17 As he was setting out on a journey, a man ran up and knelt before him, and asked him, "Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?" 18 Jesus said to him, "Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. 19 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.'" 20 He said to him, "Teacher, I have kept all these since my youth." 21 Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, "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." 22 When he heard this, he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions.
23 Then Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, "How hard it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!" 24 And the disciples were perplexed at these words. But Jesus said to them again, "Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! 25 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." 26 They were greatly astounded and said to one another, "Then who can be saved?" 27 Jesus looked at them and said, "For mortals it is impossible, but not for God; for God all things are possible."
28 Peter began to say to him, "Look, we have left everything and followed you." 29 Jesus said, "Truly I tell you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields, for my sake and for the sake of the good news, 30 who will not receive a hundredfold now in this age - houses, brothers and sisters, mothers and children, and fields with persecutions - and in the age to come eternal life. 31 But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first."
“He went away sorrowful; for he had great possessions.”
We typically read this story with the assumption that the rich man is sorrowful because he won’t sell his possessions, but sometimes I wonder.
The story doesn’t necessarily say that. Could it be that the man grieves precisely because he intends to obey? Perhaps he knows exactly who Jesus is, and he intends to follow the command. He’s been told to give away his “stuff,” and it’s not easy. Giving is tough. Obedience is tough. He grieves the loss of his favorite things. He grieves the loss of the little luxuries that he knows he doesn’t need, but enjoys nonetheless. Perhaps he grieves at the loss of the old, because he’s not yet ready to rejoice at the birth of the new.
Message provided by the Miller Summer Youth Institute.