- Mark 10: 17-27
- Matthew 19:16-27
- Luke 18:18-27
Q. What can we know about the young rich ruler from these passages?
- Young man
- Very rich (Luke 18:18)
- Ruler, respected in society
- Sincere, very well mannered
- Religious Jew from his childhood
- Seeker, enthusiastic, willing and eager to learn (Mark 10:17)
- He had a great question to ask. After all, what can be a better way than to start a conversation with the question about Eternal life!
- This was not the only time, Jesus was asked this question. In Luke 10:25-37, One of the teachers of the Law, asked similar question to Jesus. However his intention was to test and trap Jesus. (check out – Authority of Jesus questioned by Teachers of the Law)
- The young rich ruler had no such hidden agenda, he was sincere in his request.
Q. What can we infer from his question about eternal life to Jesus?
- He presumed that there is an ‘eternal life’ and it is worth receiving or inheriting!
- Jews always believed that one can be justified and saved through their works according to the Law. So, he assumed that he can do something to inherit the eternal life.
- He was sincerely following all the commandments form childhood (according to him), but he still wanted to be assured of his destiny.
- There is a deep conviction in all of us, that there is an eternal life; and it is to be greatly desired. King Solomon has put it in Ecclesiastes. Ecclesiastes 3:11:”He (God) has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”
Q. How did he address to Jesus?
- He called him, a “good” teacher/master. It was a common title used by the Jews to call their religious leaders or teachers, meaning – “most excellent”. The expression (‘Good’) was used to show the reverence or respect to the teacher.
Q. What did Jesus answer?
- First, he dealt with his address, “why do you call me good?”. In Matthew, the question is little different from Mark and Luke, “Why do you ask me about what is good?”
- Jesus’ intention was not to deny his divinity. Jesus was not saying, “I am not God, so don’t call me good, which applies only to God!” (Many people, especially Muslim scholars, have falsely used this verse to disprove Jesus’ divinity.)
- Secondly, he did not intend to say that everything else is bad or evil, and one should not use word “good” except for God!
- His intention was to raise the standard with which God measures ‘goodness’. This was not the only time, he raised the bar. In his sermon on the mount, he told his audience, that according to God’s standard, even an anger could be as grievous as murder and lustful eyes are as sinful as adultery. God judges not only by the external actions, but the motives and intent of heart also. (Matthew 5:21,22,27,28) Our standard of goodness falls far shorter than absolute Good, God is and desires.
- The rich ruler was convinced that he had followed the Law from his childhood, but in a moment, Jesus showed him that he was guilty of Greed. (Exodus 20:17). He loved money more than following God, and in that sense, he was guilty of breaking the first of ten commandments. (Exodus 20:3 – “You shall have no other gods before me.”)
Q. What was man’s response?
- He went away sad. He choose to hold on to his earthly treasures and security.
- Jesus loved him for his question and zeal. (Mk 10:21) But he did not call him back or lower his demands for discipleship. (check out Seven Conditions of Christian Discipleship)
- (I strongly believe that Jesus was testing his heart, and if he would have repented for his love for money and failures, Jesus would have accepted him.)
- He had a choice to accept his shortcomings, but he rather decided to went away, sad.
- So often, when we read this passage of Jesus and the rich young ruler and we ask ourselves, “does Jesus require such a strict call for all the Christians?” We often try to lessen the demands and cost of christian discipleship. But this was not the only time, Jesus asked his disciples for such radical call. in New Testament, we find numerous accounts of people leaving all behind, for following Jesus.
- Luke 5:11 – Peter and Andrew left everything to follow Jesus
- Luke 5:27-28 – Matthew (Levi), the tax collector left everything. (He must be rich!)
- Luke 19:1-10 – Zacchaeus (Again, rich tax collector), gave bulk of his wealth to the poor and needy. (Even without Jesus asking!) (Jesus and Zacchaeus – The Guest of Sinner)
- Acts 2:44-45 – First Christians sold everything and gave it to the needy.
- Not only, first century Christians, but Christians throughout the history have gladly given up their family, home, country, careers, even their own lives in following Jesus.
- This is a Radical Call. Perhaps, the mandate for voluntary poverty is not for all, but the readiness to forsake anything and everything that can hinder ‘following Christ’ is for every Christian.
- What are the things, God is asking you to give up for him?
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