058 – The Secrets in a Resume

If you were asked to boil down the Gospel message into just one word, what would that word be? Most people would probably say, “The heart of the Gospel is love!”

In fact, the word love and its derivatives is one of the most used words in the entire Bible. And, there is no greater persons in whom we see love demonstrated than Jesus Christ and God the Father. Jesus laid down his life for us well before we ever knew him, and “God is love,” according to the apostle John. Having someone to love and being loved are two of mankind’s greatest needs and God graciously provides His love for us on us in a variety of ways. And of course, love is a two way street.

Loving Christ

If you are a disciple of Christ, you have returned the love God gives by obeying his commands and dedicating your life to the cause of Christ. Christians love Christ! When we look through the Gospels we find many other people who loved Jesus too. Mary and Martha come to mind; Mary Magdalene for sure. When we look for the people Jesus loved, we might recall the intensely emotional event at Lazarus’ tomb. Everyone saw his love for Lazarus because, “Jesus wept.” The Bible says, “Jesus loved Mary, Martha and Lazarus.” We also have the humorous veiled references John makes about himself in his Gospel as “the one whom Jesus loved.” We also have abundant societal references to Christ’s love. “Jesus loves the little children,” as the song goes. And of course let’s not forget, “Jesus loves me, this I know.” Without question, Jesus has a heart of love.

But, did you know there is only one specific individual in the entire Bible where it explicitly says, “Jesus loved him?” Who’s that and how would you like to be that guy? Only one individual… in all of scripture… is singled out as being the specific object of Christ’s love! Do you know who that was? It’s not Lazarus!

Introducing the Rich Young Ruler

This is one of my favorite characters in all the Bible – The Rich Young Ruler. So, why does the Bible say in Mark 10:21, “Jesus looked at him and loved him?” The answer is found in this young man’s resume. You know, there’s a lot of information in a resume. So, let’s do a little review of this fellows’.

We meet this guy in no less than three Gospels and as it turns out, there are a ton of interesting facts established which eventually point to a stunning revelation. By the end of this podcast, I think you will agree, this is a most impressive resume indeed.

The story of The Rich Young Ruler appears in Matthew 19, Mark 10 and Luke 18. God evidently wants us to notice this guy. Let’s read about him from the Mark 10 account.

Mark 10:17-23
As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

“Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good–except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, do not defraud, honor your father and mother.’”

“Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.”

Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.

Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!”

A Tragic Beginning?

What a seemingly sad story; a man runs up to Jesus and falls on his knees. His heart is obviously burning with a question. It’s the same question you and I should probably ask if we could meet with Jesus for just one minute. “Lord, will I get to go to Heaven?” Truth be told, there is absolutely no other question which is more important to every human heart. Everyone, from the depths of their soul, wants to know if they will be “OK” when everything is over and the final curtain falls. We all long to know that someday, somehow, everything will be all right and we will be counted worthy of heaven. All other questions we might want to ask the Son of God, pale in comparison to this one vital question. This question speaks to the entire purpose of the Bible, the entire purpose of the Christian faith and the very reason for Christ’s sojourn to the earth. He loves us and wants all men to be saved.

Let’s look at the other accounts of this man’s quest and glean some facts about his character and credentials.We see this fellow running to Jesus and falling on his knees. Why would he be running? Why would he fall on his knees? I think this speaks about the content of the young man’s heart. He was excited. He was eager. He was expectant. He was urgent. By falling on his knees we get the sense that he understands who Jesus might be. He seems to understand; this iterate preacher possesses power from God that heretofore has never been seen in Israel.

Now, I have heard some commentators suggest that this “falling on the knees” is a bit of mockery or a flair for dramatics. I don’t buy that. I believe this is a sincere, hungry, heartfelt outreach to, what this man perceived as an incredibly important religious figure. In fact, I think this guy may have been motivated by some discovery he has made from the scriptures. He may have just concluded that Jesus is the promised Jewish Messiah! This would certainly explain the dramatic entrance.

Building Our Resume

Here are the facts we have at hand. Our Matthew 19 scripture initially calls this person a man and says that he “came up to Jesus.” In verse 22, it provides a bit more detail and calls him “a young man.” Mark tells us he is a “man” and he “falls on his knees.” Luke offers greater detail when the good Doctor tells us he is “a certain ruler.” When we harmonize all three gospel accounts, we come up with the title by which this excited young man is most well know and most aptly describes him, “The Rich Young Ruler.”

So, the facts are… he is young. He is a male. We know he is a ruler of some sort. We know he has a question for Jesus and we surmise it is something which is burning in his heart because of the way he approaches Jesus.

In all three accounts, the question is the same. “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” This is a religious question. It appears as if this young man thinks his salvation is based on good works. The object of his desire is the hope of heaven. What more does this tell us about the young man?

Well, he’s religious. He has his mind set on spiritual matters. He seeks an answer to this religious question from a person he perhaps sees as a pretty important authority in Palestine. Why not go to the temple and ask the priests or the teachers of the law? Maybe he did, but it is now in front of Jesus where he poses the same question. By this, we know he holds Jesus in high regard involving spiritual and eternal matters; at least as high as the Pharisees and Teachers of the Law. He recognized Jesus’ credentials. He calls him “Good teacher.”

Jesus response seems enigmatic.

“Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone!”

You don’t always get what you want!

Wow! Not really a very direct answer to your burning question, right? I’ll bet that hurt. How would you feel if you walked up to your favorite religious leader, asked a sincere question and was immediately corrected about something you said? That’s exactly what just happened – how embarrassing. This guy is still on his knees with a crowd surrounding him and he is corrected by the man he came to for help.

