He came to Jesus looking for truth. On the basis of his own understanding, he had lived a good and righteous life; but Jesus spoke with an authority that the people had never heard before so he came with his question: “What good thing must I do to get eternal life?” Not surprisingly, Jesus gave the man a word of truth; it was initially directed at the man’s behaviors. Then Jesus paused – and the man promptly rationalized and justified himself. But Jesus knew the young man truly had come to hear truth so He spoke again, only this time He gave a word of truth that touched the inner man in the place of his deepest beliefs and motivations. It was truth— it was exactly what the man had asked for – but it was not what he expected or wanted so, sadly, he walked away from the very truth he had come to get – and remained in the temporary satisfaction of his present things instead of the abiding and eternal satisfaction of an intimate relationship with Jesus. (Matthew 19:16-22)
Most folks come to talk with me desire to get some assistance in asking Jesus for truth about some struggles or issues in their lives. Many of them experience what the “rich young ruler” did: a Jesus that is quite available and quite willing to share truth. After all, it is His documented desire to bring truth to the inmost parts of who we are. However, an interesting thing occasionally happens and has happened a number of times in the last few weeks. I can think of three individuals who have come to session looking for truth, have worked and prayed hard, and have actually received what they asked for – truth from Jesus – and then have looked at me and said, “But that is not what I want. I am not going to do that.”
It grieves my heart to watch people actually experience an intimate and personal moment of truth with the Lord – and then reject it. Sometimes people come already knowing what they want – and will only accept His truth if it complies with that want. And like the rich young ruler, they choose the temporary satisfaction of present things instead of entrusting themselves to a gracious and present God. And it is a sad thing.
Thankfully, it is not always that way – in the scripture and in life. Consider another man of standing, a royal official, who also came to Jesus for help (John 4: 43-54). However, unlike the rich young ruler, “He took Jesus at his word and departed.” He did exactly what the Lord instructed even though it made no sense. He ended up going away glad because his son was healed.
The story of these two men was the topic of the message I shared at Avalon Church today, March 22. You can find that message under Sermons at www.avalonchurch.org.