If I could ride a time machine there are a lot of time periods I would like to go back to, but there is one particular moment in time that I would especially stand in line a long while to ensure a spot to visit.
That's the moment where the Gospel writer Mark penned the action and thought of Jesus in these words: Jesus looked at him and loved him.
First of all, when I got off the ride and stepped into the moment I would look at Jesus' face looking at the rich young man who had just told Jesus that he has kept all the commands, commands like - do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, do not defraud, honor your father and mother - "all these I have kept since I was a boy."
After he said that, the next thing Mark noticed and made sure to write down was this: "Jesus looked at him and loved him."
I'd pay special attention to the look on Jesus' face. Was it sad? Was it smiling? Was it condemning because he already knew how the interaction was going to play out.
"One thing you lack," Jesus said, "Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasures in heaven. Then come, follow me."
At this the man's face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.
Jesus looked at him and loved him.
Looked - emblemo - to look at, to consider, I see clearly, look at in a sustained, concentrated way, i.e. with special "interest, love or concern"
loved - agapao - to love, wish well to, take pleasure in, long for; denotes the love of reason, esteem
one thing - heis - one
lack - hustereo - to come late, be behind, come short, coming behind and therefore left out; left wanting, fall short
went away - aperchomai - to go away, go after, depart
sad - lypoumenos - I pain, grieve, vex, to experience deep, emotional pain, severe sadness
He only had to do one thing. Just one. Let go of things he loved more than Jesus.
Jesus knew he'd walk away. Jesus knew it would cause severe pain to know the cost of eternal life. But I wonder, if I could see inside the heart that was looking at the rich man and loving him even though he knew this, what if the man said, "Ok. I'll do it. It will take time to sell my animals, my goods, and distribute my wealth, but I'll do it. I'll be back as soon as I give the profits to the poor. Where will I be able to catch up with your group?"
I wonder, if Jesus would have said right then and there, "No. Stop. You don't have to do that. I have blessed you with them. The wealth is yours to keep. Since you are willing to give it all up to follow me, that is just as valuable as if you had done already done it," what the man would have done?
But he couldn't and that's why he went away said and that's why Jesus looked at him and loved him anyway.
I wonder how that man's life played out. Did he still have the itch of not knowing for sure? That wonder, that nagging thought, what if I really went all in and started following him completely? Did he ever come around? Did he ever find following Jesus more valuable than any treasure he had?
It's too bad he didn't hang around just a little longer. Than he would have heard Jesus say, "I tell you the truth, no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age (homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields - and with them persecutions) and in the age to come, eternal life."
I wonder this same thing for us in 2015. When we boast on all the commands we keep and don't break and we ask him, "What must I do to inherit eternal life?" When he tells us what he told the rich young man do we go away sad thinking - Would he take everything away and send me to the jungles? Would he make me poor, would I have to be a monk or a nun? Would I have to take a vow for poverty? Would I have to drive a used car with 200,000 miles on it? Would I have to stop shopping at the Gap?
I think, and remember this is just my unsanctified think tank, I think Jesus is looking more for the heart that is willing to give up everything more than he is for the actual giving up everything. That's what I've found to be true about him anyway.
When you surrender to him, when you give him the car keys and get in the back seat and let him do the driving, it doesn't necessarily mean he takes your car away and replaces it with a junker. It just means, He starts driving it.
What are you willing to do for him? What are you willing to give up? (There is no guarantee that you would have to give up any material thing, but what are you willing to walk away from to follow him?)
Maybe when Jesus looked at him and loved him, he saw the pain the material wealth was causing the man. Maybe his eyes of love were seeing inside his heart and mind and seeing the spinning wheel trying to keep everything in order AND follow the commands.
The man wasn't sure what he was doing was going to give him an inheritance of eternal life. That was bothering him.
Maybe Jesus saw that and maybe Mark saw the struggle too. Mark is the only one who recorded those two things Jesus did and felt in that moment. He looked at him and loved him.
He looks at you and loves you.
In your struggles, in your fears, in your unwillingness to let go, your fear of letting go - he looks at you and loves you.
He looks at you and loves you.