I wrote this story back in 2017, even then, I didn’t fully know how much story telling and writing was a part of who I am. The story of the rich young ruler in the bible has always spoken to me, and I wanted to explore the idea of what happened to the man who said no to Jesus. I knew that God is too good and merciful to leave it at that in someone’s life and felt there must have been another opportunity for this man. I hope that this story encourages you that in Jesus, there are always second, third, and fourth chances to say yes to him and that it is always worth it.
Approx. 7 min read
Second Chance Riches
Mattius walked down the street after a busy and exhausting day. All he could think about was his bed and the warm meal ahead of him. The sun was setting and the city around him was quieting as vendors packed up their wares and merchants prepared for their travels beyond their stop here in the small seaside city of Cappernum.
Thoughts ran across Mattius’ head of all that he had to do in order to prepare for his incoming shipment of grain and the paperwork that was piling up in his study at home. But he shook the thoughts away, he need to take a moment to clear his head.
He paused at a particularly busy and well known street corner. He was only a few blocks away from his home, so close to a warm meal, but something compelled him to stop. He looked into the old shop window to his left. He knew this shop well, years ago he did business with the owner. But from what he could recall, the man sold his shop and it was currently an empty building. Mattius was shocked to see people inside, were they even allowed to be in there?
Inside, there appeared to be a small gathering of people quietly conversing. It looked like they recently completed a meeting and the group was slowly dispersing, going their own ways home. Whatever stopped him to look into the shop window urged him to step into the building. The shadows of the evening concealed him as he walked to the back of the room, where the meeting appeared to have taken place and from where the group was leaving. In the back of the room, there was a table with a simple meal of bread and wine laid out, along with a few pieces of papyrus paper, clearly worn yet well taken care of. Was the group meeting to discuss what was on these pieces of paper?
He stepped closer to the table and picked up the top sheet of paper. Written in greek, in careful handwriting, the paper looked like it was a part of a larger piece of writing. Mattius was about to put the paper down and work on slipping out unnoticed until a word–a name–jumped out at him on the page. Yeshua.
Mattius almost fell to his knees, overcome with emotion from a past memory. He never thought he would see that name again, relive the long ago memory of the day he had regretted for the rest of his life. The memory he had long tried to repress came flooding back, vivid as the day it happened.
It was a day back in his youth. Mattius was young and talented, making a name for himself in his town for his clever business mind. At the time, he had done quite well, having a sizable business with a hefty profit margin. But even back then, Matthius always felt that there was something missing inside of him, a sense of completion he could never find even in his most successful business deals. No matter how much he sought to find fulfillment in the work that he did, Mattius was constantly searching for more.
That day, he was walking along a busy road heading into Jerusalem when he saw a man off in the distance surrounded by a group of people and children. Even from afar, when Mattius looked at that man, a longing in his heart began to burn. Drawing in closer to the crowd, he saw the tenderness of the love this man showed to the children around him. The man seemed to be teaching to the group. Memories of talks in his town came to mind, that there was a man called Yeshua who went from town to town teaching on principles that amazed the people and performing miracles that were only talked about as wonders of old. This man before Mattius seemed to fit the profile of this Yeshua. But what these rumors failed to mention was the magnetic draw that Yeshua carried.
He saw the man get up and begin to walk in the opposite direction. At that moment, something came over Mattius that he never before experienced. Mattius needed more from that man, even though he did not know what that was. Before his brain could catch up with what his body was doing, Mattius was running up to Yeshua, overcome with the longing and desire that this man’s presence had woken up within him.
Before he knew it, Mattius came face to face with Yeshua and fell to his knees, overcome with emotion. “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Mattius couldn’t seem to control the words that came from him, never before had he contemplated his life beyond this worldly one.
Unable to look into the eyes of this man, Mattius bowed his head as Yeshua answered, gently and lovingly. He shared with Mattius the well known commandments of Moses. Of course Mattius had always followed them, why would he ask such a time, ever since he was a boy raised in his synagogue. He informed Yeshua so.
