The Rich Young Ruler

Rich Young Ruler

Mark 10:17-22   And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him, and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”  And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone.  You know the commandments: ‘Do not kill, Do not comit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father, and mother.’ ”  And he said to him, “Teacher, all these I have observed from my youth.”  And Jesus looking upon him loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell what you have, and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me. “  At that saying his countenance fell, and he went away sorrowful; for he had great possessions.

Of these five windows on the west side, only this one is not an original design.  Its composition resembles that of a famous study painted by Johann Hoffman in 1889. 

Olive trees and palm branches in the right panel obscure the pillars and roof of a colonnade or outdoor gazebo, suggesting a garden setting.  To the left, a purple sky hovers on the horizon above a distant town. 

The two poor figures on the left (Might they be servants?) contrast with the richly-clothed man on the right.  The person standing might be a woman, clutching her hooded robe together at her chest.  She gazes intently at the well-dressed man.  In front of her, an older gray-bearded man is seated next to a pitcher on a low bench.  He extends a tired right arm over the edge of his knee, as he looks wearily at the ground.

Again, the central figure is Jesus, without a halo.  His homespun robe is draped with crimson and a royal blue mantle.  He stands under an archway, his attention divided between the two persons on his right and the man to whom he is speaking on his left.  He gestures toward the poor folk with both open hands, but looks earnestly at his questioner, as Jesus challenges his devotion, “Go, sell…give to the poor.  Come, follow me.”

The young man stands on the right, facing Jesus.  Dressed in green with several colored mantles and headdress, he is obviously wealthy.  His posture implies that he has been holding his own in their discussion.  His left arm is bent at the elbow, his fist resting on his hip.  With his right arm extended, he leans on a low wall behind him.  It is the moment of decision, as he studies the ground and weighs the cost of following Jesus.  Soon he will turn away, unwilling to exchange his self-centered existence for a life of compassionate service. 

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