And when he was gone forth into the way, there came one running, and kneeled to him, and asked him, Good Master…
This seems a better title for the subject than "The Great Decision," as we have no reason to believe that the decision come to was a final one. But the reference to "eternal life" proves how momentous the occasion was to him who inquired. Such a time comes but seldom yet it comes to every man, when he feels that everything else dwindles into insignificance in comparison with "life." As to this inquiry, notice - .
I. HOW IT WAS MADE.
1. Earnestly. The manner of the man is vividly portrayed by St. Mark: "running, and kneeled to him." This spirit is a primary requisite. Seek first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, he seized the passing opportunity and despised the judgment of onlookers.
2. Intelligently. What he was seeking was definitely before his mind. His previous training had prepared him to think of the object he sought more or less correctly. He used the word "inherit," which implied something different from "have," or "possess" (Matthew).
3. With real but defectively justified acknowledgment of Christ's character. This vague instinct which he expressed in the title "Good," had to be grounded in some true apprehension of the nature and character of Jesus ere it could be accepted as satisfactory. How radical this misconception was appears as he answers the question regarding the commandments.
II. HOW IT WAS ANSWERED.
1. With the needful correction to the question. It is of the utmost importance that we clearly perceive what real "goodness" is, and to whom alone it can belong, ere we seek it.
2. With a provisional test. The commandments; perhaps those emphasized which bore most directly upon his position and circumstances. Self-restraint is a first requisite, and that is witnessed to by the Law. But he still stands outside the true conception of "goodness," for he answers from the conventional and not from the absolute and spiritual standpoint. "The Law is our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ," by showing us our imperfection and need of a Saviour.
3. With a final test. "One thing thou lackest: go, sell whatsoever thou hast etc. Self-restraint being insufficient, self-denial and that specially corresponding with his circumstances, is invited. This was the crucial test. It has to be varied according to the difference in individual tastes, ideals, circumstances, etc., of different people.
4. By a look of love. It was spontaneous, full of attraction, and, up to a certain degree, of approval; then of yearning sorrow and concern. Such questions and such a disposition can never be received by Christ with indifference.
III. IN WHAT IT RESULTED. "His countenance fell," etc. There was grief, disappointment, perhaps even a little resentment, and also inward shame. Not decision; rather indecision. Tested by highest test and found wanting. Drawn by tenderest love of the Son of God, yet unwilling to yield. The grieved heart may yet return: its sad disconsolateness is its most hopeful attribute. - M.
Parallel VersesKJV: And when he was gone forth into the way, there came one running, and kneeled to him, and asked him, Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?