If I am not willing to sacrifice like Jesus, I am likely not his follower in the fullest and most ultimate sense. And now, more than ever, our world could use the demonstration of sacrifice for the sake of others. This moves being good toward its ultimate destiny…
16 Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”
17 “Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.”
18 “Which ones?” he inquired.
Jesus replied, “‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, 19 honor your father and mother,’ and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’”
20 “All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?”
21 Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
22 When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.
What good thing must I do? This is all about the definition of what is good, isn’t it? What is good? And what is good enough that if I do it I can go to heaven?
Jesus helps us define it by responding that, “There is only One who is good.” So goodness is defined, therefore, by the character of God… let’s see how this plays out.
When we think about the 10 Commandments, referred to by Jesus here, they are commands which come from God himself. By keeping the commandments, we align ourselves with the character of God. Right?
Yes, but… there’s more. More? Yes, there is more to the definition of good. In fact, there is a way to take good further. Jesus defined for the man how to be perfect.
Jesus changed the word he used in their dialogue, switching from the concept of good to a word translated ‘perfect.’ It is a word which comes from the Greek word, telos. And this word, ‘perfect,’ is all about getting to completion or ultimate destination. It is reflected in the image of the old telescopes that had to be unfolded and extended to their fullest extent in order to see the desired object on the horizon.
If you want to be fully complete and mature in your goodness in the ultimate sense, here’s what to do… Jesus then told the man to give up his possessions and give to the poor. The lacking element in this man’s life was surrender and sacrifice.
To be like the Good One, we must sacrifice for others. That’s the ultimate goodness. And we have seen that sacrifice of God in the person of Jesus. God gave his only son for us, to reconcile us to himself.
Perfect. Perfect sacrifice.
The man went away. He was not willing to sacrifice.
Now, more than ever, our world could use the demonstration of sacrifice for the sake of others. Defining goodness by do’s and don’t’s at this point becomes a red herring.
If I am not willing to sacrifice like Jesus, I am likely not his follower in the fullest and most ultimate sense.
Let’s strive for perfect. Sacrifice.