He Loves Me!
This devotional is a series of excerpts from Wayne Jacobsen's life changing book, He Loves Me! Download a PDF of this book by clicking the link below.
Day 20: Raising the Bar
Coaches don't train young high jumpers by putting the bar at world-record height and challenging them to try and jump it. They put it at a height their charges can successfully achieve and then, over the course of time, slowly raise the bar allowing refined technique, practice and conditioning to help them jump higher.
But Jesus doesn't do that here. Responding to the rich man's request, Jesus puts the bar forty feet in the air. Jump that! And the rich businessman did exactly what any athlete would do, he went away discouraged, knowing the task was impossible.
The man understood the lesson, but missed the point. Jesus wasn't trying to be mean to him. He raised the bar beyond the man's ability to get over it precisely because Jesus wanted him to stop trying. The gift he offered the man was to be free of the incredible burden of having to earn God's love by his own efforts. He was caught in his own doing and Jesus was trying to free him.
He was hoping the young man would look him in the eye and say, "I can't do that!" To which Jesus might have answered, "Good, then stop doing all the other silly things you're trying to do to earn God's favor. Stop striving, stop pretending, stop trying to earn that which you can never earn!"
Jesus didn't want him living any longer under the tyranny of the favor line, but he knew how difficult it is for people of great resource to find their way into his kingdom. Such people always feel like they can earn it or pay for it. They are too focused on their own efforts and resources to simply receive God's gift.
His dependence on his own resources was robbing him of the life he sought. No matter how much he could do, such efforts would never cover the empty place in their heart that seeks God's approval. For it's only in that realization that we can discover what it really means to be approved as God's child and find security in his love for us.
That's not to say that as we love him he won't bring us greater freedom from our possessions and show us the joy of generosity, for he will. But that will rise not out of our attempts to earn his favor, but as grateful responses to the favor he already offers us.
Even when Peter started to boast that he and the others had left everything to follow him, Jesus reminds him that none of them had left anything that he wasn't replacing with far more and far better. The fact is they had left their stuff not to earn eternal life, but because of a relationship with Jesus that had captured their hearts.
Sadly, we don't get to see the end for this young businessman. My hope is that Jesus' words finally worked through his heart. But whether they did or didn't, Jesus still offered him an incredible gift-the secret to God's favor.