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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...

On Your Mark by Dr. George O. Wood


If Only

At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth. Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!” (Mark 10:22,23, NIV)

We call him the rich young ruler. But have you noticed? We don’t know his name.

We do know the names of Peter, James and John, as well as the other disciples. Probably in his own community this man’s name was well-known — but it is lost to history. He chose wealth over significance. If only he had followed Jesus, he would have gained identity.

In coming to Jesus, he came to the right Person. Only Jesus knows the answer to the question, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?”

He came to Jesus at the right time. He was young and had a potential lifetime of service before him. Would we have known him as a foundation stone in the Church had he made a different decision that day? If only! And it was the right time for Jesus; He was on the way to the cross. He was willing to add an 11th-hour worker to His band of disciples.

He asked the right question. The opponents of Jesus consistently had asked questions to trap Him. But this rich young ruler asked the most important question anyone can ask: “How can I live eternally?”

He got the right answer. Jesus laid His finger on what held the man back. He always identifies to us what we must surrender if we are to follow Him. Discipleship comes with a cost.

But the rich young ruler made the wrong decision. He went away.

The German preacher Helmut Thielicke tells the story of a child who was raising a frightful cry because he had shoved his hand into the opening of a very expensive Chinese vase and then couldn’t pull it out again.

Parents and neighbors tugged on the child’s arm as the poor kid howled loudly all the while. Finally, there was nothing left to do but break the beautiful, expensive vase. As the pile of shards lay there, it became clear why the child had been so hopelessly stuck. His little fist held fast onto a penny, which he had spied in the bottom of the vase, and of which he, in his childish ignorance, would not let go.

This young ruler wouldn’t let go either. He had a chance to follow Jesus and he blew it. Mark notes that he not only went away, but went away “sad.” Is he sad because he knew he made the wrong choice, or because Jesus did not give him the answer he wanted?

Three times in the verses about the rich young ruler, Mark notes that Jesus “looked.” He looked at the man and loved Him (v. 21). He looked around after the man left Him (v. 23) — a look directed at the crowd. He looked finally and specifically at the disciples (v. 27). Jesus is always looking, probing to see where we stand.

He penetrates right to the heart. Where do we stand? What are our values? Are we sincere? What matters most to us? What defenses have we erected against His Lordship? How ready are we to follow Him? Will we pay whatever price He asks?

A prayer of response
Lord Jesus, as with the rich young ruler, You just want me. Not part of me. All of me. May I always say “yes” to You so that no decision in my life will ever find me walking away from You.

GEORGE O. WOOD is general superintendent of the Assemblies of God.

On Your Mark

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2013 On Your Mark

2012 On Your Mark

2011 On Your Mark

2010 On Your Mark

2009 On Your Mark

2008 On Your Mark

Podcasts of On Your Mark are available in video and audio.
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