Every body has their own form of “zen”. It’s that activity or thing that enables you to completely relax and forget about all the stresses of “mommying” or work or that family member that is driving you crazy. For some, it’s reading. For some it’s a relaxing bath. For some it’s exercise. For some it’s sitting on the park bench watching everyone whose thing is exercise. For me, one of the things that helps me “zen out” is a massage.
I remember when I first went to get a massage. I was incredibly creeped out at the idea of being rubbed on for an hour by a complete stranger. Am I the only one who broke out in sweats at the idea of being basically naked in front of a stranger while being pushed and poked for “relaxation”. That sounded like the exact opposite of relaxation. That sounded like my equivalent of Chinese water torture. This whole idea seemed ridiculous to me. Some person that you’ve never met is supposed to be able to “feel tension in your body, sense a pressure point and release that tension by applying pressure” (read all of that with the most arrogant, condescending voice in your head because that’s how I felt towards the idea). And then I went… you all know what happened next. I WAS HOOKED! Why had it taken me so long to try this?! This was life changing. I laid on this table for an hour but it felt like I was there for 10 minutes. I didn’t want it to stop! I was so relaxed. I love massages!
I am not the kind that loves the painful massages. You’re not going to see me waiting in line to have some 300 pound guy walk on my back because it’s good for my aching muscles. I am a feel-good massager. I like to be pampered with light to medium pressure rubs while soaking my feet in water infused with essential oils whilest being serenaded by easy listening instrumental music in a dark room lit only with a candle wall feature designed to set the client at ease. This is the only kind of massage that is worth the money to me…normally.
I recently went to visit a friend of mine from church that runs a massage business. It seemed like every other person I talked to had gone to see her and just raved about her, so I finally decided I would see what all the fuss was about. Believe me when I tell you, I have never had a massage as amazing as the one I received from Holly (if you are in the DFW area, you have to check out Sanctuary Massage and Wellness…trust me. She found pressure points I had NEVER known existed! The first few minutes were somewhat painful, but the good kind of painful, ya know? She found a spot and just hung out there for a bit until, finally, it was like I breathed out a long exhale and all of the tension that I hadn’t even realized was built up just vanished out of that one spot completely. She would pin point somewhere that no one else had ever seen or been able to detect and place her fingers in the exact correct position. Then she would apply pressure… and then more pressure…and then MORE pressure. It hurt but when it was done, there was more flexibility, more relaxation…more health than when I had come to her. She found an area that NEEDED improvement…that I had no knowledge was even in error until she started trying to improve it.
In Mark 10, there is a very well known story. It’s unfortunately a tragic story though. Throughout the Bible, we see story after story of people that searched Jesus out and were healed both physically and spiritually. People like Zacheus, Niccodemus, and my favorites, Mary and Martha. I love their story so much. How Jesus showed them how to love people like He did (if you missed that post, you can read it here). I find it so beautiful. However, this story, is notorious for being one of the saddest in the gospels.
It is the story of the rich young ruler.
I love where this story sits in scripture. It follows the story that teaches “let the little children come to me”. In this time in history, children were of little value (except as workers). Nowadays, we coddle children and protect their childhood like its GOLD! Back then, not so much. It’s not that they were hated or treated as slaves or anything, they just weren’t respected or valued in the same way as other citizens. This is the understanding when we read that disciples REBUKED those that were bringing children to the feet of Jesus, but the Word says that Jesus became INDIGNANT ad said “let the little children come to me.” These children had no rights, respect, possessions or authority, but Jesus said, “whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” Cue the next guy. He had rights, power, respect, possessions and authority… a stark contrast to the children the Lord had blessed a moment ago.
We don’t know much about this guy but that he was, of course, young and rich. We don’t even have a name for this tragic figure…that seems terrible. I’m going to give him a name so I don’t have to keep typing “the rich, young ruler”…let’s call him “Rich”. He is called a ruler in Luke, but simply a man in Mark, but otherwise the story is basically identical in both gospels. In verse 17, he comes to Jesus and asks a good question, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Now, this is every evangelistic believers dream right?!!! Everybody wants someone to come up to them and say “Hey! I’m interested! What do I need to do to go to Heaven?” SCORE! That’s like putting a tee-ball in front of Babe Ruth. Surely, Jesus will recite the Roman’s Road here or break out the old FAITH Evangelism script and lead this young man in the sinners prayer! Nope, Jesus pauses and gives a rebuttal to the question…why? Let’s look at the question again… “GOOD TEACHER, what must I DO to INHERIT eternal life?” There are three things in here that stand out.
I remember my dad preaching on this passage, and I remember him saying, “He’s asking the right question” and he is, but with the wrong assumptions.