Yeshua paused. The crowd around Mattius seemed to still. Mattius felt a hand reach for his face and gently lead him to stand up, to look Yeshua face to face. Mattius raise his eyes to meet Yeshua’s. Yeshua looked at him, down into the inner being of Mattius’ soul. In that moment, Mattius felt known, felt loved. Yeshua saw Mattius, saw all the darkness, all the mistakes, all the faults he’s ever committed yet like never before, Mattius knew he was loved, accepted. For the first time in his life, Mattius felt truly seen.
Yeshua smiled kindly, and sadness tinged his eyes. “Go, sell everything you have and give it to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven. Then, come, follow me”
Immediately, Mattius looked away, fear and sadness clouding his thoughts. Not that, anything but that. His money was all he had. All that he was worth was in what he owned, what he worked his whole life to own. Just as overwhelming was the emotion Mattius first felt encountering Yeshua, overwhelming was the disappointment and fear he felt as he walked away from Yeshua and the crowd. Nothing could compare to what he experienced in that moment, but to sell his life away? Yeshua asked too much.
The emotions of that memory brought Mattius back to the room he was in and the paper he was holding in his hand. What was he doing here? That moment with Yeshua was just a long ago memory, something he had tried all these years to forget. Even all that he had heard about Yeshua since that moment he had always tried to ignore and forget. A part of Mattius wanted to put down the paper, to walk away and forget again about his encounter with Yeshua.
But another part of him continued to long for that connection that he only had ever felt staring into the eyes of that man. He looked down at the paper he was holding. What was drawing him into these pages? What had brought him into this old storefront?
As Mattius began to read the page in front of him, it began to make sense to him that the words on the page appeared to be moments of Yeshua’s life and teachings captured and written down. A thought quickly passed through his mind, was his encounter with Yeshua written down somewhere, similar to the writing he was staring at now? Matthius quickly dismissed the thought, examining the stories closer. His attention was drawn to a particular story in the middle of the page. It was only a few sentences long but the words danced before his eyes.
“The Kingdom of Heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.”
Sell all that you have. Those words that had haunted his memories for so long were here, written again. Apparently spoken by Yeshua himself. But in this story, the man did sell all that he had, with joy nonetheless. And just to buy a field? Mattius knew a thing or two about a good business deal and this story did not illustrate one. What treasure could possibly be worth selling all that you have to obtain? The thought lingered for a second as if there was understanding just beyond his reach. But something was blocking his mind from uncovering that understanding. Frustrated, Mattius tossed the paper back on the table.
Mattius looked around to see that the room had emptied out except for one older man, around his age. The man sat on a chair near the storefront window and had his eyes closed, as if in deep thought. Mattius walked toward the man, and as he got closer, he noticed that the man looked vaguely familiar. The man opened his eyes as Mattius passed by. “Heading out so soon? Did you have your fill of the holy writings we’ve acquired?” The man look inquisitively at Mattius.
Mattius paused. Holy writings?
“I have to say, even after hearing the words spoken to me for so many years, it really does create something special to have them written down,” the man continued. “Its as if when I read them over and over again, everything in my mind becomes clearer and clearer.” The man stood up, “Was there anything that you read in there that stood out to you? Any questions you have for me?” It was if the man was reading Mattius’ mind.
Mattius shook his head. “Just stories of old to me.” he retorted.
The man raised his eyebrows. “Is that so? To me, I see these stories a little more than that, considering what is being brought about from them now.”
“None of them make any sense.” Mattius complained. Sell all that you have floated through his mind again.
“Ah, is there any clarification I can provide? Have you heard the good news that comes at the end of all those stories?”
Mattius bristled, “No, and I think I need to head out”
As Mattius turned his back to the man and began walking out, the man spoke to him. “Eternal life is found through great sacrifice. I would urge you to ponder what it’s worth to inherit eternal life.”
Mattius abruptly turned around in shock. How could this man have known? Fear grew inside of him, he couldn’t be there anymore.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about. Good night.”
Mattius quickly hurried out the door and into the now dark street. He raced back home to his empty house, his heart pounding and mind racing.
