17 As Jesus was starting out on his way to Jerusalem, a man came running up to him, knelt down, and asked, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 18 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus asked. “Only God is truly good. 19 But to answer your question, you know the commandments: ‘You must not murder. You must not commit adultery. You must not steal. You must not testify falsely. You must not cheat anyone. Honor your father and mother.’ ”20 “Teacher,” the man replied, “I’ve obeyed all these commandments since I was young.” 21 Looking at the man, Jesus felt genuine love for him. “There is still one thing you haven’t done,” he told him. “Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” 22 At this the man’s face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions. 23 Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the Kingdom of God!” 24 This amazed them. But Jesus said again, “Dear children, it is very hard to enter the Kingdom of God. 25 In fact, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!” 26 The disciples were astounded. “Then who in the world can be saved?” they asked.27 Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But not with God. Everything is possible with God.”28 Then Peter began to speak up. “We’ve given up everything to follow you,” he said.29 “Yes,” Jesus replied, “and I assure you that everyone who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or property, for my sake and for the Good News, 30 will receive now in return a hundred times as many houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and property—along with persecution. And in the world to come that person will have eternal life. 31 But many who are the greatest now will be least important then, and those who seem least important now will be the greatest then.”
It’s here that we see what the rich young ruler both longed for and lacked.
- What he longed for VS 17
Was an answer to the question of eternal life. Here was a man who longed for something that worldly satisfaction couldn’t provide. Despite all of his worldly success he still was satisfied; something was still missing in His life. What he sought was soul satisfaction, something that worldly status and stuff can’t provide. What he longed for was a home in heaven. In truth, he loathed religion and longed for a relationship. His problem was that he sought an answer but not the Author. The answer to his problem was not a formula but faith. Today many of us are making the same mistake, we are running to the Redeemer looking for a cure instead of looking to Christ. Today many churches are following this same problematic pattern where we are pointing people to programs instead of pointing people to the provider, Jesus. Programs that don’t point people to Jesus lead to business not blessing. But what good is activity without advance? Hard work without a harvest only leads to more hopelessness, it’s what I call fruitless fever. Programs that don’t point to Jesus try to create behavioral modification without a change in belief. That’s a head change without a heart change. But if you want to change the hand you have to change the heart. Programs that don’t lead us to a personal relationship of reliance on Jesus create slaves to a system instead of servants of the Savior. Instead of authentic change, we end up trading one behavior for another. Only Christ can change you, our problem is that we are seeking a process instead of a person. What about you are you looking for a program or the Prince of Peace? What are you really looking for is it the Lord or a list of rules? What is the longing of your heart, do you long for the Lord? Our problem today is that of the rich young ruler we are seeking a solution to our dissatisfaction instead of seeking the Savior. It’s here that we see:
- What he lacked Vs 18-21
He was unaware of his spiritual condition, so Jesus brings up the commandments because you can’t understand your sinful condition if you misunderstand God’s righteous expectations. The Law should lead us to the Lord because the Law reveals our inability to please God and causes us to seek His grace. Without a knowledge of God’s Law, the cross may draw sympathy but not saving faith. This young man failed to see the requirements of the Law and so he didn’t see himself as a lawbreaker. In spite of his pious question, he already regarded himself as good. Outwardly he may have looked good but morally he was really a mess because he was relying on his own righteousness. Jesus responds negatively to his greeting of “Good Teacher” because this man fails to see that only God is good. This man saw Jesus only as a human teacher, but Jesus was not merely a rabbi, He was the Redeemer. By asking Him the question “Why do you call Me good when only God is good?” Jesus was raising the question in the young man’s mind about who Jesus really was. You will never seek Jesus unless you see Him as the Savior. Look Jesus is not being a jerk here, Jesus “loved” him enough to confront him with his condition. He provides an opportunity for this man to see what is lacking in his life. He tells him “If you want to be perfect, go sell your possessions and give everything to the poor. Jesus looked through the facade and into the heart and saw idolatry. If you are going to come to God based on your goodness then you need to be perfect to enter His presence. This man wanted to trust in rules to redeem so Jesus revealed one he had broken, he was involved in idolatry. There was something between him and God, his love of wealth. Money isn’t the problem; it’s not even the root of all evil; the love of money is. Jesus doesn’t propose some new commandment; He simply translated the 10th Commandment into a practical test of the young man’s priorities. Jesus exposed his heart and his false belief that on his own he could keep the commandments. Jesus reveals that this man was living a lie, he was living in self-denial. What about you are you living a lie, believing you are good enough for God based on your works instead of Christ’s work on the cross? God doesn’t grade on a curve, he grades on the cross. Works based salvation is from Satan, the one who wants you to waste your life working for a forgiveness that is not only free but will set you free. Christ is absolutely crystal clear here, you can’t work to gain or maintain salvation. Look genuine grace points people to God, but works based salvation points people to trying to be good. Is the way you are living your life pointing people to Jesus and His grace or to you and trying to be good? Are you pointing people to marvel at the miracle of Salvation or to the misery of trying to maintain it? I reject a performance-based salvation because the Word doesn’t call us to work for grace it calls us to walk in grace. Jesus was not making poverty or philanthropy a requirement for salvation, He was exposing the error of this man’s thinking. He wasn’t looking for salvation he was looking for Justification. Trying to get Jesus to rubber stamp his religion. What about you are looking for Jesus to save and satisfy the soul or justify your lifestyle?