Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Knowing Their Thoughts

“But when Jesus perceived their thoughts, He answered and said to them, “why are you reasoning in your hearts?” Luke 5:22

Several times in scripture we are told that because Jesus knew what those questioning Him were thinking , He was able to answer them – not in a generical way- but in a very personal way that cut to the quick of their own reasoning. His reply at times was understood only by the questioner to whom His answer was directed.

There is a well known story, oft repeated, concerning a young man who came to question Jesus. His story is told in three out of the four gospels. (Mark10:17-22,Matt.19:16-22, Luke 10:25)

We are told that a certain rich young ruler came running to Jesus and knelt before Him.
Those watching would surely have been impressed by his eagerness to worship at the Master’s feet. I’m sure an approving murmur must have rippled through the crowd as many recognized him.
The young man had the right question, “What must I do to be saved?”
How quickly, based on his outward sincerity, we would we have welcomed him into the fold assuring him that Jesus would accept him and grant him eternal life.

But that was not Jesus’ response. He knew the man’s thoughts; He wasn’t influenced by the outward show of humility.
Jesus asked the man, “Why do you call me good… are you saying I am God?”
Jesus knew that this young ruler knew the scriptures, that he had studied them diligently and understood them.
Jesus acknowledged this by chiding the young man for his question replying “If you want to enter in to eternal life, keep the commandments.”

Not knowing yet that his heart was laid bare before Jesus’ penetrating gaze, he answered, “Oh, which ones?”
Jesus named them and the young man confidently replied , “I have kept them all my life!”
He spoke truly and Jesus loved him for it, but Jesus could do no other than speak the words that would touch the core of the young man’s heart.
Though Jesus yearned to draw the young man to Himself, He spoke the words that would drive him away.
“One more thing you need to do .. go sell everything you have and then come follow me.”

Why did Jesus tell him to do that ? Did Jesus mean that no one could follow Him who did not sell everything he had? No where are we told that Jesus ever told Lazarus, Martha, and Mary to do the same, instead He often enjoyed their hospitality.

Can we ever know, beyond speculating, why Jesus gave that answer to the rich young ruler?

I believe that we can.
The rich young ruler was very familiar with the scriptures, as of course was Jesus Himself.

In Duet. 18:5-8 there is an interesting passage.
Here we are told that there were Levites who for some reason had been separated from the Levite tribe. They were living with one of the other tribes, receiving an inheritance with them.
If ever any one of them wanted to take their rightful place and serve with the other Levitical priests in the temple, they could.
However, there were two stipulations…
one – they had to desire it with all their heart,
and two- they had to sell their inheritance and share equally with the other priests the monies received from the sale.

Jesus knew that His answer would bring to the young man’s mind this very passage and the rich young ruler would immediately understand what Jesus was saying, namely “In spite of your outward show of zeal and eagerness you are not seeking Me with your whole heart.”
The young man was left with nothing to say, Jesus spoke the truth.

I love this story. It fills me with the humility that is a natural response of knowing that my heart is laid bare before the Lord when I come to Him with a concern, a request, a troubled mind, or my gift of worship. Jesus does not look on my outward body language or the words on my tongue. He looks deep into my heart and knows my deepest thoughts and intents. I cannot hide before His penetrating gaze.

I also love to know that Jesus will not give me a generic answer. He will answer me in a personal way. Even though He may well point me to the scriptures I say I know, it will be to the passage that directly speaks to my issue or situation. He will reveal my heart to ME and show me what to do.

“Lord, I pray, that we never forget that Your eyes see where man’s cannot. You know the things about us that we do not even know ourselves.
O Lord, grant that we not be like the rich young ruler and walk away from You.
May we seek you with all our mind and heart.
All things come from You, and while you have given them to us richly to enjoy, may we hold them in open hands, and open hearts ready to share them as you give us opportunity. Thank-you, Father for your loving ways with us, may we respond with loving obedience to Your word. Amen.”


Anneliese said...

Julie, you put so much thought into your devotionals. This one has me almost scared of what God must see in my heart at times. I read a verse this morning that I jotted down ... "As water reflects a face, so a man's heart reflects the man." Prov 27:19 . . . wisely spoken. Isn't it good to know that God knows us best, but still reaches out to us?
Yet, the honesty of Jesus' counsel, makes one realize that it's still up to us to make a decision when our eyes are opened.

funny... my word verification is "bilical" . . . missing one syllable

Thoughts on Life and Millinery. said...

Thank you Julie for digging deep into the Old Testament scriptures to illustrate what was really happening in this wasn't a blanket command to sell all, but an option for the ones who are of the priestly lineage.

I'll be mulling this one over today...

(word verification: ovendor. Sheesh, you Cooking Mennonite Girls can't leave the cooking options alone for a minute!)

Lovella ♥ said...

Thank you Julie. .I appreciate all the studying you do to put up a well written devotional that we can chew on and slowly discover what Jesus would say to us.