A couple months ago I accepted Nick's challenge to read through the New Testament by the end of the year. Well, I'm still working on it, though I'm way behind. Like, so behind that there's no way I'll get done in time. To date, I've finished Matthew, Revelation, and part of Mark.

But I'm plugging through anyway, even if I finish after everyone else. I tend to read a chapter at a time, sometimes just a few verses, and dig really deep into that. Reading this way, though, I'm finding a lot a value in the big picture.

Here's one thing I noticed last week, for the first time, that's really sticking with me. Matthew, Mark, and Luke all tell the story of the rich young ruler, who asked Jesus what he must do to inherit eternal life. Jesus replies with some of the ten commandments, and when the man says he has followed them all, Jesus gives him one more instruction. He tells the man to go and sell everything he has to give it to the poor, and the man walks away disheartened because he was loaded.

I know this story, I've read it before, but this is the part that was new for me. In Mark's version, just before Jesus tells the man to sell everything, it says this:

Jesus looked at him and loved him.
- Mark 10:21

How beautiful is that? Knowing that the man was just looking for eternal life, had just claimed to have kept all the commandments since he was a kid (a pretty impossible task), and cared more about his money than following God, Jesus loved him. Not because of anything he had done, not because of what he was going to do, just because.

Jesus looked at him and loved him. It's as simple as that.

Tonight Nathan (Nick and Heather's son) asked me why I loved him. And I had no idea how to answer him, because the truth is, I just do. I love him when he's funny and sweet and giving and when he's talking back to me.

And to know that Jesus loves us like that, but even more - its a beautiful thing.

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