Menu Home

A Very Good Man

He has been blessed with a successful business. His wife and children are sheltered and well-fed. His family is respected in the community. The priests know him by name because he never misses an opportunity to pray and offer at the synagogue. Yet, even now as Baruch pays homage to the God he loves, he fears he has not done enough.

Baruch prays heartily. He is very grateful to God for the many blessings God continues to bestow on him. His parents taught him well and even as a child he honored them as he does today by taking care of his mother. He doesn’t like to boast, but he has always been faithful to his precious wife. His business success comes without taking advantage of either the customer or supplier. He confesses moments of anger but as far as he can tell, it was always righteous anger. He has never been so angry to speak ill of a neighbor and of course, never would he wish to take another man’s life.

Baruch rises from prayers still with an emptiness in his heart. The prayers, the offerings, the tithing has always been adequate, sometimes generous. “What more can he do?” he wonders. Why can’t he find his peace? He has earned it.

On his short journey back to his home, he notices a crowd of people gathering. A man stands and places his hands on the head of a small boy.  Other children are gathering around him as their parents bring them to him. A while back, Baruch heard this man speak and answer questions – tough questions. He speaks with such wisdom. On that occasion, it was almost as if he knew what the questions were going to be.

Baruch also overheard some Pharisees speak ill of him. They accuse him of confusing the common man with highly fantastical ideals and nearly blasphemous talk. They question his authority since his education was not at the feet of the most learned teachers.

“Truly, I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it,” Baruch hears the Rabbi say as he continues to bless the children.

As the Rabbi starts on his way, having blessed the last child brought to him, Baruch recalls that emptiness. The priests have been unable to provide Baruch with a satisfactory answer about joining God in his kingdom for all eternity. The priests tell him to keep the commandments and the Law. This he has done but feels no assurance. Maybe this unlearned man can answer that question.

“Good Teacher, what must I do to earn eternal life?” Baruch falls on his knees in the path of this Rabbi called Jesus.

“Why do you call me good?” Jesus places his hand on Baruch’s head as he did the children that he blessed.

Baruch becomes self-conscious and begins to look around to see who is watching. Some of the crowd stop to view this incident. Baruch knows that Jesus’ question to him have catches the attention of some Pharisees standing in the shadow cast by two buildings as the sun begins to move slowly toward the horizon. Baruch wants to be careful not to disappoint the Pharisees.

“You know the commandments: not to commit adultery, not to murder, not to steal, not to bear false witness, always honor your mother and your father,” Jesus offers his hand and helps Baruch stand to his feet.

Proudly, Baruch replies loud enough for hearers to hear, “I have kept them since my youth.

Baruch normally avoids touting his righteousness. He does not want to be guilty of the sin of pride. But this time, he feels he is on the verge of someone else confirming his righteousness and leaving no doubt that he will inherit eternal life.

Baruch watches Jesus’ lips as he hears him say, “You still lack one thing.”

Lack. One. Thing. Those words sting. Baruch knew it, though. Every time he ended his prayers. Every time he offered an offering. Every time he gave his tithe. He knew. He lacked one thing.

His emotions move from heartache to joy. He is finally going to learn what causes that emptiness. He will do that one thing and go away rejoicing knowing that he is assured of eternal life.

Baruch’s eyes are wide open as he listens to this wise Rabbi tell him what the Pharisees could not.

“You must sell everything and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in Heaven. Then, come follow me.”

Baruch’s countenance fell. That empty feeling crawled back into his soul. He looked around at Jesus’ followers. They were wearing their entire wardrobe, he was sure. Their feet stained with the dust of many miles of travel. This is a life that would not be right for him.

“It is difficult for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God,” Jesus looks deep into his eyes and places his hand gently on Baruch’s shoulder.

Baruch walks away with thoughts rambling on in his head, “He blesses dirty children who can give him nothing and curses good, godly men. The Pharisees must be right about him, a foolish, unlearned man.”

