going out on the road, one came running and knelt before Him, and asked
Him, ‘Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?’
So Jesus said to him, ‘you know the commandments: Do not commit
adultery, Do not murder. And he answered and said to Him, ‘Teacher,
all these things I have kept from my youth.’ Then Jesus looked at him,
loved him, then He told him, ‘One thing you lack. Go your way, sell
whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in
heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me.’ And he was sad at
this word, and went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. Then
Jesus told His disciples, "How hard it is for those who have riches to
enter the kingdom of God!" (Mark 10:17-23)
A question to the rich: What shall I do that I may inherit eternal life? It
is apparent that this youth is interested in his eternal life and the
inheritance of the kingdom of God. We see him running and kneeling
before the Lord Jesus asking Him how to inherit the eternal life? But
Jesus always examines the heart of those asking for the kingdom. To
those who ask that question, He answers them with a question. His
question does not mean that He is unaware of our conditions, but with
His question He is directly placing us into the light and the way
leading to life. He encourages us to enter into it The Lord Jesus
desires the salvation for all and for us to approach the truth. He
doesn’t desire the death of the sinner nor is He pleased with his
destruction. He has hope for the smoking wick and the bruised cane. You
know the commandments: Do not commit adultery, Do not murder, Do not
steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and
your mother. (Mark 10:19).
It is strange that the Lord didn’t mention to him the commandments from the start "To love the Lord your God from all your heart."
(Matt. 22:37; Mark 12:30; Luke 10:27). The Lord with His mercy He knows
and He observes. When the youth gave the answer, the Lord gave him a
look full of love, encouraging and saying: One thing you lack, go
sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure
in heaven; and come take up the cross, and follow Me. (Mark 10:21)
Here the Lord reveals an important and dangerous entity: What good are
the commandments without loving God from all your heart? One might say, God, I thank You that I am not like other men-extortioners, unjust,
adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give
tithes of all that I possess. (Luke 18:11, 12) But my dear, do you
love the Lord from all your heart? What is your personal relationship
with God? That is what the Lord told the youth, that he lacked loving
Him from all his heart. The youth went away sorrowful because he loved
another! He loved the world, and he loved his wealth. He, who wants to
be a world lover, becomes God’s enemy. O my Lord I rather emphasize
being poor to achieve Your love than being rich without You. I rather
be alone with You on earth, than owning the heavens without You. There
is a kind of falsehood in understanding the divine commandments. An
understanding by reasoning:
an example, a person memorized Jesus’ commandments by heart. He argues
in the divine matters, and he imagines, within himself, that he knows
the Bible, though he is chained with the love of money. The love of the
world and the love of pleasures. The Lord Jesus says to those
individuals, Sell whatever you have, carry your cross and follow Me.
This youth doesn’t commit adultery, he doesn’t kill, he doesn’t steal
and he honors his father and mother. Then why does the Lord ask him
more than that? Aren’t there other youth who are known through the
community that they fear God and are worthy of entering the kingdom of
heaven? If such a youth is present in our community, he would be
praised by all, for his mannerism and his righteousness. The kingdom is
not offered because of mannerism, but it is given to those who love God
with all their hearts, with all their souls and with all their power.
This foundation makes the Pharisee, who prays to God and fasts twice a
week, eligible to enter the kingdom of God. But the Lord Jesus asks us
for the first and great commandment, to love the Lord your God with all
your heart, with all your thoughts and with all your might. So without
this commandment everything is in vain. There are many other examples
of those whom the Lord asked them to fulfill, what is considered
impossible. They joyfully carried out the task and reached the kingdom
of God. P Moses refused to be called the son of Pharos, preferring to
be humiliated with God’s people. His love of God made Moses frown on all the wealth and the riches of Egypt.
God told Abraham: Walk before Me and be blameless.
(Gen. 17:1). He heard and obeyed the divine voice. When God told
Abraham to get out of his family and his father’s house, he departed,
not knowing his destination. And when God told him. Take now your
son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah,
and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of
which I shall tell you. (Gen. 22:2), he saddled and offered his son. He didn’t hold back his only son.
And to the Levi, He told him, Follow Me (Matt. 4:19. So he left the tax office and everything and followed the Lord. Similarly, the rest of the Apostles "We have left all and followed You.
(Mark 10:28; Luke 18:28). But this youth, when He told him to sell
whatever he has and give it to the poor, he became extremely sad. Now
where was that appearance of interest for the kingdom? He was running
and kneeling on his knees in front of the Savior, diligently asking
Him. But when the Lord asked him to spend something for the sake of the
kingdom, he was sorrowful. He wants the kingdom without spending for
the kingdom’s sake. He wants to take and not give. But Jesus’ kingdom
is: One exalts in giving more than in taking.
The great Saint Anba Antoneous heard this same chapter of the Bible, in
the fourth century. He immediately left, sold his belongings (300 acres
of the best farm land), gave it to the poor and followed the Lord .
Though this message was useless to that youth. But Saint Antoneous
accepted it with rejoice, hid it in his heart and was obedient to the
law. He fulfilled it with courage. So the divine Word raised him up and
made him one of the great saints who pleased the Lord.
Follow Me carrying your cross.
is the true kingdom of Jesus. It is the way which many reject. Some
they draw an imaginary picture of the kingdom, seeking their comfort
and joy. They imagine that the kingdom is just a place of enjoyment.
But Jesus’ kingdom starts with self-denial and self-crucifixion. We die
in Jesus and live eternally. We are crucified with Him to rise in Him,
to dwell in the new life. Those who do not accept Jesus’ crucifixion,
they have no part in His glory or His resurrection. Therefore the core
of the matter is that the wealth of this youth created an obstacle, a
rock blocking him from salvation. His wealth became a flirt, lust and
pleasure, which are distant from the cross. We are in dire need of the
cross, which places a limit to the desire and worldly pleasures in our
lives. The cross nails our humanity, and with its crucifixion we are
freed from all bounds. The cross frees us from the worldly worship to
examine the freedom as the sons of God.