Christianity 201

October 14, 2012

The Rich Young Ruler: An Alternate Ending

Today, the scripture passage in question is not in green, because it’s been slightly amended. We have to be careful about writing ‘speculative’ scripture, because the stories we have are complete and perfect in and of themselves, but I found this in the archives at Thinking Out Loud, and thought I would share it here.


I’m really enjoying the book He Loves Me by Wayne Jacobsen, which I’m reading slowly, devotionally, a couple of chapters per day. Last night I read Wayne’s treatment of the story of the rich, young CEO found in Mark 10.

We tend to treat this young man as having two options: (1) Sell everything as instructed, which he was asked to do; or (2) Walk away, which he did. Wayne suggests a third possibility. Here’s how your Bible might look if verse 22 is switched for verse 22B

17 As He was starting out, a man came running to Him and knelt down asking, “Good Teacher, what must I do to get to heaven?”
18 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus asked. “Only God is truly good!
19 “But as for your question — you know the commandments: don’t kill, don’t commit adultery, don’t steal, don’t lie, don’t cheat, respect your father and mother.”
20 “Teacher,” the man replied, “I’ve never once broken a single one of those.”
21 Jesus felt genuine love for this man as He looked at him. “You lack only thing; go and sell all you have and give the money to the poor — and you will have treasure in heaven — and come, follow Me.
22B The man looked Jesus in the eye and said, “I can’t do that.” To which Jesus answered, “Good. Then stop doing all the other silly things you’re trying to do to earn God’s favour. Stop striving. Stop pretending. Stop trying to earn that which you can never earn.”

At that, the man could have walked away with the justification he was seeking. Wayne explains on page 77:

“The man understood the lesson, but missed the point. Jesus wasn’t trying to be mean… He raised the bar beyond the man’s ability to get over it precisely because Jesus wanted him to stop trying. The gift he offered the man was to be free of the incredible burden of having to earn God’s love by his own efforts. He was caught in his own doing and Jesus was trying to free him.”

Personal observation: Jesus gives the “follow me” invitation used in the calling of the disciples. As events unfolded at Jerusalem, The Twelve were soon going to be short one man. Debate continues whether the apostles should have chosen Matthias, or whether Paul was the designated 12th apostle. I wonder if the rich young CEO could have actually had the option to be one of Jesus’ 12 disciples — and turned it down! If so, it was that young man’s great loss!