He had everything. You wouldn’t want to have to buy him a Christmas present!
He stood there facing Jesus with a neatly trimmed beard. Bejeweled fingers. An aroma of sweet spicy oil emanated from him. A robe of royal purple with a blue fringe at the bottom fit him perfectly. Gold chains hung from his neck.
Jesus wore a plain but seamless tan robe. His left sandal was broken, and a leather strap trailed in the dust as he walked toward this elegant stranger.
The Lord smiled at him, recognizing the dress of wealth and authority. Mark’s version of this story tells us poignantly that Jesus, “looking at him, loved him.”
“What good thing must you do to have eternal life?” Jesus repeated to the young man. His face was smooth. No gray in his hair or beard. They were both young men.
Jesus tried to deflect the question by inserting a philosophical examination of absolute good, a search that would inevitably lead to God.
“Have you observed the Decalogue?” Jesus inquired. “Oh, yes! Since I was just a lad,” he answered.
“Well, you just need to do one more thing,” Jesus said. “Get rid of your wealth by giving it to the poor, and come be my disciple. That will do it!”
“Really?” he said as a frown beclouded his countenance. He averted his gaze from Jesus to the ground. For a minute he seemed to be calculating in his mind. Then, without another word, he slowly pivoted and walked away.
Jesus had a look of ineffable sadness as he brushed a tear from his eye and left the scene.
I am going to preach on this well-worn story from the life of our Lord this Sunday. The real problem here is not the arrogance of the upper crust of wealth and power. I have got to convince us that we are the “rich young rulers” of the world. Two per cent of the world’s people own half the wealth. Most of it is in America.
This story is about us!