And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’” And he said to him, “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.” And Jesus, looking at him, loved him… (Mark 10:17-21)
When we read this account of the rich young man who approaches Yeshua, we tend to completely gloss over one little statement. After responding to Yeshua that he had been diligent in keeping the mitzvot throughout his life, it says that Yeshua “loved him.” He “loved him” because he knew that this young man was sincere in his service to Hashem. He “loved him” in that he was faithful in walking in obedience to the God of Israel. But he also “loved him” enough to speak to him with the gut-level truth when he told him the one thing he still lacked: to be radically sold out to the Messiah.
When we are faithful in the small things, we will be “tested” by with the reward of being given even greater responsibilities. C.S. Lewis, in The Horse and His Boy, from his Narnia series, tells the story of a boy named Shasta who had to experience very difficult things in his life. And just when he thought it couldn’t become any more difficult, the challenges increased exponentially. Here is an excerpt, which I posted previously, that illustrates what I am trying to say:
“‘If you run now, without a moment’s rest, you will still be in time to warn King Lune.’ Shasta’s heart fainted at these words for he felt he had no strength left. And he writhed inside at what seemed the cruelty and unfairness of the demand. He had not yet learned that if you do one good deed your reward usually is to be set to do another and harder and better one.”
The Mishna puts has an aphorism from Ben Azzai which states,
“Be eager to fulfill the smallest mitzvah and flee from transgression; for one mitzvah induces another and one transgression leads to another transgression. The reward of a mitzvah is a mitzvah, the reward of one transgression is another transgression” (Avot 4:2).
Yeshua said it this way:
“You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” (Mark 10:21)
But the good news is that if we step up to the plate and meet the challenge, his response will be:
His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ (Matthew 25:21)
I see myself in this young man to which Yeshua addresses in that I have been faithfully diligent in many things, but sometimes am not ready for the “reward.” I would like to sit back and rest, rather than meet another challenge. However, in regard to this young man, Yeshua “loved him.” Maybe this young man overlooked this just as I had. He didn’t realize the love Yeshua had for him and how the challenge was actually the reward. Yeshua “loved him” just as he “loves us.” Yes, Jesus love me… But he expects a radical commitment to himself. Are we up for the challenge, or are we walking away with our heads to the ground?