Letting Go

You Lack One Thing

Scripture reference: Mark 10:13-31

[You will need to have available a set of child’s “water wings”]
Jesus responds to the rich young ruler. Illustration: The Bowker Bible.Mortier

Can you tell me what I have in my hand? [Water wings]

What are they for?

When your mom or dad think you’re ready to learn to swim, off you go, maybe to the beach or to a big swimming pool. You wriggle into your swimsuit, and if you have water wings, you slip them on next—and then—a big person shows you how to do all kinds of things that help you get ready for real swimming: blowing bubbles, ducking your head under the water and counting your teacher’s fingers, floating, pretending you’re a jellyfish or a frog, and kicking your legs…

And, for a while, your water wings are so important—so is holding on to your teacher’s hand. Soon, you can do so many things in the water—PERHAPS!—you’re ready to swim!!

But—you won’t know for sure that you’re really ready until you take off your water wings and let go of your teacher’s hand and dive in! You just have to let go!


A rich young man came to see Jesus. He thought he was ready to follow Jesus. He was sure he was ready to follow him. “Teacher,” he said, “I’ve done everything I need to do! I’ve been a good person since I was a boy; I never say bad words, I love my neighbours; I don’t steal; I love my mom and my dad; I never cheat; and I’ve never killed anybody. Now, how do I get into heaven?”

Jesus looked at the young man, and he looked right into his heart. “Are you really ready?” he asked. “Good, sell everything you have and give it to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

The young man looked at Jesus. What? – Give away his money, the most important thing he owned? SELL EVERYTHING? Oh, no! He needed his money; he couldn’t let go of his riches – not yet!! He wasn’t really ready to let go, after all. And so he went away sadly and did not follow Jesus.

Note: in the context of the times, the young ruler had, in fact, done everything that was required of him  (by Sanhedrin law) to enter heaven and achieve eternal life. He felt, somehow, that it wasn’t enough, and felt the need to take another step – but even after Jesus spoke to him, could not release the most important thing in his life. (In his case, it was wealth) to let go completely and follow Jesus. Even the disciples who, too, had been brought up in that culture and tradition were amazed that this good man who had done it all since he was a boy, had not yet “qualified” for eternal reward.

Watch International Media Ministries’ mini-video of  ” The Rich Young Ruler.”

And… a 3.5 minute modern-day look at what could have happened after the rich young ruler left Jesus’ presence.