Rich greets Jesus with a favorable title, “Good teacher”. This is a title that Jesus himself used in describing himself in the Word, so why does He argue when Rich uses it here?… I want to skip this and come back to it because I think it will make more sense after considering the rest…
The second problem is that Rich asks what he can DO to inherit eternal life. We all know the problematic assumption with this right? He is assuming that he can DO something to merit eternity with Jesus.
Ephesians 2:8-9 “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God- not by works, so that no one can boast.”
Except that if we look what Jesus says in response, He gives him something to do!!! Jesus doesn’t say, “ask forgiveness of sins and know that I am Savior”. He says honor the law! He lists off 5 of the 10 Commandments specifically…those dealing with how we treat other humans. Why would He do that? We’ve all been taught that we cannot attain salvation through works.. that is stated over and over in the Word, so what is being meant here?
Rich looks at Jesus and says, “Teacher, I’ve done these since my youth!” Wow. First off, if that is true, I need to be this guys friend because he has got to be one of the nicest people that has ever lived. He may even have Jordan beat on the “good guy scale”. However, the problem still remains that the ASSUMPTION that Rich held was that salvation could be earned through his good deeds…through his “goodness”.
The next problem I have is with the word “inherit”. If you googled this word right now, you’d find several different variations and definitions. One of them is the “archaic” definition. What does this mean? One of the ORIGINAL meanings of the word and it means to “come into possession of (something) as a right (especially in biblical translations and allusions). AS A RIGHT. This word denotes that Rich felt He had a right to eternal life. He had earned it. Yes, I realize that this is more support for the last assumption, but this is particularly strong. He stood in front of Jesus and felt comfortable enough to use language that denotes a feeling of entitlement to Heaven…while looking in the face of the man who would soon go to the cross to make it even possible for people to reject Him. I don’t know if it’s arrogance or not. I can’t say that if I were there that I wouldn’t make the same mistake. One of naivity maybe? or ignorance? One I cannot say would be impossible to make for any of us at the time, but, praise God, we have the gift of hindsight!
Go back to Rich’s greeting of “Good teacher”. Why would Jesus correct him in this greeting? It’s not because it wasn’t true, but because Jesus saw the emphasis that Rich had on his heart. He didn’t see Jesus as THE GOOD TEACHER because of His nature. He greeted Him as A GOOD TEACHER based on His performance. Jesus had “earned” that title by all the good things He had done. He lives constantly in a mindset of works=worth. A product of his culture, he could not see past his own experience to the truth that sat in front of him. Jesus’ face illuminated by a small campfire, maybe, but Rich still left completely in the dark… because he felt he had the RIGHT to INHERIT eternal life. All of these pressupositions make this ALMOST right question, wrong.
So what did Jesus do about it? It’s one of my favorite sentences in all of scripture!
“And Jesus, looking at him, loved him…”
Praise God for this! Jesus knew the absurdity of that remark, but knew that Rich’s motive was genuinely to uphold the Law which he thought would make God proud. That was commendable. Not only that, but he showed tenacity and vigor in chasing after Jesus to find out what else he might do to secure his eternity. But Jesus next statement was one that diagnosed his need. He had looked at Rich, felt the muscles and found the point of tension. “You lack one thing…” There was a knot in the spiritual muscle that Rich needed to let Jesus press out in order to be able to get to Ephesians 2: 8-9. This is why Jesus answered in a seemingly “works” way. He knew that in order for Rich to be willing to sell all of his worldly possessions it would be only because he had a genuine heart change. His priority would be on Jesus and not on self. This passage is not teaching poverty gospel. We don’t all have to go sell everything we own and give it to the poor in order to “earn salvation”. We are to be generous, of course, but this does not teach us that that is how we obtain eternal life. This is an example of Jesus scanning the spiritual muscle of an individual and applying pressure to a knot, trying to make the body healthy again. This is Jesus realigning Rich’s assumptions.
This is an example of Jesus seeing a man and loving him; of inviting us to have intimacy with Him by exposing what will keep us from Him.
When I left Holly, my body ached. I actually didn’t drink enough water, so it REALLY ached for about 24 hours after she was done. Because it never feels good when knots are found. It’s painful and sometimes I just want to look up and say, “You know what? Can you just move to a different spot? I’d rather keep that knot then experience the pain. It doesn’t bother me that much anyway.” because pain can deter us from experiencing true health. That’s Rich walking away. It’s a man having seen the possibility of health, but not willing to sit through the pain in order to get it. Scripture says, “he walked away sorrowful for he had great possessions”. It’s the idea of being so close to getting what he wanted, but realizing that he was entangled in something he couldn’t release himself from. Knowing that “what could have been” “would have been” so fulfilling but unable to release the “is now”. Realizing how close one came to full health, but walking away so full of knots that you know will never be relaxed…simply because the pain was too great in the now.
I pray that I have the courage to sit through the pain…whatever it may be, so that he can knead me at those pressure points, so that nothing keeps me from a healthy and holy perspective of Him.