“Now behold, one came and said to Him, “Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?”
So He said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.”
He said to Him, “Which ones?”
Jesus said, “‘You shall not murder,’ ‘You shall not commit adultery,’ ‘You shall not steal,’ ‘You shall not bear false witness,’ ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ ”
The young man said to Him, “All these things I have kept from my youth. What do I still lack?”
Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”
But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.” Mt. 19:16-22
“and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.” 2 Cor. 5:15
“Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”” John 8:12
He might have been homeless. Maybe not. He had an eccentric look about him. Then again, in New York City, anything goes. Nothing is too unusual. The most unusual tends to be the usual. It’s a city of extreme extremes, to say the least. The man sat on a bench in the park beside a carrier filled with stuff. I stood near him talking to someone about the Lord. The next thing I knew, he who apparently was mostly mute was scribbling words on a piece of paper to communicate with me.
Here essentially is what he said. That he saw light in me. That he wanted that light. That he thought I was spiritually beautiful. I was compelled to invite him on a little walk in the park with me and the wheelchair dogs where we were surrounded with people and I would be safe with a stranger who clearly needed to hear about the light in me.
I talked to him about the Lord Jesus Christ being the light in me, and what became apparent very clearly as I talked to him and he answered my questions with nods of his head was this. He wanted the light, but he didn’t want to give up his worldly pleasures. He wanted his lifestyle of sin more than he wanted the light of Christ and everlasting life. But rather than appear joyful that he could hold onto his sins and reject Christ, he seemed tragically sad.
The man in the Bible story above should have been thrilled to reject Christ and eternal life in favor of holding onto his worldly possessions, but instead he was sad, wasn’t he? Somehow, deep inside, it’s like he knew what he was missing but simply wouldn’t let go of his earthly treasures to follow Jesus.
We are deceiving ourselves if we think everlasting life is for those who simply say a quick emotional prayer asking Jesus into their hearts and then go live the self-centered sin-ridden lives they always did according to the world’s ways with their backs turned on Jesus until one day they skip off to heaven.
Forgiveness and a forever relationship with God are for those who genuinely repent from a lifestyle of sin and turn to Christ to believe in and live for Him according to God’s ways. The light of Christ is for those who no longer live for self but live for Jesus. This comes with the price of letting go of all God desires us to let go so our hearts and hands are free to live for Him.
The man I met that day didn’t want to pay the price. To him, his earthly pleasures were more valuable than being in Christ’s presence forever. He understood what he would lose, and he was willing to lose it. He was willing to spend eternity in hell and the lake of fire so he could hold onto the temporary pleasures of this life.
Is there any greater tragedy? Undoubtedly not.