Jesus and the Rich Young Man (One Size Fits All)

Jesus treated people as individuals. He responded differently to different people. But what would have happened if Jesus had tried to use a one-size-fits-all approach to ministry? Here’s how I imagine Mark 10:17-22 (the Rich Young Man) might have turned out. [ NOTE: if you don’t know the original story please read it first ]

As Jesus was starting out on his way to Jerusalem, a rich young man came running up to him, knelt down, and asked, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

“Why do you call me good?” Jesus asked. “Only God is truly good. But to answer your question, you know the commandments. ‘You must not murder. You must not commit adultery. You must not steal. You must not testify falsely. You must not cheat anyone. Honour your father and mother.'”

“Teacher,” the man replied, “I’ve obeyed all these commandments since I was young.”

Jesus looked at the man, and rose to the challenge. “Really. You’ve kept all of them?”

“Yes Teacher. My parents taught me to follow the laws of Moses.”

“Ok, well how about this? Have you ever been angry with anyone?” asked Jesus.

“No Teacher,” he replied. “To be perfectly honest, my life has been fairly easy. I’ve never had any reason to be angry.”

“What about lust then?” asked Jesus. “You must have looked lustfully at a woman at least once?”

“Well,” said the man, “I’ve felt temptations from time to time, but my parents always taught me that temptation was not the same as sin.”

Jesus frowned. “Ok, I’ll give you that one. But all have sinned and fall short of God’s glorious standard, so I know you’re a sinner.” Jesus paused for a moment, then he smiled at the man. “I bet you’re pretty pleased with yourself for keeping all those commandments?”

“Well I do try to honour God.”

“There, see? Pride! The scriptures say, ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’ So you’re a sinner then! See?”

“Um, I guess so.”

“Good. Well the good news is that I’m going to save you from your sin, so all you have to do is accept, believe and confess. Here, read this prayer.”

“So… if I say this prayer I’ll inherit eternal life?”


“And that’s all there is to it? No hidden clauses or small print? Can I keep my possessions? Do I have to change anything else?”

“What have possessions got to do with eternal life? No it’s all on the inside. You just need to believe in me.”

At this the man’s face lit up, and he went away happy, for he had many possessions.

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