Millport, Isle of Cumbrae, Scotland.

As He was setting out on a journey, a man ran up to Him and knelt before Him, and asked Him, “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 MURDER, DO NOT COMMIT ADULTERY, DO NOT STEAL, DO NOT BEAR FALSE WITNESS, Do not defraud, HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER.’” And he said to Him, “Teacher, I have kept all these things from my youth up.” Looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him and said to him, “One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” But at these words he was saddened, and he went away grieving, for he was one who owned much property. And Jesus, looking around, said to His disciples, “How hard it will be for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God! Mark 10 : 17 – 23 (NASB)

This episode of “Encounters With The Messiah” reminds me of a story from several years ago. As a young Christian I was eager to share the gospel with my friends who I had known through school. One in particular was quite interested in what had happened in my life and why I was so happy. There was an evangelist in town with a crusade tent drawing huge crowds, so I invited my friend along. Throughout the service I saw a change in my friends demeanour, I knew conviction when I saw it. But sadly he did not accept Jesus Christ, and no amount of talk was going to change anything. Fear had gripped my friend, fear of a changed life with a different direction.

The young man (a ruler according to Luke) is clearly anxious to speak with Christ, as seen by his haste and respectful form of addressing Christ. His kneeling and calling Him Master are what was the social norm for a renowned teacher. Even though he was a civic leader it would have been quite a scene for those who knew him, suggesting there is a social cost in his humility. While kneeling he addresses Christ as “Good Teacher” to which Jesus asks him why he calls Him Good, as only God is Good? This seems a strange question at first, but it appears that Jesus is suggesting that He is more than just a good man – that His Goodness is of God. Yet the young man’s question “what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” suggests a belief in attaining eternal life by something that he can do, salvation by works. As we saw in previous encounters Jesus is working the situation with an end result in mind. He intends to lead this man towards a better way, not by man’s standards but by heavenly standards.

Then Christ instructs that he should keep the commandments, which was not really in question. Christ knew that he had obeyed the commandments. When the young man says that he has observed the commandments from childhood Christ stops and looks at him, in that moment His heart burned for this sincere man. The silence is broken by the heartbreaking instruction to sell all his riches, feed the poor and follow Christ. He would happily follow Him but losing his wealth was too far! The young man left in a state of grief, knowing he had to choose between his wealth and Christ. The emotional and spiritual torment was undoubtedly a lasting scar on his heart, for days and maybe weeks ahead. We do not know, but he may have repented later and became a loyal disciple, or not. As Christ points out in verse 23 being wealthy (the love of it) is a burden that can sink a soul, stopping them reaching heaven.

Dear reader, how important is your stuff? Can you imagine a life without your coffee maker, golf clubs, or book collection? Most of us reading this live wealthy lives in contrast to many who struggle just to put food on the table. How can we use our wealth wisely in the days and weeks ahead, who can we bless this year?

15 thoughts on “Encounters With The Messiah – The Rich Young Ruler

    1. Thank you Sheila for reading and commenting, as always your contribution is encouraging sister. Materialism has gripped many of us in some form or other, it is up to us to be alert to it and keep it in check. For me it was the pursuit of books for a long time, but praise God I managed to turn it around and now only pursue His Word!


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