Saturday in the Twenty-First Week of Ordinary Time

Matthew 19:16-22; Mark 10:17-22; Luke 18:18-23

But He Was Such a Nice Guy

People often think that Jesus received everyone who came to him, but today we see this is simply not true.  We must understand the cost of following Jesus.  And remember that we are not dealing here with a parable, but an actual event.

This man, whom we call the “rich young ruler,” seems to be an ordinary guy, certainly better than most.  He comes running up to Jesus, kneels, and asks, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”  Jesus, who has no time for our flattering social conventions, informs him that only One is truly good.  (We must remember that when Jesus was in the body, he was in his humble state and referred all glory to the Father.)  At any rate, Jesus directs the man to the commandments, primarily the “second table,” which refers to how we should treat other people.  The man responds that he has kept all of these from his youth.  We need not accuse this man of lying; he no doubt means that he has kept these commandments in his actions towards others.  He can honestly say that he has never committed adultery, stolen, falsely accused someone else, and has honored his parents.  Matthew adds that Jesus said, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”  Again, even in affirming this, we need not think the man claiming to be perfect, but only that he generally behaves with kindness towards other people.

Then Mark writes that Jesus looked at this man with love.  Jesus was not angry with this man or mocking him; instead he knew exactly where to touch him in the place that would strip him of all of his assumed goodness and social standing.  I want to emphasize that this was not a “bad” guy.  The fact is that he is like most of us, only for some reason faring a little better, having inherited his money or worked hard at his profession.  Indeed, I think he is exactly like most people, a man just getting along in life who wants to do good and hopefully get to heaven.  So how to do this?  Well, in the midst of the nice clothes and talk, Jesus meets his hypocrisy head on: You’re addicted to your possessions; you just don’t know it because you assume that you are so, well, okay.  Let’s see about that: Sell everything you’ve worked hard to get, give it to the poor, and come follow me.  Then you will have treasure in heaven.  And in one fell swoop, all of this man’s pretenses, all of the nice things he thought about himself, come crashing down.  He can’t do this.  This is asking too much.  And in walking away, he proves Jesus’ words: he was not the nice man he thought himself to be, nor was he ready to inherit eternal life.  So what is it that blinds us to our pretenses?

Author: The Reformed Baptist

My name is Stephen Taylor, ordained Baptist minister of eighteen years pastoral experience with a Ph.D. in Historical Theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Better than that, I am married to a godly woman, Karla, who has been very patient with me since 1989. I have two daughters, both of whom I homeschooled for extended periods of time, who became godly young women, and who ran off and married godly young men, all of which is very proper. The oldest daughter has even seen fit to bless me with a grandson and a granddaughter, and my youngest daughter with a grandson, all three of whom are bundles of exceeding joy. As you can see, I am quite blessed. This website is dedicated to helping people grow in the wisdom and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ through the gift of writing that the Lord has given to me. It is specifically about helping His people grow in godliness, the theme you see repeated above. I write devotions with this aim and hope that they might be of some help to God’s people. Full disclosure: I am of a Reformed bent, meaning that my understanding of Scripture is primarily informed by the Reformers and their successors of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. However, as a student of church history and theology, I strive to remain true to that teaching handed down once for all unto the saints through every age of the Church. I like to think of myself as a “catholic” Christian, as the Reformers thought of themselves. At any rate, feel free to read, pray, and contact me if you wish, or correct me if need be. As you can see, I tend to follow the church year. Of course, I make no special claims about these devotions. I know very well that others have written better and plumbed the depths of God’s word with greater insight. But if my musings help someone draw closer to the Lord, well then, I have my reward. Blessings to you and may the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ speak to you that word which He knows you especially need to hear. Grace & peace, Stephen Taylor

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