Jesus and his disciples were starting on their way again. But, a young man ran up to them, and knelt down before Jesus. The disciples looked at him. The young man said, “Good teacher!” Every eye was bent on this young man. “What is he going to say to our teacher?” Then, he asked Jesus, “What should I do to inherit eternal life?” Good question! Then, the disciples turned to Jesus. The disciples were waiting for his answer. “Lord, answer him. What should he do to inherit eternal life? And, what should we do to receive the kingdom of God? What should I do to become first in your kingdom?” But, Jesus said, “Why do you call me ‘good’?” “What? . . . Is it wrong to call him ‘good’? . . . . . ” They are waiting for the next. “No one is good except God alone.” “Oh . . . Yes, God is good, . . . yes, we know. But, that’s all? . . . Nothing else to say for this young man and your disciples?” “But, . . . where is God now?” They did not understand it. The Good God is among them, before them now. But they didn’t get it. Their eyes, instead, still on Jesus whom the man called a good teacher. And Jesus kept saying, “You called me a good teacher. . . . OK. . . . Then, . .. . . I am gonna tell you. . . you know the commandments, right? Do not kill. Do not commit adultery. Do not steal. Do not swear falsely. Do not defraud. Honour your father and your mother.” “That’s it? . . . Of course! We know the law, and the commandments.” Then, they turned to the young man again. “Now it’s your turn, my friend!” “Teacher!” . . . Now, he was not calling ‘good’ and just calling ‘Teacher’. “Teacher, I have kept all of them since I was little.” “Excellent!” Yes, of course. At the moment we saw him, we knew it. He looked so faithful to the law, and so ethical person. It is Not easy to keep all the commandments. It is hard, but . . . not impossible. Yes, this young man, did it. Well done.” “Look! Our teacher is looking with love on him. And he is smiling. Yes, he loves him. Yes, of course. Why not! He had kept them all.” “Hey, my friend, . . .Then, Go in peace. Well done. The kingdom is yours. Eternal life is waiting for you there. Go in peace. Problem solved.”
“But, . . . .” Jesus said. “What? . . . Oh, no, please. Is it not enough for him and for us? Please, No but!” But, . . . it is Not finished. It’s not the end of the story. Then Jesus dropped the bomb among them. “One more thing. . . . Go, and whatever you have, sell it, and give it to the poor. . . . . Then, come and follow me.” “Oh, no!” Then, the disciples turned to the man slowly. But, he was walking away in shock and grief. “He is so faithful, ethical, and is he rich? But why? Why are you Lord not calling him back? He is God’s people indeed. Why did you say like that to him? Why did you discourage him? You need more people to support you and go together to Jerusalem.”
He has run up to Jesus in a light mood and a restless heart, but he is now walking away from him in shock and grief. He has come to Jesus in eagerness and readiness to do whatever it is required of him to do for being the part of the kingdom of God, and sharing the joy of eternal life. But, now he is going away from him in disappointment and in panic. He has come to Jesus, thinking that he could inherit eternal life. He had kept all the Law. And also, he was rich. They were living in a world where wealth, possessions, which was a sign of the people being blessed by God, and a sign of the faithful and God’s people. The man and also the disciples thought, his possessions, his status, his power, his keeping the law would qualify him for inheriting eternal life and entering the kingdom of God.
But, he is now going away in shock and in grief, not because he did not keep the Law, not because he was not ethical and pious, but because he was rich. His faithfulness to the law, and his possessions and his wealth and his moral living did not become a qualification for him to have eternal life. Instead, Jesus asked him to put down all becoming an obstacle for him to follow the God of all power and possibility.
Then, Jesus looked around at his disciples with love. But, they all kept silent. They were in shock and panic too. “Children, . . . ” Jesus called them. Yes, they are like children. They didn’t get it what was Jesus saying. How hard it is for them to understand Jesus’ saying and teaching. “Please Lord, explain us what you were saying. In fact, we have not got it what you have been saying before, on the mountain, in the boat, in the field, and on the way.” And Jesus said to them, “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.” “Then, who can be saved?” They asked. “Who can inherit eternal life? Who can enter the kingdom of God?” “For mortals it is impossible.” Jesus said to them. “Then, should we turn away in shock and grief like him?” “No! For human beings it is impossible, but not for God. For God all things are possible.”
John the Baptist heard from his disciples about what Jesus had done. He believed those things were not possible for human beings. Then, he his disciples to Jesus to ask, “Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?” And Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard. The blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have good news.” (Luke 7:18-23) God through him has made the impossible possible.
And now Jesus is saying to his disciples, “Yes, these things are impossible for you, human beings, but not for God, for me. It is not surprising that I, the Son of God, am doing among you these things. I am the Son of God, the Messiah. You do not need to turn away in grief, in disappointment, in panic. Through me, God is doing the impossible work to make all things new. It is impossible for you, but not for God, not for his Only Son.” God so loved the world that he gave his only Son (John 3:16).
And Christ loved us and handed himself over for us (Eph 5:2). And in today’s gospel, Jesus loved this man. But, the people and this young man were all preoccupied with their own thoughts, possessions, pride, and earthly attachments. However, none of them count for a thing to God. All of them make them blind to see who Jesus is, what God is doing in him, through him, among the people, making them refuse to come and follow Jesus.
The man had thought that he can push his way in by keeping the law of Moses, or by impressing God or Jesus with his eagerness and readiness to follow or his moral achievements. But, Jesus pushed it back by saying, “Go, and sell everything you have and give it to the poor. And come and follow me.” Jesus pushed it back by asking him radical obedience, radical trust, radical devotion to God, giving up what he thought that makes him powerful, strong, influential, privileged among the people, among his neighbors, and eligible to inherit the eternal life and to enter into the kingdom of heaven.
How hard it is! But, we do not need to turn away from him in shock, in grief. Jesus shows us the way we should take, and invite us to join his kingdom and to share the joy of eternal life and to be part of the new creation, saying, “Give up, put down everything your own, all possessions, all status, all power, all achievement, and all your pride and possibilities that captivate your hearts and mind and soul and spirit not to set God and Jesus first, and hold you back from following Jesus completely and entirely.
Jesus is doing among us what is impossible for us. That is why he came to us, among us. That is why he walked the way to Jerusalem, and died on the cross and rose again. And still working in us through the Sprit. In today’s gospel, Jesus is saying, “But, you need to answer, “What do you think that makes you powerful, strong, and special among the people, among your neighbors?” And ask yourselves if there is anything holding you back from following Jesus completely and entirely? Then, give it the have-not, and follow me.” Dear friends in Christ, How will you respond today?