We ask his forgiveness and we turn away from our sin and instead choose to follow him as our Lord.
If that is the answer, why does Jesus say something different?
Have you ever been criticised by other Christians for giving the wrong answer? If you have, your in good company because they probably would have criticised Jesus as well. I think some Christians would be upset if anyone other than Jesus let someone who was seeking eternal life walk away without leading them into salvation.
So what is going on here?
1. I think that Jesus was challenging the man’s belief that he could be good enough to save himself. ‘All these I have done’ was his statement but Jesus reminds him that there is still one thing he hadn’t done. The Bible says we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3.23). If you were jumping across a river, it wouldn’t matter if you missed the far bank narrowly or by a long way, you still would have fallen short and you would be very wet.
Unless we come to Jesus, willing to accept that we need a saviour then we cannot be saved by him.
2. I think that Jesus is challenging the man’s belief that he could gain eternal life without cost. Jesus needed to be his Lord, not money and this is especially challenging to us in the money obsessed west. Can we really say that Jesus is more important to us than money?
Unless we come to Jesus, willing for him to be our King then we cannot be saved by him.
3. I think that Jesus is giving the man space to work things out for himself. We like to give clear answers that people might not be ready for but Jesus often asked challenging questions instead.
Unless we come to Jesus, willing for him to ask us questions of us then we cannot be saved by him.
What about us?
Do we recognize that we need a saviour?
Do we recognize that we need a king?
What would Jesus say is the one (or many?) thing(s) that we still have to do?
What questions does Jesus want to ask us? What does he want to challenge us about?
The next time someone doesn’t give the full answer you would have done, will you criticize them or remember this occasion when Jesus appears to give the wrong answer?