Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, “You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” -Mark 10:21
Dear members and friends,
The story of the young rich man entering Heaven is famous not because of Jesus’ answer regarding how to inherit eternal life, but because of the grief and sorrow that came upon the young rich man. When he first received Jesus’s answer, the man was excited and happy to learn that he too could enter Heaven! Thus, the man replied, “Teacher, I have kept all these since my youth,” and Jesus looked at him and loved him! What is very special about this verse is the way that it is written. If you search all four Gospels to find “Jesus loved him/her,” you would only find three similar references according to the New Revised Standard Version. They are Mark 10, John 11 (Jesus loved Marth, her sister and Lazarus), and John 13 (the disciple whom Jesus loved). What this means is that Jesus loves those who are able to live the six commandments, as I discussed in last week’s message.
Jesus replied to the young rich man – who was most likely excited and proud of himself – with this statement, “You lack one thing.” Jesus said this not to criticize him, but to lead him to the perfection for which he was created. In other words, if he were to get this one thing right, then he would be perfect as it is written in Matthew, “if you wish to be perfect.” However, the one thing he lacked was something that seemed impossible to achieve for him, because Jesus asked him to give up everything he owns, to give them to others, and to follow Jesus. In Mark, when the rich young man heard this, “he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions.” Spiritually, what this story symbolizes is that spiritual completion can only happen when we completely give up our attachment to all things belonging to the material world. The reason is that our spiritual body with which we enter Heaven should be composed only of what is spiritual, and our attachment to the material has no place within it. In other words, if our mind is filled with desire for material things, then we form an inner body that is not heading toward Heaven, but to Hell. What this indicates is that just as entering Heaven is not a reward from God, going to Hell is not a punishment from God. Heaven or Hell is formed within us as a result of how we treat other people.
My brothers and sisters in God, let us have love in our heart for each other. God is love, and thus only by means of love we could form a heaven within ourselves.
Blessings, Rev. Junchol Lee