“And a certain ruler questioned Him, saying, “Good Teacher what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments, ‘Do NOT COMMIT ADULTERY, Do NOT MURDER, Do NOT STEAL, Do NOT BEAR FALSE WITNESS, HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER.’ “ And he said, “All these things I have kept from my youth:. And when Jesus heard this, He said to him, “One thing you still lack; sell all that you possess, and distribute it to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” But when he had heard these things, he became very sad; for he was extremely rich. And Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God!” For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” And they who heard it said, “Then who can be saved?” But He said, “The things impossible with men are possible with God.”
The question that keeps coming to my mind is the one that Jesus asked His disciples, “Who do you say I am?”
We should be careful of how we respond. Take a minute and reflect, how do we act, walk, talk in our daily walk? Is Christ reflected in our life? Would others know we were a follower of Christ by our actions, our words, our deeds? Where does God fit in our life?
Is Christ the center of all we do? Do we ask Him for direction daily, or even, several times a day? Do we spend time talking with Him? Do we spend time not just reading the Word, but sitting and allowing the Holy Spirit to open up our eyes and ears and bring revelation, conviction, correction? Do we spend time in personal praise and worship?
Let’s look more closely at the text and what Jesus has to say about salvation. A young person, apparently with some influence and power (he is a ruler) asks Jesus a question. But let’s examine what the question reveals about this young man.
There are actually three Greek words for “good”. The young ruler picked “agathos” which means that God ordained and planned the outcome. (Example: Ephesians 2:10 - “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Good works that God prepared beforehand, not our plans, not our desires or schemes, but God had already set in motion before we were born! So nothing is good apart from God.)
Then he refers to Jesus as Teacher which meant Rabbi. Notice Jesus’s response, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone.” Do you see the contradiction and manipulation in the ruler’s question? Is Jesus God, absolutely. Does this man know that? NO!
This man is caught up in a “religious system” and Jesus is clearly not going to agree with it or go along with it. He asks him a very clear question which should have alerted the man that he was going to need to look beyond what he thinks he already knows. The young ruler could have thought he was being respectful, or maybe it was pride and he thought he was going to be told how wonderful he was and that he was on his way to heaven...keep on doing what you are doing...you are doing great. From his next response this seems to be the motive of his question.
Let me ask you a question. When you need an answer to a question, who do you go to? Do you go to someone who will tell you want you want to hear? Or will you go out of your comfort zone and go to someone who will tell you the truth?
It seems this young man thought he was going to get the answer he wanted and show everyone how great he was. Proverbs 16;25 says, “There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.” Proverbs 12:15, “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man is he who listens to counsel.” Proverbs 16:2, “All the ways of a man are clean in his own sight, but the Lord weighs the motives.” Proverbs 18:12, “Before destruction the heart of man is haughty, but humility goes before honor.” Proverbs 16:18, “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before stumbling.” I think you are seeing the thread here, nothing is different from the Mosaic Law and the Law of Grace!
I wonder if this man even caught the Lord’s rebuke or was he so focused on himself that he totally missed it? When the Holy Spirit rebukes us, do we stop and acknowledge it and deal with it? Do we ignore it?
Jesus, however, doesn’t pause, He isn’t out to embarrass this man, He wants him to hear the truth so he will be a part of the kingdom of God. So Jesus met this man right where his belief system was. Jesus then speaks a few of the 10 Commandments, but notice which ones He talks about: adultery, murder, stealing, bearing false witness...so far, so good, most of us would agree that according to our understanding we’re pretty good in those areas (but the truth is that is a teaching for another day!) and then He also speaks of honoring your mother and father. The young man quickly responds, “All these things I have kept from my youth.” Really? This young man is feeling pretty good about himself. Jesus doesn’t rebuke him. Why? Revisit the Proverbs we just read. He isn’t out to destroy this man, He loves him.
I want to pause a minute. Jesus did not quote the 1st and 2nd commandments to love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength or to love your neighbor as yourself. Why? The man would have responded that he did. Instead, Jesus looks at his heart and responds, “One thing you still lack; sell all that you possess, and distribute it to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”
Was there only one thing he lacked? No, but Jesus isn’t interested in making a “sin list” but, instead, getting to the root of the issue, which will take care of everything else once that root is removed.
Does Jesus response seem harsh to you? Sell EVERYTHING??? Then GIVE ALL THE MONEY TO THE POOR??? Come, FOLLOW YOU??? Follow you where? How am I going to support myself? How am I going to be able to buy food to eat? Where am I going to sleep?
Are you beginning to get the picture? His possessions were his god. His self-worth was tied up in his things, his position. How easy it is for us to fall into this same trap, in our own understanding we can justify our actions,but in truth, we are obedient as long as it doesn’t cost us anything! We are willing to show up at church on Sunday and maybe for a dinner, or fundraiser. But follow you? That requires commitment and a relationship. Why would I follow You if I don’t know you and trust you? After all, I’ve taken good care of myself and I’m doing good. I’m not in need of anything. Isn’t that enough?
Jesus’s answer is “NO”. It’s not good enough. Does he really want us to “give up everything”? Yes! Do we really own it anyways? Let’s really look at that.
Scripture tells us that everything good thing comes from above, James 1:17. “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” Everything we have is God’s! Do we have our fists tightly wrapped around our house, our bank accounts, our children, our cars, etc.? God has loaned us everything we have to be stewards over them while on this earth. They are not ours!
So when Jesus asks us to sell something and give the money to the poor, whose “things” and “money” are they? If we are upset about this, as this young rich ruler was, we have a problem. God is not the God of our lives in which we live and dwell and have our being.
Now let’s go back to our question...Who is Jesus to you?
I hope that if you can’t honestly answer this way today, you will one day; He is my best friend, He is the One who guides my footsteps, I spend time with Him and allow Him to search my heart to reveal where I might be out of alignment (Psalm 139:23-24). He is closer to me than a brother, He is my Lord and Master. I am willingly His bondservant. I am in love with Jesus!