Jesus . . . said to him, ’One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor . . . and come, take up the cross, and follow Me’ —Mark 10:21
My perfection is not the aim of being a disciple of Jesus. Becoming perfect tends to be more about myself than about Christ. The temptation is to have people look to me and at me rather Christ. Instead, Christ is known through my weakness. His power, glory and radiance are seen not when I have it all together but when I actually disappear.
My personal holiness/perfection has nothing to do with my salvation, as it has already been purchased through the blood of Christ. God’s call for me to be holy is more about my identification with Christ alone.When Jesus tells this man to “go your way”, He is letting him know that “he has come” with the wrong intention. The young ruler was looking to find perfection as the ultimate possession and goal. Jesus however flips the script and says that identification with Himself is the only way to be found with perfection.
Jesus’ words may seem harsh to the casual reader. The carnal man would be offended by such words. Yet we are told that Jesus looked on him “with love”. I have to remember that everything Christ does and says is out of love. He is never “unkind” but always speaks the “truth in love”. Jesus is not concerned with the man’s “feelings” but with his soul. Nonetheless, we are given this window into the heart of Christ as a reassurance that He loves all, regardless of where we are, what our motivations may be and or how we respond.
Jesus says such a thing to the young man because of Christ’s unyielding demand to have first place in a life. As far as Jesus is concerned the only good thing is this life is a right relationship with Christ, which is only possible when Christ is first.
The one thing the man lacked was not something he could possess while having everything else. He was “rich” as the passage indicates. Jesus was calling the man to embrace the “Great Exchange”, in giving away all else for the one thing he really wanted to possess. It is a tendency I have to find “life” in things, whether possessing them or doing activities that make me “feel alive”. Christ however is telling this man and all others that there is no life apart from Him. Life is not found in possessions or activities. Life is in Christ alone.
When Jesus told the man to sell what he had and to come and follow, it wasn’t that Jesus was against “stuff”. However, Jesus is against ANYTHING that comes between us and Him. In this man’s case, it was his “stuff”. Jesus wanted the man boiled down to his essence, in humility and full dependance upon Christ alone. The young man went away sorrowful not because he wasn’t “ABLE” to follow but because he chose to hold onto something other than Christ alone.
For more on this passage read: My Utmost For His Highest