Jesus looks at him, sees beyond the public face, hears the unspoken questions. ‘What are life’s most important rules,’ the man had asked, seeing if his question could upend this carpenter from Nazareth. Catch him out. Expose him as a fraud in some way. But Jesus looks further, deeper, has an understanding that this religious expert knows nothing about. After a moment’s thought the carpenter talks of loving God with every ounce of your energy, wit, wisdom and passion, and then caring about others as if your life depended on it. The experts eyebrows shoot up, and he surprises himself by responding, ‘Absolutely. Totally right. Bang on. Loving God and others is the way to live. Much better than rituals and regulations.’
And here it is, the opportunity Jesus has been looking for, to bless this man rather than engage in the argument. To offer him life, to cut through the bluster and lead him towards all that really matters. To open a door that will take him beyond the wearying constraints of religion and rules and dogma. To offer him something beyond looking powerful and appearing right, a way to recover his life, to live freely in the unforced rhythms of grace. So much is offered in a single line of encouragement.
‘Well done, you’re not far from the kingdom. Not at all. Your eyes are opening, keep going. Don’t give up.’
Mark 12 v 28-34