If you had one question to ask Jesus, what would it be? Some might ask him about evil in the world and why he allows it to continue. Others might ask about their future. What would you ask?
The scriptures record an account of a person who had the opportunity to ask Jesus a question. As you read Matthew’s account of that interaction, try to imagine yourself in the situation. Try to hear Jesus saying these words. Imagine yourself hearing and responding to his answer.
16 Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”
Before you read any further, think about how you would answer that same question. How does a person get eternal life? Do they say a prayer? Do they put their faith in Jesus? Some other way?
Now, listen to how Jesus answers…
17 “Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.”
Wait, Jesus just claimed that we enter life by keeping the commands. That doesn’t sound like the answer many of us would give – or the answer other parts of the Bible suggest. The man asks for clarification. He wants to know how many of the commands he has to follow.
18 “Which ones?” he inquired. Jesus replied, “‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, 19 honor your father and mother,’ and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’”
Taking Jesus’ words at face value, the man thinks he is good. He assumes that he has accomplished what Jesus asks of him. How does Jesus’ answer sit with you? What type of emotions does it stir up in you?
20 “All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?” 21 Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
Now Jesus gets to the punch line. Sell everything and follow. It’s a calling to surrender his deepest love. Essentially, Jesus calls the man not just to live a few of the 10 Commandments, he calls him to submit to them all. Selling everything he owns and following is an application of the first command, “you shall have no other gods before me.”
22 When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.
Jesus is making you the same offer today, but it comes with the same demand. “Follow me!” Jesus’ call to follow does not discard the Old Testament scriptures, it applies them and takes them to new and greater horizons designed to move us to new and greater life.
By Ryan Paulson