by Mallon Faircloth
During the Lenten season, we traditionally symbolize our commitment to penitence for Christ’s name’s sake by sacrificing or giving up something in our life that is un-Christ-like, be it ever so small, in view of His ultimate sacrifice for our redemption and salvation.
What should we give up? Does it matter?
The 19th Chapter of Matthew, beginning at verse 16, relates the following:
One came up and said to Jesus, “Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?”
Jesus said to him, “If you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.” Jesus then recited six of the 10 Commandments, all of which have to do with the relationship with one’s fellow man.
The young man said, “All of these things have I kept from my youth.”
[I think we have to question that claim, since Jesus told the young man that to have a life, he should keep the Commandments in regard to his fellow man. Surely, Jesus knew whether or not he did.]
But the young man insisted that he had kept them from his youth, and he asked, “What lack I yet?” Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have, and give to the poor, and you will have a treasure in heaven; then come and follow Me.”
When the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.
In this meditation, we can probably conclude that the rich young man did not recognize Jesus as the Christ but only as a “Good Teacher.” Moreover, his question was in the singular -what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life? He was not interested in following Christ. He seemed to be looking for a quick fix to gaining eternal life. He was interested in adding to his great possessions the greatest of all possessions – eternal life.
Now, if we are told what we need to do to have a life and what we need to do to be perfect, -as Jesus told the young man, we have to recognize that we are being told that we are not perfect and that our life is not good.
According to the criteria that Jesus had stated, the Disciples were good and perfect. All of them would inherit eternal life, that is, all but Judas, the one who betrayed Jesus for the worldly possession of 30 pieces of silver. Like the rich young man, Judas ultimately valued worldly possessions over following Christ.
After the rich young man had turned his back on Jesus and walked away, Jesus said to his disciples, “Assuredly, I say to you, anyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My name’s sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and shall inherit eternal life.
Our meditation on this passage leads us to conclude that we all have to rid ourselves or whatever stands in the way of following Christ and living for His name’s sake – as Christians.
It is not a question of riches, it is a question of priorities. That is what matters.
In this Lenten Season, Let us pray that, with God’s help, we will always keep our priorities straight.