Riches v. Riches
By Debbonnaire Kovacs, posted October 7, 2015
Based on Mark 10:17ff
I arranged my travel bag more comfortably. All around me, the others were picking up staffs, arranging mantles, and stuffing last items into bags. Jesus would head out any minute, and I wanted to be right beside him.
Where? Who knows? Nobody ever knows where Jesus is going next, or what he’ll do, for that matter.
This guy ran up so suddenly, I almost tripped over him. He fell to his knees in front of Jesus. I figured it was a healing, but it must not be for himself—he looked young and strong.
“Good teacher,” he said earnestly, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
If I were to answer, I would just say, “Get up and come with us!”
But Jesus looked at him with that spark in his eye. I knew that look: watch out–challenge on the way! He said, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone.”
The man stared, but I couldn’t help grinning. I could have told him. Jesus has this gift for answering the part you were ignoring, before the question you really asked.
While he was still staring, Jesus went on in a voice I thought sounded suddenly tender, as if this were his younger brother. “You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; You shall not defraud; Honor your father and mother.'”
The kid’s eyes lit up. He knew this part; he’d recited it in shul his whole life. I almost shook my head, as he said as eagerly as before, “Teacher, I have kept all these since my youth.”
Jesus looked him over. I did, too, wondering what the Teacher saw. Young, strong, healthy, and well-dressed. Clearly, this man and his family had been honored by the Holy One, blessed be he.
I was startled into looking back at Jesus, not just by what he said, but by what almost sounded like a tiny choke in his voice. “You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.”
The young man’s face went pale. His smile faded, and the light died out of his eyes. I was a little shocked myself, though you’d think I’d know by now that Jesus never sees the world the way anybody else does.
My eyes moved between the face of the questioner and the face of Jesus. It seemed that Jesus was holding his breath; I found I was, too.
The young man’s gaze dropped away from Jesus. Slowly, he got to his feet. When he looked up again, I almost said something. I don’t know what—“Please, please!” was what, foolishly, came to mind.
The man turned away.
I am telling you the truth: I felt Jesus sag in disappointment.
After a silent few seconds, he stirred and looked around as if remembering we were there. Quietly, he said, “How hard it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!”
We all pretty much broke into bewildered babble, but he spoke again, repeating himself more emphatically, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”
I gulped. “Well, then…who can be saved?”
Jesus smiled at us. “For mortals it is impossible, but not for God; for God all things are possible.”
I was next to him, and I saw. He looked after the back of the young man who was moving farther and farther away, and I heard him murmur, “All things. All things.”
I looked after the guy myself. And I wondered…maybe someday…