A Rich Man
(Matthew 19.16-30; Luke 18.18-30)
17As Jesus was walking down a road, a man ran up to him. He knelt down, and asked, “Good teacher, what can I do to have eternal life?”
18Jesus replied, “Why do you call me good? Only God is good. 19 You know the commandments. ‘Do not murder. Be faithful in marriage. Do not steal. Do not tell lies about others. Do not cheat. Respect your father and mother.’ ”
20The man answered, “Teacher, I have obeyed all these commandments since I was a young man.”
21Jesus looked closely at the man. He liked him and said, “There's one thing you still need to do. Go sell everything you own. Give the money to the poor, and you will have riches in heaven. Then come with me.”
22When the man heard Jesus say this, he went away gloomy and sad because he was very rich.
23Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “It's hard for rich people to get into God's kingdom!” 24The disciples were shocked to hear this. So Jesus told them again, “It's terribly hard to get into God's kingdom! 25In fact, it's easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to get into God's kingdom.”
26Jesus' disciples were even more amazed. They asked each other, “How can anyone ever be saved?”
27Jesus looked at them and said, “There are some things that people cannot do, but God can do anything.”
28Peter replied, “Remember, we left everything to be your followers!”
29Jesus told him:
You can be sure that anyone who gives up home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or land for me and for the good news 30will be rewarded. In this world they will be given 100 times as many houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and pieces of land, though they will also be mistreated. And in the world to come, they will have eternal life. 31 But many who are now first will be last, and many who are now last will be first.
Have you ever packed a suitcase and then had that niggling feeling that you are forgetting something? Something’s missing but you can’t quite put your finger on it.
The rich young man who approached Jesus was lacking something. He didn’t know what it was either. He politely knelt before Jesus and asked what he needed to do to have eternal life. Jesus reminded him of the commandments. The young man was happy to report that he had faithfully obeyed all these commandments for many years. Although the young man was upstanding and seemingly without fault and he could buy or had access to the best the world could offer, he still lacked something.
Jesus started to paint a realistic picture. He knew that what he was about to say would be impossible for the man.
“…Go sell everything you own. Give the money to the poor, and you will have riches in heaven. Then come with me…”Jesus said.
The rich man left deflated and defeated. Obviously he placed more value on what he owned than on what Christ offered. The disciples were shocked to hear Jesus reiterate how hard it will be for the rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. He had likened it to a camel trying to pass through the eye of a needle.
This worried the disciples and they began to wonder how people could really enter the kingdom of God. Jesus assured them that the only requirement is to follow him wholeheartedly. Only through the grace of God can followers of Christ realize and experience eternal life in the kingdom.
Lord God, You are my all in all. Your spiritual richness is beyond my comprehension. May I always be devoted to you in word, deed and spirit and may I always make your glory my priority so that one day I will hear you say “Well done!” In Jesus’ Name, Amen.