When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was very wealthy.”
‭‭Luke‬ ‭18:23‬ ‭NIV‬‬

I wrote my fictitious version this way. The rationale behind my interpretation of this account is because of the context of this passage. First, I believe it respects the authors of Luke and Mark and their literary intent. Mostly, my interpretation resembles my spiritual journey.

Both Mark and Luke account this episode in the life of Christ. Most of the context leading up to and following their retelling is different because their audiences were different. There is similarity as well in content and purpose.

Both authors are sharing the radical way Jesus’ ministry defines the kingdom of God. Both highlight this with Jesus’ audience amazed at Jesus saying that it is difficult to enter the kingdom of God. Both authors share Jesus’ answer to the question of who can be saved.

First of all, both authors provide Jesus’ direct response to who can be saved. “What is impossible with man is possible with God.” These two writers also include the account of Jesus blessing the little children.

“Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.””
‭‭Mark‬ ‭10:15‬ ‭NIV‬‬
https://mark.bible/mark-10-15

“Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.””
‭‭Luke‬ ‭18:17‬ ‭NIV‬‬
https://luke.bible/luke-18-17

This is when I realized how much this ironically parallels my roller coaster relationship with God, the Father, Son and Spirit. I fell in love with Christ at an early age. It was the accounting of Jesus encounter with the children that sparked it.

I had heard at least once that children should be seen and not heard. I’m sure it wasn’t intended to do so, but it made me feel unimportant and my constant questions annoying and silly. Yet, here was God in the flesh taking time with the children rebuking the adults for trying to keep kids from troubling him.

I determined in my heart that I could follow Jesus. He was someone I could trust. So, with this childlike faith, I trusted him completely with my life. I would go wherever he wanted me to go and do whatever he wanted me to do.

I listened to my spiritual teachers and tried to follow what they told me to do. It just so happens that the spiritual teachers I knew demanded a lot of Do’s and Don’ts and I tried to follow everyone. I kept those commandments all through my youth and even as an adult. I began to believe I was a very good man.

Then, tragedy struck. The wife of my youth and the mother of my four children suddenly died. It didn’t make sense. She was a precious individual, a terrific mother, wife and friend. Plus, I was a very good man.

How do I relate to the rich man? It wasn’t because I was rich. It is because I had kept the rules since my youth. I was a very good man and I thought he was asking too much.

I can imagine that the rich man went away but continued to keep the Commandments still hoping to be worthy of eternal life. I think about the rich man that way, because that’s what I thought. The difference between me and the rich man is that I believed and still believe to this day that faith in the death, burial and resurrection of Christ is the way to eternal life.

On the other hand, following him is much more than that. Following him takes faith. Not faith in the Commandments, not faith in my ability to follow religious rules or even faith in adhering to good Biblical guidelines. How about faith in the promises of God? No, that’s not it either.

The same faith that gave me eternal life. The same faith that inspired me to want to follow him. That faith is beginning to grow in me finally after so many years of dormancy. The kind of faith it takes to truly follow Christ and become more like him. It’s the faith that drew young Doug to him. Faith spawned by love. The kind of love that reveres Christ. The kind of love that worships him. The kind of reverence that knows he can do no wrong. The kind of worship that knows that he can handle whatever pain life throws at me.

Galatians 5:6, “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love” (NIV).

1 Corinthians 13:13, “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love” (NIV).

John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (NIV).

My love for God is the energy for my faith in Him which is the impetus for my love of others. What do you believe?

Categories: Author Confession Devotional

Tagged as:

Douglas Knight

I write about what I'm thinking or what I've imagined in an effort to regain that childhood imagination and marry with my many years of real experiences. I'm getting better at it the more I write.I am a published author of two romantic intrigue novels.My books can be found at Amazon.com or if you want a personalized copy, by emailing me at douglasknight85@gmail.com.

%d bloggers like this: