He presented himself to the Lord in an almost perfect fashion (Mark 10:17-22). He demonstrated an enthusiasm in his approach that would surely have been an encouraging sign. He didn’t hesitantly come to Jesus but he came in a sprint and when he arrived, he showed the greatest respect. He fell to his knees. Encouraging sign number two. This was one great prospect. Or was he?
He certainly looked good and had the right interest about eternal life. Encouraging sign number three. This was absolutely a can’t-miss situation. His background was impeccable as he met the answer that Jesus gave him with an unblemished record. He had been in compliance with the commandments since he was a kid. Encouraging sign number four. Who could ask for anything more? Apparently excited, sincere, obedient and asking the most important question he could ask. This guy was surely destined to become a loyal follower of Jesus.
Something about this man touched the Lord’s heart, and He identified a single shortcoming. Perhaps His divine eyes saw through the impressive externals that he displayed to see a flaw of heart. He lacked just one thing, and Jesus called him on it. That solitary deficiency would cost him dearly because he could not give it up. He walked away from the only Savior that could offer him the answer to his eternal question. Just…one…thing.
The condition that he was unwilling to meet? Sell your stuff, all of it, and give to the poor. He was at a crossroads. Material life on one hand or eternal life on the other but not both. It was a moment with never ending consequences. He weighed his options and determined that his possessions were of greater value to him than treasure in heaven. It was a monumental decision that changed the course of his life and his destination. What would he tell us about that choice now that he has had 2000 years to experience the consequences that will never end?
He had a lot going for him. If we take all of the accounts we have about this incident (Matthew 19:16-22; Mark 10:17-22 and Luke 18:18-27), we learn that he was young, rich and powerful; any of which could hinder him from following the Lord. The one that tripped him up was money. He simply could not give it all up. Jesus explained the danger to His disciples with a camel and needle story. The point: Eternal life is not possible without God. Let something stop us from following Jesus, and we will forfeit our eternity. It is a disastrous trade.
Is there a single factor standing between us and a total commitment to Jesus? Age? A powerful position? Worldly wealth? Trusting in something temporary when the eternal hangs in the balance? Jesus loved that man and made his misplaced priorities clear to him. Just…one…thing. And what about me?