You Lack One Thing

Each of us has that one thing that really has us. It is difficult to follow Jesus closely if you delight in something more than Him.

A rich young man wanted to follow Jesus, but he loved his possessions too much. Like him, we all have something that could rob us of following Jesus because we cherish that component too much. Owning something and being owned by something are two completely different things.

17 As he was setting out on a journey, a man ran up, knelt down before him, and asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 

18 â€śWhy do you call me good?” Jesus asked him. â€śNo one is good except God alone. 19 You know the commandments: Do not murder; do not commit adultery; do not steal; do not bear false witness; do not defraud; honor your father and mother.”

20 He said to him, “Teacher, I have kept all these from my youth.”

21 Looking at him, Jesus loved him and said to him, â€śYou lack one thing: Go, sell all you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” 22 But he was dismayed by this demand, and he went away grieving, because he had many possessions.

Mark 10:17-22

While this man had everything that the world had to offer, he was concerned about what would happen when he died. Having everything in this life doesn’t guarantee your standing for eternal life. His mind turned to eternal matters, and so he wisely questioned the most popular spiritual guru of his day. 

In reading Scripture, it is always helpful to determine the context of what is happening before and after a particular passage. Why do you think this event is recorded right after what happens in Mark 10:13-16?

After Jesus welcomed eager children into his presence, he was approached by an inquisitive professional who walked away from him. The children were mesmerized by Jesus, but this rich man was unfortunately too enamored with his possessions. These youths wanted to come to Jesus (Mark 10:14), and this rich man was attempting to prove he had been morally upright since he was a youth (Mark 10:20).

In Mark 10:21, don’t miss the description of Jesus. As Jesus focuses on this rich man, somehow onlookers can discern his legitimate love for him. In the most pivotal moment of this rich man’s life, Jesus lovingly said the most challenging piece of information that he had ever heard:

“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.” 

Mark 10:21

We don’t see Jesus make this request to every person he encounters. What is the weight of that statement to this specific man? What does Jesus’ unique approach show us about his strategy?

Jesus’ request wasn’t a prerequisite – it was an assessment.

His response revealed his commitment. Jesus already loved him, but this man didn’t love Jesus. He wanted his stuff more than he wanted Jesus. 

“Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions” (Mark 10:22). This man forsook heavenly treasures for earthly treasures. He most likely left this encounter and continued to invest in what he wanted most. He never followed Jesus because he found delight in something more.