|“Jesus wanted the young man to understand that rigorous law-keeping could not procure eternal life”|
I was first introduced to the word ‘recursive’ in a visit to Washington DC in 1983. The word means ‘ the repeated application of a function to its own values’ and the lecturers of the course I was on applied it quite dramatically. He wanted to make the point that learning is more about discovery than assimilating knowledge. So he structured the entire day’s programme as an ambiguous meander through possibilities and alternatives. By lunch time half of the 100 delegates had walked out in frustration and only six of us lasted till the end and finally got the benefit of actually learning something important.
I thought I would conclude this post series on the Christocentric Principle with a recursive example!
Matthew 19:16-26 and Luke 18:18-30 tell the story of Jesus’ encounter with a rich young man. In these accounts Jesus appears to come across as somewhat harsh, cold and judgemental. It seems like he was purposefully setting the young man a challenge guaranteed to prick his religious bubble and send him off condemned. In the light of this Jesus’ conclusion seems to be “See then, there is no chance of a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”
I have defined the Christocentric Principle as, ‘Interpreting the Bible and the world primarily through the lens of Jesus’ Words, Works, and the biblical revelation of His Nature, Character, and Values’. In the case in question we have Jesus’ recorded words but something just does not sit right – his words and attitude seem to contradict his consistent presentation of God’s nature, character, and values. So, as I read the account in Matthew and Luke a little red flag goes up in my heart – something is not as it seems to be here.
Mark also records the story of Jesus and the rich young man (Mark 10:17-27) but he includes something of vital importance that the other two writers omit. In verse 21 he writes, ‘Jesus looked at him and loved him.’ These seven words change everything! In the light of this I can read the story again and understand it from a very different perspective.
Jesus wanted the young man to understand that rigorous law-keeping could not procure eternal life so he cited the law, elicited a response, and then showed the man that perfect law keeping was just not possible or eternally effective. He also wanted to make it clear to the young man that the one who stood before him was more than a teacher of the law; he was in fact God, the only one worthy of being called ‘good’. Then he, God the Son, made the man the offer of a lifetime – “Come, follow me.” Money, land, title, and law all pale into relative insignificance compared to the privilege and eternal blessing of following Jesus!
Mark makes it clear but even if we did not have his account we could come to the same conclusion by prayerfully applying the Christocentric Principle.
I would be very interested to hear of any other examples of the Christocentric Principle in action you have gleaned from the Bible – please let me know by posting a comment.
The Christocentric Principle in Action – More examples:
To judge or not to judge?