A Rich Young Man
(Mark 10.17-31; Luke 18.18-30)
16A man came to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to have eternal life?”
17Jesus said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? Only God is good. If you want to have eternal life, you must obey his commandments.”
18 “Which ones?” the man asked.
Jesus answered, “Do not murder. Be faithful in marriage. Do not steal. Do not tell lies about others. 19 Respect your father and mother. And love others as much as you love yourself.” 20The young man said, “I have obeyed all of these. What else must I do?”
21Jesus replied, “If you want to be perfect, go sell everything you own! Give the money to the poor, and you will have riches in heaven. Then come and be my follower.” 22When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he was very rich.
23Jesus said to his disciples, “I tell you, it's terribly hard for rich people to get into the kingdom of heaven! 24In 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.”
25When the disciples heard this, they were greatly surprised and asked, “How can anyone ever be saved?”
26Jesus looked straight at them and said, “There are some things people cannot do, but God can do anything.”
27Peter replied, “Remember, we have left everything to be your followers! What will we get?”
28 Jesus answered:
Yes, all of you have become my followers. And so in the future world, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, I promise you will sit on twelve thrones to judge the twelve tribes of Israel. 29All who have given up home or brothers and sisters or father and mother or children or land for me will be given 100 times as much. They will also have eternal life. 30 But many who are now first will be last, and many who are last will be first.
When a rich young man boldly walked up to Jesus and asked what he had to do to inherit eternal life, Jesus answered without hesitation. Jesus stated only God was good.
Jesus made the point of how we can do nothing to earn eternal life. Earning our way into heaven, like the rich young ruler was attempting to do, requires nothing less than perfection.
The young man replied that he had followed all the commandments that Jesus had mentioned. His earnestness in asking in verse 20 What else must I do? indicates that he sensed dissatisfaction with his life – a void that he needed to fill so he could be assured of eternal life.
Each commandment that the young man said he followed diligently involved a relationship on a horizontal level – person to person. But when Jesus instructed the man to sell everything he owned, give it to the poor and follow him (v 21), the vertical relationship between God and man was impossible for him to bridge and he walked away.
Jesus taught about the attitude of the heart and how aware Christians need to be about God’s grace. God knows our weaknesses. He knows our imperfections. He knows that it would be easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle (v 24) than for us to earn our way to heaven.
That was why (v 26) Jesus looked straight at [his disciples] and said, “There are some things that people cannot do, but God can do anything.”
Jesus makes it clear that those who sacrifice for his sake will be rewarded. Being last now means being first in eternity.
Dear Father, Your grace is amazing. Teach us to follow your commandments without reservation simply because that is your will for our lives. We know that without you in our lives our attempts at earning our way to heaven are futile. But with you all things are possible. In Jesus name…