As Jesus was setting out on a journey, a man ran up, knelt down before him, and asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus answered him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: You shall not kill; you shall not commit adultery; you shall not steal; you shall not bear false witness; you shall not defraud; honor your father and your mother.” He replied and said to him, “Teacher, all of these I have observed from my youth.” Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said to him, “You are lacking in one thing. Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” At that statement his face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions. Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” The disciples were amazed at his words. So Jesus again said to them in reply, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” They were exceedingly astonished and said among themselves, “Then who can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “For human beings it is impossible, but not for God. All things are possible for God.” Peter began to say to him, “We have given up everything and followed you.” Jesus said, “Amen, I say to you, there is no one who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands for my sake and for the sake of the gospel who will not receive a hundred times more now in this present age: houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and eternal life in the age to come.”
“Give it all away and come and follow Me.” That’s what Jesus commands all of us to do. Like the rich young ruler, there’s usually one or more things that just gnaw at each of us – that is so hard to let go in our hearts, that we hold a little back instead of giving it all to Jesus. Because this is a “financially-related” example, it’s exceptionally hard for us to think of “giving-away” finances since we are trying to provide monetarily for ourselves and our Families. But, if we don’t get stuck in that detail, the Message here is much deeper than that. When Jesus was here, He was fully-present, fully-focused on His mission, and fully-Jewish. If you read Matthew 23, Jesus was very unhappy with the Jewish Church in His time – especially the Religious Leaders. Yet, He was a very active member of the Jewish Church and Community – He was fully-Jewish. Judas Iscariot would betray Jesus while part of the original twelve Apostles, yet Jesus didn’t turn His back on His Disciples – including Judas who He was willing to forgive if Judas was willing. Many Churches through the years have come under persecution, scandals, etc. Just like the Apostles (who all sinned), our Church Leaders (just like us) all fall short of the Glory of God this side of Heaven. But, just like Jesus did in forgiving Peter after His resurrection, we are called to stay the course. We are to remember that our Churches are God’s first and foremost. Church is meant to be a Place where can Remember what Jesus did for us, be Grateful for His unending love, and Praise God. This is what Jesus is saying to us here – He gave it all away (even to His death). We are to do our best to “give it all away” to Him – even when we fall short; as we will in the flesh. Jesus doesn’t want us to go to our Churches for our Pastors, Priests, Leaders, etc. He wants us there to be with Him. And, if Jesus can endure the problems of the Jewish Church in His day, a betrayal by one of His closest Friends, and go to His death through His loyalty to His Father, then we can endure the challenges in each of our own Churches. At the end of the day, we are all One Body in Christ – One Church. So, let’s stand together through it all – no matter what the cost.