The Saddest Ending

My sister shuns stories, even if based on real life events, if the ending is sad. She claims that life brings enough sadness without the contribution of movies and books. I, on the other hand, love a tear jerker. It’s not that I relish fictitious pain or revel in others’ sufferings; it’s just that often tragic endings move me, inspire me, and wake me up to what is valuable in life.

To me, one of the saddest stories of the gospels is the story of one, often called the rich, young, ruler. This man approached Jesus with a simple question: “Good Teacher, what must I do to have eternal life?” Until recently, I looked at this passage and assumed this man accosted Jesus with a chip on his shoulder, feeling pretty confident in his religious achievements, and merely “checking in” with Jesus in order to receive affirmation, and a pat on the back for his spirituality. However, the other day when I read this story, it struck me, that this man seemed  serious in his search for truth. He was not happy with a simple answer from Jesus. Instead he pressed the issue. And when Jesus began to name the commandments, he replied, “All these I have kept since my youth. What else must I do?” He seems to be genuinely seeking. This man felt an emptiness that all his religious activity could not fill. He knew there must be something more. Sadly, Jesus’ response astounded him, leaving him with an even greater sense of emptiness.”One thing you lack. Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come and follow me.”

Was Jesus saying that in order to have eternal life we must sell all our goods and give them to the poor? Clearly this would not be in keeping with the whole body of Scripture.   I am convinced Jesus’ point was to show the young man how impossible it was for him to fill up that lack–to be perfect. I wonder what Jesus’ answer might have been if the young man had said, “Oh, Jesus, I know you are right, and my wealth is meaningless, but I can’t! I just can’t! I don’t know how to sell everything and live like you do! I need you. I cannot attain eternal life on my own.”

This seems to be the response Jesus would have desired from the young man, because just a few verses later, after telling the disciples how impossible it is for a rich man to enter heaven he makes this powerful claim, “With man it is impossible. But with God, everything is possible.”

This story has a tragic ending. The young man went away sad, because he had great wealth. He valued his wealth, and his own self-sufficiency more than he valued eternal life.  I am drawn to this story because it reminds me that without Christ, my vision becomes skewed and I can value things of this life more than the next. I can be caught up in the temporal, and only Christ in me, can lift the veil, expose the trivial and reveal the truly valuable issues in life. It also inspires me to throw off self-sufficiency, and believe Jesus, not just for salvation, but for every aspect of my walk in this life. Because what Jesus told his disciples so many years ago is still true today. “With man it is impossible, but with God, all things are possible.”

One Response to "The Saddest Ending"

  • thanks for providing a daily inspiration I needed sis-in law! you are such a treasure

    1 Cindy Price said this (December 8, 2011 at 8:05 am) Reply

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