He did everything right.
He was religious. He was prosperous. He was educated. He was respected.
He was one of Israel’s most eligible bachelors.
But something was missing. Something deep:
Peace with God at the soul level.
It all publicly culminated as he collapsed like a heap before the dirty feet of the one with answers, a good teacher. Like a pauper begging for a lonely morsel he’d go anywhere, give everything, do anything to quench this longing. What a humble posture for a man of his stature. Or so it seems:
Teacher what must I do to have eternal life?!
Pray a prayer? Follow a formula? Give some change to the good teacher’s cause? The answer should be simple enough, thought the young man.
The good teacher answers his question with a question. An enigmatic reply only a Jewish Rabbi could muster. And then He points to the Mosaic Law,
“Just do it.”
This dude must not know me very well, thought the young chap. I’ve kept the law obsessively since pre-K. I’ve tithed out of my spice rack, never touched an unclean woman, and I don’t even beat my servants on the Sabbath!
“Good sir, I kept this Law ever since I was a little boy.”
The most curious look washed across the good teacher’s face. Sadness and compassion at once converged in His deep dark brown eyes. Tears welled up but didn’t roll down as He responded to the boy:
“Then sell all you have, give it to the poor, and come follow Me for the rest of your life.”
The golden calf is laid bare.
The sword is plunged into the heart of the matter.
It had been the question that had haunted the boy until now, but for the rest of his life the answer will haunt him even more. What mindless audacity from a sweaty carpenter with no pedigree, no land, and no following of consequence?
This couldn’t be.
He stood up slowly, downcast, and turned back to the fields of gold he came from. Rich. Young. Respected. Religious.
Full of sorrow.
Full of pride.
The good teacher watched the young ruler amble away without another word.
Sometimes the questions are complex and the answers are simple.
Sometimes we walk away sorrowful from the only One who can give real lasting joy.