When he arrived, he had no appetite for dinner and went straight to his study to sit and try to forget about the last few hours, but to no avail.
Sell all that you have. His life would’ve been so different if he done so as a young man. He would have had left his businesses behind to do what? Follow Yeshua? Where would that had left him? Mostly likely caught up in the destruction and chaos that followed Yeshua’s death. Memories of conversations overheard flooded into his mind. He did know that Yeshua had died and he was well aware of the rumors about the followers that had risen up because of the incident. Those followers were blamed for the fall of the temple, for the disasters happening in Rome, and many had lost their lives because of it. Because of some crazy idea that was spread by his followers. Following Yeshua did not sound all that appealing. But maybe if he had headed Yeshua’s words, he would really have truly known the truth of Yeshua’s death.
Instead, Mattius’ life was characterized by successful business opportunity after another, long days and long nights working to grow his influence and wealth. But his life also was characterized by a short marriage and empty friendships, a life filled with money but no joy. The bigger and bigger his empire had grown over the years, however it did not leave him with much now. An empty life with nothing but his money to call his own. What was the point of all the wealth he had amassed? Was it truly meant to be used for something greater?
Mattius closed his eyes, remembering the moment he had locked eyes with Yeshua, the moment he experienced true love and connection. The vividness of the encounter made it feel like he was experiencing it all over again. The love of Yeshua washed over him, he could almost feel the tender touch on his cheek. A sudden realization washed over him. Yeshua had to have been more than the man he presented himself as. How else could all that happened be explained? He had to have been the Messiah, the one his people have been waiting for.
How could he not have seen it the whole time? Yeshua was the true treasure. He had found the treasure in a field, but he had walked away from it. He had walked away from Yeshua.
“Forgive me” Mattius whispered, “forgive me.” Louder his voice grew, calling out “Forgive me! I will give anything to find you again. I need you.”
Sell all that you have. The words felt like they were being whispered into his ear. Mattius looked around at his house, at the emptiness of the life he had tried to build on his own. It was never going to be enough, but he knew what was.
Then, come, follow me. The invitation felt as terrifying as it did those years ago. But this time, Mattius was ready to face the fear. He finally understood that there was a greater purpose on the other end of that command. There was treasure to be bought in the field of life.
“I will follow you” Mattius cried out to an empty room. Immediately peace washed over him and for the first time in his entire life, Mattius felt rest on the inside of him. Mattius put his head down on the desk and basked in the feeling. It was as if he had found home for the first time. The fear of what came next seem small and insignificant compared to the peace and love he was encountering. He was willing to do anything for the sake of the love that burned for Yeshua, for the man that died and came back to life. Selling all that he had was the first step on this journey he was now willing to walk.
Getting up and heading to his room, exhaustion came upon him. Mattius didn’t know fully what it meant to follow Yeshua, but he was ready to find out. Laying his head on his pillow, Mattius closed the old chapter in his life and was ready to begin anew tomorrow.
A few days later, Mattius walked out of his synagogue, empty of the bags of gold coins only shortly ago he had walked in with. Instead, Mattius walked out full of joy and freedom. Mattius had given all that he had but somehow felt like he had become richer is this process. Having completely sold all that he had, Mattius now had nothing but the clothes on his back and a heart full of joy. All that mattered was that he was liberated and alive again.
But where did he have to go? Something led him back to that old storefront. Perhaps he could look at those papers again to learn more about what it meant to follow Yeshua. When he arrived at the storefront, he saw the same man from that fateful night packing a large cart, apparently preparing to depart. The man looked up and saw Mattius coming, smiling. “It appears to me that you learned the true value of sacrifice.“
“In more ways than one,” Mattius replied.
“I’m heading up to Antioch to meet up some fellow brothers up there. Do you want to join me? There are some new things brewing in that city, and we could use a sharp business man like yourself with us. Perhaps you have a few ideas on how our distribution methods of our papyrus writings could be improved.”
Mattius smiled, imagining the possibilities of the future, the hope of this life following Yeshua. “That sounds like the best business proposal I’ve heard yet.”