The plot of the film Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade centers around a quest for the Holy Grail, the cup Christ drank from at the Last Supper. During the movie's climax, a character named Donovan (one of the bad guys) must choose the real cup from a table filled with fakes. It's a test of his worthiness to find the Grail--and he fails it. As a result, his body disintegrates to dust and he dies.
Choosing what to treasure has eternal consequences. In today’s reading, a rich young man chose poorly. He came to Jesus to ask, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” (v. 18). Jesus responded that he would need to keep the commandments perfectly (v. 20). He knew salvation is by grace alone, not works. He knew keeping the commandments perfectly is impossible. So why did Jesus say this? In order to expose the man’s deeper spiritual problem.
When the young man claimed to have done so (v. 21), Jesus put his works to the test. He challenged him to sell all his possessions and follow Him (v. 22). The deeper question here was: What did the man truly value most?
As it turned out, he valued his material riches above “treasure in heaven” (v. 23). He chose wrongly. In practice, he loved and trusted in his money more than he loved and trusted in God. If he couldn’t obey the greatest commandment, how could he claim to have obeyed the others?
In the rest of the passage, Jesus taught His disciples what we’ve already studied—how money competes for our spiritual allegiance and how the love of money tempts us to turn away from the Lord (vv. 24–27). The good news is that those who choose correctly in this area will gain an eternal reward (vv. 28–30).
The short poem “Wealth” by American writer Langston Hughes affirms the futility of trusting in riches. It concludes:
“Halos of kindness
Than crowns of gold,
Than rich diamonds
The simple dew
If you wish, look up the rest of this poem and ponder its simple yet profound insights.