“Jesus looked at him and loved him.” Mark 1:23a

With eyes filled with compassion, perhaps even tears, His heart sank with sorrow. Jesus knew

The Cash or The Cross?

The Cash or The Cross?

exactly what the rich young ruler lacked. He even had the answer. Indeed, He was the answer. Sadly, the young ruler trusted his treasures more. This was no secret to Jesus. He saw right through this greedy guy. Jesus loved him regardless. If there were any doubt, that look said it all. The eyes of Jesus could be read like a book.

Perhaps you know this look. It finds its way on your face when words don’t come easy, when tragedy creeps on your doorstep, or when your heart breaks more than you can stand. The eyes say everything. They become windows into the soul.

We’ve all been there: at the bedside of a loved one who is terminally ill; at the airport bidding a final farewell; at the coffee shop when a friend confesses to an affair; in the driveway when Dad leaves drunk or, perhaps, in the bedroom, when your teen announces she’s pregnant. It’s in moments like these, the lips are still, the lump surfaces in your throat and the eyes get misty. There are no words, just that look, speaking louder than any mouth ever could and expressing all the heart wishes to say.

Did the rich young ruler see it? Could he read through the mist of those almond-shaped windows? Did he see the hurt? Could he feel the pain? Or did he simply turn away? It’s possible that he could not face the Lord eye to eye – especially those eyes. It may have been more than he could bear.

It is one of the saddest stories ever told. A young man begs for an answer he refuses to hear. He goes straight to the source. “What must I do to be saved?” he asks Jesus. As much as his life was in order, one would think he had this figured out as well. He was prominent and prosperous overachiever. He was also a model citizen, having followed the law to the tee. And though this respectable fellow seemed to have the world by the tail, he was lacking. He had to have known it, or he never would’ve fallen at Jesus’ feet in the first place.

“Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me.” (Mark 10:21)

The rich ruler had a choice to make: the cash or the cross. It’s not that cash is evil, but the love of it leads to all kinds. And when one chooses cash over the cross, the soul is left bankrupt in the end. As for the young ruler, he made a dreadful choice. He trusted his silver more than the Savior. As a result, he went away very sad.

The look was not Jesus’ last appeal to the rich young ruler. His plea only grew more desperate. With a bleeding heart, He cried from Calvary’s hill. That’s where the Savior took up His cross. I can’t help but wonder if the rich young ruler was there. Did he witness the mocking and beating? Did he see the crown of thorns jammed into His bloody brow? Did he watch the pounding of the stakes? Did he hear the agony when Jesus cried, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”

There is no record of the rich young ruler ever being there. We’ll never know for sure. What is certain, though, he heard the news. And surely, he never forgot that “look” from the One who loved him like no other. There was no escaping it. A choice had to be made: the cash or the cross. Which will you choose?


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