Thought for Thursday
A rich young ruler encounters Jesus!
Mark 10:17 - As Jesus started on his way; a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. "Good teacher," he asked, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?" "Why do you call me good?" Jesus answered. "No one is good—except God alone. You know the commandments: 'Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, do not defraud, honour your father and mother.'"
"Teacher," he declared, "all these I have kept since I was a boy."
Jesus looked at him and loved him. "One thing you lack," he said. "Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."
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!"
Matthew describes him as a young man (Matthew 19:16-26). Luke describes him as a wealthy ruler (Luke 18:18-27). In Mark’s account, he is simply a man (Mark 10:17-22). Put altogether that makes him a rich young ruler. He runs up to Jesus and falls on his knees before him. He wants eternal life, wants it now and so asks Jesus about it. When he calls Jesus a good teacher, Jesus responds “No one is good—except God alone.”
What do you think you are asking?
Now Jesus could have been correcting the young man, but more likely Jesus was asking: “Do you know what you are saying and how close to the truth about me you are?” This young man had fully kept the commandments listed by Jesus (Mark 10:19). However when Jesus said to the young ruler that in order to follow Him, he would have to give up all his wealth in order to have treasure in heaven and eternal life, the man left disconsolate.
That was a step too far for this man. He wanted his riches and also eternal life but Jesus said he couldn’t have both. He remains the only man to have left Jesus’ presence sorrowful, and that due to putting his trust in his riches and wealth alone. Now riches are not necessarily wrong but they do make trusting fully in God very difficult (Mark 10:23). So what does trusting in Jesus look like?
An Outcast Woman encounters Jesus!
Now we look at somebody who was despised by the world and an outcast in her community! Reading from
John 4:3-10, 23-26
So he left Judea and returned to Galilee. He had to go through Samaria on the way. Eventually he came to the Samaritan village of Sychar, near the field that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there; and Jesus, tired from the long walk, sat wearily beside the well about noontime. Soon a Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, “Please give me a drink.” He was alone at the time because his disciples had gone into the village to buy some food.
The woman was surprised, for Jews refuse to have anything to do with Samaritans She said to Jesus, “You are a Jew, and I am a Samaritan woman. Why are you asking me for a drink?”
Jesus replied, “If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask me, and I would give you living water.”
Then down to verse 23
But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way. For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.”
The woman said, “I know the Messiah is coming—the one who is called Christ. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”
Then Jesus told her, “I Am the Messiah!”
Now we come to see somebody who accepted Jesus for who he was. Jesus went via Samaria as it was the shortest route back to Galilee. It was hot. Jesus was thirsty and wanted a drink. His disciples had gone into town to get food. So he asks a Samaritan woman to fetch him some water from the well. That he asked a Samaritan would have been bad enough, but to also talk to a woman!
We don’t know the name of this woman. But by looking at this conversation between Jesus and her, we discover several things about her! That she was a Samaritan. There was equal animosity between Jews and Samaritans, hence the end of John 4v9: “(For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)” The Samaritans were a mixed race people of both Jewish and Assyrian descent from the time of the division of Israel into two parts and the annexation of the Northern kingdom by Assyria.
She was an outcast, which is why she was fetching water at the hottest part of the day! This was probably due to her sexual immorality having had 5 husbands and currently in a 6th relationship (John 4:18). We do know for sure that she was waiting for the Messiah (John 4:25) to come!
What does this encounter tell us about Jesus?
We see Jesus' genuine humanity. He was tired, drained, hot, thirsty and hungry – normal human feeling and reactions. We know Jesus contravened tradition in that he spoke to a woman who was a Samaritan and a sinner. Respectable Jewish men never did that sort of thing! Hence the disciples reaction in John 4:27! That in asking for water, he was capable of great humility by asking for a drink of water; for by so doing, he was putting himself in her debt.
Yet, he knew the woman’s life of sinfulness (John 4:17) and it tells us of his divinity, when he offered her the water of eternal life (John 4:14) would spiritually satisfy her (John 4:14)! He Loved the woman, and gave her the most revealing and explicit statement we have in the Gospels as to who he really was (John 4:26) when he said outright “I Am the Messiah!” Remember, he said that to an outcast and non-Jew! Amazing!
When the disciples returned, the woman left her water jar, (quite probably one of her only possessions) and went back to the town to tell other people about this Jesus (John 4:29-30). In the remainder of John 4, we read of the many people coming to faith because of the Samaritan woman’s testimony.
Jesus as the ‘I AM’, was ever-reaching out with an all-encompassing forgiveness and love to the poor or rich, learned or uneducated, male or female, wanted or unwanted, Jew, Gentile or Samaritan. Through his exclusive claims there is a great inclusiveness of all who are willing to submit only to Him, as both the rich young ruler and the Samaritan women found out – both with different outcomes – one left dejected and the other left celebrating! Thank you!