Mark 10:17-22, Luke 1:37, Romans 8:32
Imagine you’re rich: Not only rich, but also very successful. In fact, you are the youngest and one of the most influential people in your city. Whatever your heart desires is yours. You’re well respected by religious leaders and possibly hold a position of authority within their ranks, and so far everything in your life is set in stone.
Now imagine you’re this rich young ruler during the time of Jesus. Being a Jew in the first century with influence was better than being mayor today. People respect you, and the odds are ever in your favor. Money is no object, and even if you stopped working, you would have enough to live off of the rest of your life (and then some). Your whole life is wrapped up in how well you perform before others. You strive to keep the Ten Commandments (and the Jewish law), and in your own eyes, you’ve succeeded. Except one thing: you lack the Kingdom of God. You have every bit of your own kingdom, but it’s not enough. When you find out about this Kingdom called “the kingdom of God”, it peaks your interest. You go to a well known preacher of the day, asking how you can acquire or inherit this kingdom for yourself. What you don’t know is that this preacher is God in the flesh (Jesus), and His response will strike at your core. He gives you a black and white decision… something that will demand your entire life and destiny on this earth. Will you obey what He asks of you?
Mark 10:21-22 ESV
And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.
Jesus told this young man, the man who had everything, that despite his “credentials” to impress Jesus, it was not enough to inherit the Kingdom. He lacked something, and what he lacked is found by going a little farther back in the story. There’s more here than meets the eye: As Jesus was continuing on His journey, a man runs up to Him from out of nowhere and kneels before Him. This man showed reverence for Jesus, so you would assume that the Ruler believed Jesus was the Messiah (the Savior the Jews waited for). Nope. He calls Jesus, “Good Teacher”, and yes Jesus was a teacher, but much more than a teacher. This man assumed Jesus was merely a man, and Jesus directly points him to the fact that only God alone is good and has the answers. The young ruler then asks what he must do to inherit eternal life (as if our works could earn us heaven). If anybody needed to listen to a good sermon, it was this guy. But Jesus does not respond by correcting Him, but by pointing out something very obvious: He hadn’t obeyed the Law perfectly because his treasure was in the things of this world, not in Heaven. And the Kingdom of God is not found in possessions, but a person. Let’s break down verse 21 again:
And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” – v. 21. When Luke says Jesus “loved him”, it means that He intended good for him. He gave this man the honest truth about what he must do, and that is giving control over to Him. There are three things we can learn today from Jesus encounter with the Ruler:
1) Jesus calls us to give up everything that we hold higher than Him. When we sin, it’s because our desire for Christ is so weak that we run to the things of this world. Deny yourself, and run to Jesus, throw away the “sin that so easily ensnares us”.
2) The point Jesus was making to the man was that the Kingdom of God is the primary focus for eternal life. If we refuse to surrender, then we cling to perishing things. The world’s riches are fading away, “but he who does the will of God abides forever”.
3) The Kingdom of God (I.e. salvation) is not a possession we attain. The Kingdom of God is found in the gospel that is about a person: Jesus Christ. Christ told the Ruler to give up his earthly possessions, find treasure in heaven (which is what matters) and follow Him. Jesus is giving this young ruler the basics of surrender. We give up what we have, to follow Jesus every day… but he wasn’t willing to make Jesus #1 are you? If not then you are just like the rich young ruler… without salvation.