I never noticed this until today. In the account of the “rich young ruler,” Mark considered it important enough to include it in his narrative. The Scripture reads, “And as he (Jesus) was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?(Mark 10:17)”
Running to Jesus
The young man RAN to Jesus. This man had intent. He had determination. He had identified the source of what he had been seeking. We know this because he didn’t just run to Jesus but he caused Jesus to stop His journey. This is significant. Abraham did a similar thing, for we find in Genesis 18:2, “Abraham looked up and saw three men standing nearby. When he saw them, he hurried from the entrance of his tent to meet them and bowed low to the ground.” Many theologians consider this encounter to be a Christophany, a visible manifestation of the Son of God before He became flesh (John 1:14).
How similar these two accounts are. Both men spotted Jesus walking. Both men ran to meet Him. Both men stopped Jesus and entreated Him for His attention. Both men bowed or knelt before the Son of God. Both men made a request of Christ. But here the similarity stops.
God called Abram (Abraham) while he was still an idolator, living in the city of Ur. God called him to leave family, friends, and the familiar to go into the wilderness, to a land that God would show him. Abram took God up on His offer, the rich young ruler did not.
Jesus, in whom the Godhead dwells bodily (Colossians 2:9), asked the young man to get rid of the things that tied him to his family, his world, his life, and to come and join Jesus has a disciple; what a privilege Jesus extended to the rich young ruler, but the young man declined.
It’s not enough to run to Jesus, to interrupt Christ’s journey, to fall on our knees before the King of kings and the Lord of lords, to seek the favor of Jesus. For the first thing Jesus requires of us is to surrender all, to let go of the dead corpse of the world which we continually drag around with us. There can be no life as long as we remain in death.
Christ calls us out, but the decision rests solely upon us. Just as Abram was renamed Abraham, Simon was renamed Peter, Saul was renamed Paul, James and John were renamed the sons of thunder, someday, when we arrive in heaven God will give us a new name, but not the rich young ruler; not on that day, for he cared too much for this world to let go. Like a monkey who’s hand is trapped in a jar, this young man grasped his riches so tightly that he could not escape.
A Trinket of Death
Abraham and the rich young ruler: Two men that our Lord offered unimaginable joy and a place in the foundation of God’s kingdom. One man chose correctly, and one did not. What will we do when Jesus asks us to let go of the thing that is most precious to us, for He knows us better than we ourselves. Will we, by God’s grace, place our faith in Jesus? Will we let go of death and be reborn into eternal life? Or, will we try to hold on to a trinket of death and bargain with Jesus so that we may possess both death and life, a bargain that cannot be made.
Choose life. Choose love. Choose Jesus.
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