The rich young ruler had one thing lacking.
The man had everything going for him – but one thing. He was young and wealthy. His entire life was ahead of him. He was a ruler in the synogogue, and he knew the scriptures. Yet his positon, prestige, and wealth left him empty inside. This rich young ruler came to the right person when he came to Jesus. He asked the right question, and he got the right answer.
He wanted to know what he had to do to inherit eternal life. First, Jesus told him to obey the commandments, specifically listing six of the ten.
He replied “I’ve done all of these since I was a youth.”
Of course, Jesus knew this. He also knew the man’s heart, because He is God. Jesus knew this was a heart issue. That’s usually where we fall short as well.
“There is one thing you lack,” Jesus told him. “Go sell all that you have, and give it to the poor, and you will have treasure in Heaven. Then come and follow Me.”
The story tells us that the man went away sorrowful because he had great possessions. Instead of being glad he had so much to give away, he was sad. It also seems that there was no point in trying to follow the Master unless he first sold what he had and gave it to the poor.
Have you ever wondered what happened to that rich young man? I have. Just because he went away sad doesn’t mean that he could not come back. Have you ever wondered what you’d do with a million bucks if it were just handed to you? I think about that sometimes (the rich young man and the million bucks). What we do with our wealth says a lot about us.
Scripture never says that money or wealth is wrong. The problem is our love of money. It doesn’t matter if we have a lot or a little. What matters is our response when He says, “Sell all that you have and give it to the poor, and then come and follow Me.”
Wealth compared to the eye of the needle
Jesus also said it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to inherit the Kingdom. People entering Jerusalem had to enter through the “eye”, or the gate. A camel had to stoop down to get through that gate. Jesus said it’s easier for a camel to do this than for a wealthy person to be saved. The money isn’t the problem – it’s our heart attitude toward the money we have.
Like the rich young ruler, we have to be willing to give up what we want to have what we need. When we have nothing (+) Jesus, we have everything. If we have everything (-) Jesus, we have nothing. Our time and our money must not come ahead of our commitment to God. In today’s world, success is measured by those who come in first. Jesus said “the last will be first.” His Kingdom might seem upside down now, but the day will come when everything will be made right. You watch. You wait. You’ll see!
All photos are used by permision and are from Good News Productions International and College Press Publishing.
This blog post was inspired from a sermon Dave preached in March of 2019. He has (again) graciously permitted me to use notes I took from his sermon for this post.