When I think of messed up people, I think of the poor guy who is blind or leprous, hungry or hurting. They’re messed up.
This messed up guy isn’t down and out, he’s up and out. He’s rich. He’s young, and he’s powerful. He’s got the world by the tail and he should’ve been as happy as a pig in clover! But he wasn’t. Something was wrong. He was missing something. He was messed up! (Matthew 19:16-22, Mark 10:17-22, Luke 18:18-30).
(Let’s give this guy a name ... let’s call him Richard Goldstein... Richie for short!)
Richie came to Jesus with what appeared to be a sincere request. “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” (Mark 10:17, CSB).
In this brief encounter, Jesus asks Richie three probing questions: Who is Jesus? Who are you? And who is your god?
First, Jesus seizes on Richie’s “Good teacher” comment. Is Jesus just a good teacher, an itinerant Rabbi? Is He only a miracle-worker? Is He a Jeannie in a bottle, a spiritual Santa Claus? Jesus asked the disciples this same important question: “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” (Matthew 16:13, CSB). Peter got it right. “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16, ESV). Richie was stuck on “good teacher.”
Next, Jesus gives Richie a pop-quiz on the Ten Commandments:
Commandment number six... don’t murder! Check!
Commandment number seven... don’t commit adultery! Check!
Commandment number eight... don’t steal! Yep... I’m good! Check!
Commandment number nine... don’t lie! Check!
And, commandment number five... honor your folks! Perfect score! I’m good! Check!
He was a law-abiding citizen. Moral. Ethical. “Teacher, I have kept all these from my youth” (Mark 10:20, CSB). He’d asked Jesus, “What must I do?” He thought that he could work his way into heaven. Do this... do this... do this... check.
Left unasked... How about commandment number one? No other gods! And commandment number ten? Don’t covet.
The law is like a mirror. When we look closely, we see the imperfections and flaws. We recognize our failures and faults, and thus, our need of a Savior.
Sadly, Richie didn’t see it.
“Jesus loved him” (Mark 10:21) enough to take Richie to the third point. Jesus asked, “Who is your god? Is it your money? Would you be willing to give away your earthly wealth to gain an eternal treasure?”
Richie may be the only guy in the Gospels who left the presence of Jesus in worse shape than when he came... Poor Richard “Richie” Goldstein!
By the way, it’s pretty easy to get our priorities mixed up. Our god can become the bouncing ball... or the fair maiden... or the next promotion... Ask yourself, what wouldn’t I give up to follow Jesus?
South Georgia Baptist Church
Mike Martin, Pastor