The Problem of the Rich Young Man
Made Me Think

Joyful Children Versus Sad Rich Man

When Jesus said in Mark 10:14, “Let the children come to me,” I sometimes imagine what the children were saying to each other. Maybe they said: “Let us jump on his lap.” Or one could have said: “Let us show him the grasshopper that we caught today.” (Please read Mark 10:13-16, Matthew 19:13-15, and Luke 18:15-17).

“Please Jesus, bless my toy.” “Would you come and play Minecraft with me?” I often wonder what today’s children are saying to Jesus when they are in his presence. In the same breath, did you ever wonder what the children said to Jesus when he invited them to come forward to meet him? Maybe they were saying the same things as that of the modern child. Perhaps one child said: “Jesus, please take my pet sparrow and use it for whatever you want my pet to do.” Or another said: “Please Jesus, take these two pieces of fish and some bread that I have and give it to another child on your way to another village.” Whatever happened that day, one thing was evident. The children received Jesus’ blessing. (Mark 10:16). They went back to their homes joyful and secured in their entrance to the kingdom of God. (Luke 18:17).

In the following story in Mark 10:17-22, we see a contrast between the children and that of a rich man. This rich young man went away sorrowful and with a heavy burden, the very opposite of the joyful children. He could not let go of his riches. He could not give these to Jesus, or do what Jesus asked him to do; to sell everything, give his riches to the poor, and come and follow him.

It is noteworthy that in the three instances (or versions) of the same story, from all three Gospel narrations, Matthew chapter 19, Mark chapter 10, and Luke chapter 18, they place the two stories together—the story of Jesus blessing the children first and the the story of this rich young man next. I think the intention of the three Gospel writers here is to paint two contrasting pictures. One picture shows children going away joyful, and the other shows a rich man leaving with a heavy heart and full of sorrow.

So, in line with our attempt to contrast these two groups of persons, that of the children versus the rich young man, I would say it is fair to creatively ask the question: What did the children give to Jesus? And the answer is that they gave themselves to Jesus with no hesitation and no strings attached—with much freedom and trust in the moment.

And so, here are some questions for you: What are you bringing to Jesus? Or perhaps, a better question is “Which part of your self are you ‘selling and giving to the poor’ so that you are able to come to Jesus and follow him as your Lord and Savior?”


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