Following the Rules, Missing Jesus

In the Bible, in the Gospel written by Luke, we find two rich men.  They are pitted against each other in chapters 18 and 19 with only the story of a blind man healed to separate the two.  I never considered them having any relation before, but now I wonder.

The first rich man is a religious man.  He’s followed God’s laws his whole life.  He’s led a good life.  He is most likely very respectable amongst his community.  He himself says that He’s never committed adultery, never murdered, never stolen, never lied, and honored his parents since he was a child.  He is a good man.

And he’s asking Jesus what he needs to do to get into heaven.

Seems like his spot should already be secure, right?  He keeps all the rules.  He tries to live a good life.

Jesus tells him there’s only one thing left that he needs to do: sell all he has, give the money to the poor, and then come and follow Him.  The good man turns away sad.  He loves and trusts his money more than Jesus.

Jesus doesn’t stop him but comments to his disciples that it’s very hard for rich people to enter God’s Kingdom.  Only with God’s help is it possible.

Jesus continues on His way, stops to heal a blind man, and runs into another rich man.  This rich man is not a good man.  He’s extremely wealthy and well-connected politically.  He’s made his fortune off the taxes of the working class and the poor, people from his own community.  But this man is up a tree (literally) when Jesus passes by.

This rich man is desperate to see Jesus.  Jesus stops and invites Himself over for lunch.  The people who hear about it are upset.  They are mad that Jesus would associate with someone of his kind.  (Perhaps they’re tweeting and posting their displeasure about the situation.)

But the love of Jesus undoes this rich man.  He is completely transformed.  He agrees to give half of his wealth away to the poor and pay back anyone he’s stolen from, 4x over.  He discovers that Jesus is the treasure for whom everything should be given up.

Jesus assures this rich man that salvation has come to him that day.

Two rich men.  Two different responses.  

It’s not about keeping the rules.  It’s not about trying to be nice and good.  It’s not even about trying to live a decent life.  It’s about how we respond to Jesus.

Do we do good to get into the Kingdom or to let the Kingdom come? #kingintheroom Click To Tweet

The first rich man was doing good things in order to get into God’s Kingdom.  The second rich man was doing good things because of an encounter with God’s Kingdom.  Or more correctly, an encounter with the King.

How are we responding to Jesus?  Are we still trying to keep the rules, thinking they will save us?  Or have we found the One who gives real life?

Are we willing to give ourselves up completely to Jesus? We can trust that whatever He asks of us will only be replaced with all that is Good.  All that is Joy.  All that is Life.

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  • Erik Grangaard April 21, 2017 at 7:09 pm

    Well spoken Brooke, wonderful contrasts between the two rich men!


  • Lyli April 25, 2017 at 12:11 pm

    Brooke, thank you for this reminder that God is interested in the inward posture of our hearts, not our outward displays.

  • Gretchen April 25, 2017 at 4:49 pm

    Great points here- so easy to fall into following the rules instead of following Jesus. There’s a big difference. One tries to control Jesus and only allow enough of Him in to achieve our goal. The other is wholly abandoned and willing to follow after Jesus’ goals. Thanks for sharing and stirring my heart:)

  • Cathy April 26, 2017 at 12:49 pm

    Beautiful post. Great reminder that following Jesus is about following Jesus. Not doing good to get something for ourselves, but receiving freely all that He has for us.

  • ~ linda April 26, 2017 at 2:17 pm

    My deepest desire in life is to follow Jesus. It is not always easy nor do I actually do it all of the time. Yet, the desire is heartfelt. Thank you for reminding me of the power and strength in being near to Jesus.

    • Brooke Grangard April 26, 2017 at 2:33 pm

      He’s so lovely, isn’t He? Thanks for stopping by, Linda!

  • KellyRBaker April 27, 2017 at 3:42 pm

    I’m holding tight to Jesus today! So blessed to read your words of encouragement, Brooke. Visiting from #HeartEncouragement

  • Meghan E. Weyerbacher April 27, 2017 at 7:26 pm

    Brooke, I loved this. I love things that make me think and even help with questions I have wondered about. It seems it’s a heart issue then right, not merely the money itself? I have grown up in church all my life and am still digging, but learning to do more trusting and believing too. We never stop learning and oh how I love Jesus!

    • Brooke Grangard April 27, 2017 at 7:50 pm

      I think so, Meghan. I’m sure Jesus encountered lots of rich people in his day whom he didn’t ask to give away all of their money. He saw that money was holding this young man back from real Life, so he lovingly called him out. It’s Jesus as the pearl of great price parable. I love that you are digging to know Him more. You won’t be disappointed. He’s so amazing!

  • Sue Donaldson April 28, 2017 at 11:24 am

    I wonder what is holding me back on any given day? I’m grateful He doesn’t give up on me and my desire to live all-out for Him. II Cor 5:15

  • Kristin Taylor April 28, 2017 at 12:32 pm

    Brooke, thanks for linking up at #PorchStories. I appreciate your encouragement.

  • Jenna April 29, 2017 at 12:19 pm

    The tweet you made stopped me in my tracks. That is so insightful and made me really examine my heart. What is my motive in doing good? It’s easy to make our faith about us–about our salvation, our life, our trials–when really, it is about letting the Kingdom come to earth and doing whatever it takes to make that happen! Very encouraging!

    • Brooke Grangard May 2, 2017 at 8:49 pm

      So true, Jenna! It’s so easy to make it all about us! Thanks for adding to our conversation here. 🙂


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