This morning I read again Mark 10:17-34. These verses spoke powerfully to me today and I began to imagine myself as the man who encountered Jesus on that day on the way to Jerusalem. I realized that I am very much like that man.
I stride confidently to Jesus assured that I have just the right prayer and just the right question for him. I try to flatter Jesus with the description of Good Teacher. He asks me why I call him good. I start to answer with, “perhaps I should have called you excellent teacher or holy God or ….” But Jesus goes on and focusses on the question I have already asked, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” It is the kind of question I ask when I want to get things straight so that I know the rules and can be assured of achieving the rules of this good teacher. Jesus points to the bare minimum and asks me if I have done these things. I assure Jesus that yes, I am doing the basics (even though my conscience is making me uncomfortable). I tell him I have been religious since I was a kid.
Then Jesus says something that shows that he knows me. He points to that one thing that is holding me back. He tells me that there is one thing I have not done. My heart screams, “… one thing? What could this one thing be?” He speaks it and I know it to be true. It is the thing that has formed a dam that is blocking the flow of the river of life. It is a stone that represents the floodgate that is holding back the blessings he wants to give to me. This one boulder in my life is keeping me from receiving more from him.
Jesus tells me to get rid of this stone in my life. Then, he adds one more thing: follow me. Not, follow these rules, but follow him.
My mind protests but I can’t even speak the words I am thinking. I want to listen to the teachings of this teacher. I want to do the good thing. I want to be seen as one who does the good thing in all circumstances. But I know that Jesus speaks truth about the one thing that holds me. He calls me to a life that starts right now. I have been focussed on heaven, but he invites me to enjoy abundant life now and walk with him into heaven. He invites me to follow him.
My head says yes, but my heart says no. This is too much. I must go away and ponder these things some more.
Later, I find out that Jesus went on to speak of me with others who had already given up everything to follow him. At least it seems to me and many others that they have given up everything that held them back from following him. I don’t know what to think of Jesus speaking of me to these perfect Jesus’ followers. What about confidentiality? Are they really as perfect as they seem? I consider again the stone in my life that I am unwilling to release. What if I said yes? My life would be turned upside down. I can’t! It is just impossible. I heard what Jesus said about people like me. “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But not with God. Everything is possible with God.”
Apparently, the next words out of his mouth told his followers that he would be arrested, mocked, and killed by the very people given the responsibility of upholding the rules. But Jesus also said that his lifeless body would rise from the dead.
And that stone that held back the floodgates of all the gifts that I have today, Jesus moved.1
1 This last sentence is a reframing of a line from a song lyric by Brad Johner. “She Moved” is from the album, Summertown Road, 2005.