I couldn’t believe it! It was really him—the teacher everyone’s been talking about. I wasn’t sure if he really was the Messiah, but from what I’d heard, he had wisdom far beyond even the Pharisees.
I approached him quickly before he set out again. Kneeling, I asked, “Good teacher, what must I do to live life to the fullest?”
“Why do you call me good?” he responded.
What?! Isn’t he good though? I thought being good is what having a full life is all about.
“No one is good except God alone.” he clarified, perceiving I was a bit perplexed. This only further stumped me though. Sensing my confusion, he continued, “If you want to live a fulfilling life, keep the commandments.” Yes, the commandments—then I’m on the right track!
“Teacher, I’ve observed the commandments all my life. Is there something I’m missing?” I replied, trying to sound humble but also acknowledge that I was meeting the standards of righteousness.
Then he looked at me with the most loving gaze I’d ever seen. My heart was as light as a feather and for a moment, nothing else in the world mattered—I was at complete peace. I felt what was coming next was going to be wisdom far beyond my reckoning. I knew that whatever he had to say, it would be the beginnings of the life I’d always sought.
“If you want to be perfect—sell everything you have, give the money to the poor, and come and follow me. Then, you’ll have treasure in the kingdom.” he stated.
What?! Did he just raise the bar on me?! That’s not fair! I’ve observed the Law, I’ve been good, I’ve given money to the poor already! Why should I have to give up everything?
I felt a deep sadness creeping in. I didn’t understand. Everything I’d worked to achieve—am I to just give it all away? How am I to survive?
As I walked away with my head hung low, I heard the teacher make a statement to his followers, “How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom!”
This seemed to be a kick when I was already down. My heart felt like it had been shattered into a million tiny pieces. All that I’d done to build a good life was totally disregarded.
“Children, how difficult it is to enter the kingdom of God!” the teacher continued, “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!”
This time, I couldn’t help but to look back. I saw the disciples all with stunned looks on their faces like the teacher had just grown a second head. Then….I looked back to him. Our eyes locked, and he was beaming with the most radiant, loving smile I had ever seen. My heart melted all over again, and I felt the tears welling up inside of me though I couldn’t consciously explain why.
“Then who can be saved?!” one of the disciples asked astonished—the question I was still fumbling to form in my mind.
The teacher’s loving gaze turned back to me, then he answered, “For man—it is impossible, but not for God. With God, all things are possible!”
For a few moments, that statement caused me to pause, knowing there was some deeper meaning just below the surface. Suddenly, it hit me like a ton of bricks, piercing me to my very core. Of course! I’d been going about it all wrong! I’d been trying to earn the good life through my own works. I was trying to buy my way into this kingdom he was presenting. But…but…it’s impossible by my works to enter the kingdom—it’s by him! He’s the One! He’s the Messiah—God’s promise to us for entry into life! It’s all beautifully upside-down. All my possessions are worthless in his kingdom!
Beginning to have some inkling now of how to truly live, the teacher, still looking in my direction, nodded with a grace-filled smile as though he knew my very thoughts. As I departed, the conversation continued between the teacher and the disciples, who still seemed somewhat perplexed. Yet, for me, I felt everlasting life was truly beginning!