Summary: Sucked in, washed up, and blown over - that's enough to steal the song from the stoutest heart. Perhaps that's what the rich youg man was feeling whe he approached Jesus.
“He’s Amazing! He’s Just Plain Crazy!”
Chippie the parakeet never saw it coming. The reporter reported the story this way. Chippie’s owner decided to clean Chippie’s cage with a vacuum cleaner. She removed the attachment from the end of the hose and stuck it in the cage. The phone rang, and she turned to pick it up. She’d barely said “Hello” when ”sssopp!” Chippie got sucked in. The owner gasped, put down the phone, turned off the vacuum, and opened the bag. There was Chippie – still alive, but stunned. Since the bird was covered with dust and soot, she grabbed him and raced to the bathroom, turned on the faucet, and held Chippie under the running water. Then, realizing that Chippie was soaked and shivering, she did what any compassionate bird owner would do – she reached for the hair dryer and blasted the bird with hot air. Poor Chippie never knew what hit him. A few days after the event, the reporter checked in to see how Chippie was doing. “Well,” said the owner, “Chippie doesn’t sing much anymore – he just sits and stares.” It’s not hard to see why. Sucked in, washed up, and blown over – that’s enough to steal the song from the stoutest heart.
Ever had your song of life stolen from your heart? Ever felt sucked in, washed up, or blown over? Have you ever wondered if life was worth living, if you could keep life on track? I have a hunch the rich young man who came to Jesus felt that way. Let’s follow his encounter.
This rich, young man came to Jesus with A PRESSING PROBLEM (17-20): “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” This young man had a deep need. He knew SOMETHING WAS MISSING. He certainly appeared to have his life together. He had it all, but it wasn’t enough. He did it all, lived religiously, but it wasn’t enough. He felt unfulfilled and inadequate. He saw Jesus as having the answer. Isn’t that why many people come to Jesus? Somewhere, deep inside, something is wrong, and something is missing. Life is a vacuum that sucks them in, and they feel washed up, and blown over by life. They think maybe Jesus has the answer. There’s just something about Him that attracts them and gives them hope. Is there something missing in your life? Do you have an emptiness you can’t seem to fill? Are you longing for something more meaningful than your current life and circumstances? You could try coming to Jesus.
In John’s Gospel we read about some Greeks who wanted to see Jesus. They wanted to be close to Him, to learn from Him, to check Him out, maybe to follow Him. There’s just something about Him that attracts them and gives them hope. It’s similar to Don Quixote’s sidekick, Sancho, in Man of LaMancha. Sancho is asked why he sticks with and follows Don Quixote in his fantasy world. Sancho replies, “I like him…I really like him.” The rich young ruler, the Greeks, and many others FOLLOW JESUS BECAUSE THEY REALLY LIKE HIM; something about Him gives them hope. Have you ever come to Jesus? Why? So He could meet your need or inspire your hope? Or is there just something about Him that appeals to you? Did you come to Jesus, or are you following Jesus, because you just really like Him?
I’m glad you’ve come to, and are perhaps following Jesus, but getting answers and having needs met, simply liking Jesus, are not reasons to follow Him. Rather, for those who follow Jesus there is A PREDICTABLE PATH. Jesus extended an invitation to the young man: “Come, follow me.” Following Jesus sounds exciting, doesn’t it? What could be more glorious? So Jesus told the young man to sell all his possessions. Is Jesus crazy or what? Who would ever do that? So not surprisingly, the young man “…went away sad.” Why? Everything the young man owned stood between him and Jesus. It was not some blatant sin, but rather some things he just valued too much. He went away because THERE IS A PRICE TO PAY FOR FOLLOWING JESUS. And he didn’t want to pay that price.
Jesus expanded on this when He spoke later to his followers. As always, Jesus looked to the world around him for an illustration. (Jn. 12:24-25): He said, “I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.” If the kernel remained a kernel there would be no plant. Think about buying a package of seeds. What good would it do if you simply put them on the shelf and admired them? None whatsoever. Seeds have but one purpose and that is to be buried, cease life as a seed, and give birth to greater life in the form of a plant. Only through the death of the seed will there be plant life; it’s a principle of nature. Only when the outer shell of the seed is broken open will the seed produce life.