I suspect Jesus quickly replied so as not to leave him hanging too long.

Mark and Luke say: “You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, do not defraud, honor your father and mother.’”

These are Jewish commandments. This confirms our suspensions that this is a young Jewish man. And not just any ol’ Jewish fellow; he is a really good Jew! Now, even though Jesus had never met him before, he said, “You know the commandments.” Isn’t that interesting?

Mark 10:20
“Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.”

Impeccable Credentials

This is a bold and confident statement! He never neglected a commandment? This young man was a dedicated, serious, God fearing, God obeying young man who must have been raised in a pretty solid household. This is not just a young street urchin sliding up to Jesus to get an autograph or a selfie with the savior. This is a young man who has, up to this moment, dedicated his life to obeying the Old Testament, to the best of his ability. He is what we might call, “a serious seeker.” At this point, don’t you think Jesus should just say, “Awesome, you have done well. You believe in me so you are good to go!”

Well, that’s not what happens.

Next comes that stunning statement made about no other individual in the the entire Bible. “Jesus looked at him and loved him.” Right here, I imagine a long pensive pause as Jesus looks through this young man’s eyes and into his soul, preparing to deliver what will be a devastating response.

“One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

Going Away Sad

Because we know what happens next, we know how appropriate, poignant and piercing this command is. It is aimed directly at the idols of this man’s life. This response directly addresses some very specific sin; our friend is exposed as a covetous sinner! He loves his money and his stuff!

Mark 10:22
“At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.

Jesus knew exactly which buttons to push. He knew exactly what was keeping this man from his heart’s desire. The price seemed infinite. And with this realization… our friend hangs his head and goes away sad. What a tragic and woeful end to what he anticipated might be the meeting of a lifetime. What he had hoped might be the crowning achievement of his religious career turns into a crushing blow. His final decision… to walk away. And thus ends the story of the Rich Young Ruler.

But not from Jesus perspective!

Jesus sees things differently.

You see, there is a reason Jesus looked at him with love. Did you notice something curious about Jesus’ attitude? Was he surprised? No. Was he offended? No. Was he angry? No. If we were to characterize Jesus’ attitude, we might call it “hope.” He even tells him what to do after he dumps all his junk… “Come follow me.” That’s actually a pretty faithful statement, isn’t it?

From Jesus perspective, this encounter is not yet over. Standing with the now dumbfounded disciples, Jesus continues to discuss the situation. It is within these comments we glean even more information about the Rich Young Ruler.

The story continues nearly word for word in all three Gospels. Let’s read Mark’s.

Mark 10:23-31
Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!”

The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”

The disciples were even more amazed, and said to each other, “Who then can be saved?”

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.”

Peter said to him, “We have left everything to follow you!”

“I tell you the truth,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age (homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields–and with them, persecutions) and in the age to come, eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”

So after our dejected young man exists stage left, there is some more discussion about the situation the disciples just witnessed and Jesus’ comments fill them with amazement. “It is hard to enter the kingdom of God. It is especially hard for the rich to enter the kingdom.” According to Luke, the young man is apparently still in view, probably sulking away in the distance ,when Jesus says all this to the disciples.

A Profound Prediction of Hope

Then he makes a profound prediction of hope.

“With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.”

What are you saying Jesus? Is there still a hope left for this guy?

You know, how many times have we quoted, “With God, all things are possible” and never realized it’s about a guy who has just had his entire hope shattered!

Later, Matthew adds, in verse 30, “But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.”
What’s this? Jesus is making a comparison… but, about what?

The comparison is between the Rich Young Ruler and the Apostles. They had left everything; which is exactly what Jesus told the young man to do. But that’s not the comparative issue. The comparative issue is between people who are first, namely the Apostles, and people who are last, namely the Rich Young Ruler. Jesus knows something about this man that the Apostles do not yet know and they will not know for the foreseeable future. As I’ve said, “The secret is all wrapped up in the young man’s resume.”

A Stunning Review of the Resume!

Here’s what we know so far.

This man is rich. This man is young. He is an Israelite, and not just an Israelite, he’s kept the commandments since he was a boy. He has a deep desire for the Kingdom of God. He bases his salvation on works. He struggles with the sin of covetousness and greed, which is a form of idolatry. He probably has a lot of possessions. He is told to get rid of them. He is told by Jesus to “Come follow me.” He is the only man of which the Bible specifically and explicitly says, “Jesus loved him,” and yet he is never mentioned again. He goes away sad because he does not receive the counsel or answer to he thought he would receive.

Why would Jesus look at him and love him? Why would Jesus tell him to “come follow me?” Why would Jesus put this man in the comparative position of last and say only God could make some things happen? What did Jesus see in this man that the Apostles did not see?

You know, a person’s resume can sure speak volumes about them. When you’re looking for someone to fill a position on your team, a resume is the thing you will probably come back to when all of the interviews are over. You spread the resumes out on the conference table and you begin to compare them. Sometimes you find some common qualities which may be useful. You never find two different resume’s which match perfectly.

But guess what, this is exactly what happens with the Rich Young Ruler’s resume! There is another person who’s resume matches his to a “T” and Jesus, compelled by love reaches out to this guy in just as dramatic a fashion.

If you know your Bible, you know who I’m talking about. Yeah! The Rich Young Ruler is the Apostle Paul! Let’s talk about Paul’s resume, next!

Enjoy!

Dana Haynes
Listen Now – Podcast 058 – The Secrets in a Resume

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