Some people came to Jesus with needs that could not be hidden: blindness, leprosy, a crutch or a withered hand. Others came with diseases hidden away.
He has come to be called the Rich Young Ruler. His clothes were new and they were well made. He carried with him an air of importance. People made way for him because it just seemed the proper thing to do. It was as if people could read his impressive resume just by the way he moved.
Why was he following Jesus?
Perhaps he had seen the miracles but he did not need one. Surely he had heard the amazing things Jesus said for he had already made up his mind about Jesus—He was a good teacher, no, a great teacher. If he had been following Jesus from place to place, he may have seen Him bless the children.
Jesus and Children
The young man noted that children reacted to Jesus in a much different way than to him. He was puzzled by this. In the past he had filled his bag with treats and the children would take them and get away as soon as possible. Why? They were different with Jesus. All He gave them was a smile and gentle touch yet they were drawn to Him, laughing and playing as if they had known Him all their short lives. Why? When His disciples tried to shoo the children away, he saw Jesus put His hands on them and bless them.
“Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.”
It was like a knife to his heart. What? Children? Surely eternal life would be given to the important people of this world, not to children?
Puzzled, the young man kept on following Jesus. He wasn’t a leper and he wasn’t blind or deaf. He certainly wasn’t poor so what was this need in his heart? Why was he drawn to Jesus, a poor carpenter with no standing, no influence, with nothing to offer a rich young ruler, except perhaps an end to the secret ache in his heart? Without thinking the question popped from his mouth.
“Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?”
As impressed as he was with Jesus, he still could not call Him great. Jesus deflected his question with a question of His own and then a challenge to keep the commandments. The young man wanted details but he was confident he had overlooked nothing in this matter. Jesus gave him the list. There was nothing new there so the young man reported what everybody already knew.
“All these things I have kept from my youth.”
Jesus lowered His eyes at this report and studied the dust on the road. After an uncomfortable moment, the young man pressed the issue.
“What do I still lack?”
Jesus lifted His head and met the man’s eyes with a slight smile.
“If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”
The gaze of Jesus into the man’s soul never wavered. Suddenly the man’s new clothes did not fit so well. He felt naked in front of the crowd. Children laughed at him and even as Jesus continued to look at him, the young man turned and walked away.
Pride is an unseen disease but it devastates the best of people.
Then little children were brought to Him that He might put His hands on them and pray, but the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” And He laid His hands on them and departed from there. Now behold, one came and said to Him, “Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?” So He said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.” He said to Him, “Which ones?” Jesus said, “‘You shall not murder,’ ‘You shall not commit adultery,’ ‘You shall not steal,’ ‘You shall not bear false witness,’ ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'” The young man said to Him, “All these things I have kept from my youth. What do I still lack?” Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.
James 4:6 NKJV
But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.”
Jesus, You are a great Teacher. Your Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light for my path. I have no righteousness of my own to offer You. Lord, save me from self-importance. Deliver me from pride. Clothe me with humility so that others may see You in me. Help me be like those children who were drawn to You, not in fear, but in joy. Lord Jesus, fill all the holes in my heart! Satisfy my hidden hungers. I am unworthy it is true, but as the song says, “a pauper, I walk with the King!” Thank You, Lord! Amen.
Words and Music: Vep Ellis
1. Unworthy am I of the grace that He gave,
Unworthy to hold to His hand;
Amazed that a King would reach down to a slave,
This love I cannot understand.
Unworthy, unworthy, a beggar;
In bondage and alone;
But He made me worthy and now by His grace,
His mercy has made me His own.
2. My sorrow and sickness laid stripes on His back,
My sins caused the blood that was shed;
My faults and my failures have woven a crown
Of thorns, that He wore on His head.
3. Unworthy am I of the glory to come,
Unworthy with angels to sing;
I thrill just to know that He loved me so much,
A pauper, I walk with the King
© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved
TheJesusStory devotions are also found at KingdomWinds.com.