By Pastor Nathan Richardson, Heartland Community Church
What Desire Does
You and I are probably different in a lot of ways. I like Mac, you might be a PC person. I have a beard, you might be a woman. I have multiple tattoos, you might think tattoos are stupid. But we are similar in many ways. We all have desire. We might desire different things, but we all desire. I desire the best for my family. My wife and my son are the best things I have going for me. I desire for them to be healthy, to feel safe, and loved. I desire one day to retire while still healthy enough to enjoy retirement. I desire to impact this world and leave it better than I found it. We all desire. What is it that you desire more than anything?
A few years ago I went to a restaurant for the first time in Marion, IA. Zoey’s was known for their Chicago style pizza and it is amazing, everything from the sweet sauce to the crust. During the meal someone said, “You better save some room for dessert, the best is yet to come.” And they were right. Zoey’s only has one dessert, it was delivered to our table in a skillet, a soft, just out of the oven chocolate chip cookie, with three heaping spoonfuls of ice cream, three big globs of whipped cream drizzled with hot fudge. It was the best dessert I ever had. He was right, the best was yet to come.
The rich young ruler had desire and he sought out Jesus for the answer. The question was this, “What good thing must I do to get eternal life?” This leads me to think that he must be afraid to die and that he can do something to keep this from happening. Since the only thing we know about this guy is that he is rich, he is young, and he is a ruler we know that he has everything he has ever desired but he is missing something and his life is not fulfilling him. He wants more.
Jesus tells him if he wants to enter life he must obey the commandments, do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not lie, honor your father and mother and love your neighbor as yourself. We know these as Commandments #5-9 and the 2nd Greatest Commandment. The ruler says, “all these I have kept.” Jesus replies, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come follow me. When the young man heard this, he went away sad.”
Jesus just shared the truth to what the Ruler was wanting to know, but yet it disappointed him. It was something more than the Ruler was willing to separate with. His desire for eternity was eclipsed by his temporary wealth. Desire reveals our hearts. The Ruler’s reaction revealed what his heart looked like.
I think the Commandments that Jesus did not mention can also play a role into this story. #1 says, “You shall have no other God’s before me. #2 says, “You shall not make yourself an idol in the form of anything.” #10 says, “You shall not covet.” If Jesus had mentioned these I wonder what the Ruler would have said? Could he have said he followed them since he was a boy?
The Ruler made a decision that the cost of eternal life was too great. He did not want to give up his god, of money, for Jesus. What the Ruler did not understand was that money was his temporary idol, an idol so important to him that he gave up eternal life. We find out something really important about the Ruler, while he thought he desired eternal life he was willing to let it go for something that could be gone tomorrow.
Christ wanted the Ruler to follow him but he missed it. At this point, Peter had an epiphany. “We have left everything to follow you.” Jesus must have smiled at this moment, because he knew Peter was starting to understand. Peter then asks, “What then will there be for us?” Jesus says, you who have followed me will also sit on 12 thrones…you will receive 100X as much, and will inherit eternal life.
The disciples realized that the best was yet to come. The ruler walked away before he could realize what was to be offered. He walked away signifying something was more important that following Christ. If he had let go of his god, he could have experienced something so much better, as the best was on its way. So many times it can be easier to choose what is right in front of us rather than choose what is best. Jesus was trying to show the Ruler what was best. The Ruler walked away sad when instead he could have had exactly what he was desiring in the beginning, eternal life.