15-Yard Penalty… Piling On

by DanWolgemuth on December 16, 2011

And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. ~ Mark 10:21-22 (ESV)

The breadth of Jesus’ compassion is astounding. In the account of his encounter with a “Rich Young Man” we’re given astounding detail. Jesus wasn’t coy, He was sincere. He invited this man to abandon his assumptions about personal wellbeing for wealth beyond compare. He loved him. How extravagant. How pointless. How wasteful.

That is, unless it’s instructive… exemplary.

Jesus came to seek and save the lost. He said so Himself. And this story illustrates the fact that not all of the lost people that Jesus interacted with embraced the truth.

The powerful invitation of Jesus was refused: “Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.”  ~ Mark 10:22

Compelling, wise, insightful and powerful were the words of Jesus… and yet the young man went away sorrowful.

Had Jesus wasted His love? Had He misplaced His affection? Hardly.

So as the headlines fill with news that outspoken atheist Christopher Hicthens is dead I would commend Mark 10 to the Christian community. I’m quite certain that there will be many things written about the disposition of Christopher’s soul… perhaps there will be Christians that “pile on,” that load insult on top of sorrow. Resist the urge.

I have yet to find a place in the Gospels where Jesus gloated over the judgment of the lost. Even while He hung on the cross His compassion extended to scoundrels and thieves. He told stories about chasing after singular wayward sheep. He highlights the boundlessness of His grace by offering it to a self-righteous and pompous older brother. Jesus loved sinners… of all stripes.

There are no parties in heaven when an outspoken sinner succumbs to the ravages of cancer; when they seem to “get what they deserve.” So, let’s make sure we don’t throw one on earth.

“Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.”  ~ Luke 15:7 (ESV)

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