“Now a certain ruler asked Him saying, Good teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?
So Jesus said to him, Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One that is God. You know the commandments:Do not commit adultery. Do not murder. Do not steal. Do not bear false witness. Honor your father and your mother.
And he said, All these things I have kept from my youth.
So when Jesus heard these things, He said to him, You still lack one thing. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven, and come and follow Me.
But when he heard this, he became very sorrowful for he was very rich.”
Ezra closed the book and began to pace, his fingers playing with his gray beard unconsciously. He turned back to the heavy oak table and raised his eyes to the young men sitting pensively before him. “Why was the ruler so sorrowful?” he asked in a voice that could sound like thunder when he was angry.
Not a sound could be heard in the study room, either inside or out. It was as if all the universe held its breath to contemplate the cosmic question.
Ezra scanned the faces lost in thought. He had taught them well. No one jumped at the obvious answser. They were all working, digging to find the hidden meaning. He waited, he was a patient man and these young men would go on to rule the world. This answer must come from the very depth of their souls. It must be understood and reverenced. It must change their lives. Then he saw it.
Sitting in the middle of the class, a slender, dark haired boy stared hard at the floor then looked up, nodding ever so slightly. He raised his hand slowly, not from fear, but because he was still working through his thoughts. “Master Ezra,” he said quietly.
“Johnathan,” the old man barked.
“The ruler said that he kept all the laws from his youth, but the one law that Jesus didn’t quote is the one the ruler did not keep.”
Ezra’s eyebrow flicked. “Which law did he not keep.”
The young man straightened his back. “The great commandment. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.”
“Why do you say that? He was a ruler in Israel. He said himself that he followed the laws from his youth?”
Johnathan hesitated a mere second. “He put his wealth before His love of God. If he really followed the great commandment, then he would have cheerfully obeyed Jesus and sold all he owned.”
Ezra crossed his arms over his great chest and looked down his nose at the student while the rest of the class watched in silence. “Wasn’t it flippant of Jesus to tell him to sell everything he owned? How would a person survive without income, without a house?”
A rustle drifted through the room and Johnathan relaxed the grip he had on his stool. “Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?” he quoted. “Jesus promised that God would meet all our needs, so the ruler didn’t have anything to fear.”
Ezra didn’t show the slightest sign of the approval that he felt inside. “And what is the condition for this divine safety and provision? Everyone!”
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” The room filled with all the voices reciting in unison.
The old teacher leaned his bulk against the table and drilled his eyes into every one of them. “And what will you do when your hear the Lord say, Sell all you have and follow me?”