by Dr. Chris Lohrstorfer
A ruler asked Him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “Why do you call Me good?” Jesus asked him. “No one is good but One—God. You know the commandments: Do not commit adultery; do not murder; do not steal; do not bear false witness; honor your father and mother.” “I have kept all these from my youth,” he said. When Jesus heard this, He told him, “You still lack one thing: Sell all that you have and distribute it to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow Me.”
Love is a powerful force – it moved God to give us His Son – it moved Jesus to die for us. It moved the disciples to leave everything and follow Jesus.
But it does not move everyone.
When the Young Ruler comes to Jesus he has a specific question in mind – “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” This is the second time in Luke’s Gospel someone asked that question – Luke 10 tells of the legal scholar who asked Jesus that question to trick Him. Jesus had been calling sinners to repentance and the Jewish leaders did not like it. The question is loaded – do you say eternal life comes by the Law, and thus reject the sinners who haven’t kept it, or do you lose the Law in favor of the sinners, thus making yourself liable to legal prosecution? The Legal Scholar wanted Jesus to either reject the Law or reject sinners. Here’s what Jesus did – He said “What does the Law say?” He even asked a second question which placed the burden back on the man – “How do you read it?” In both questions – the Legal Scholar and the Young Ruler, Jesus answers with the Law.
In that first case Jesus used the story of the Good Samaritan to make His point – the Law is based on two things – loving God and loving your neighbor. Now, with this ruler – Jesus again goes to the Law – You know the commandments: Do not commit adultery; do not murder; do not steal; do not bear false witness; honor your father and mother.”
Notice two things are missing from this list – the last commandment – do not covet – and the first four – those are about God and how you treat Him. But Jesus only mentioned some of the commands – the ones the man was good at. By the way, when we put God in a box, we usually put Him in a box that looks like us. We like a God we are comfortable with, and we like a Law we can keep.
“I have kept all these from my youth,” he said.
He was a good man. He was loved by Jesus. He was religious. He was even sincere. This was no trick, he really was seeking the answer.
I want you to think about this – in Mark 10 when Mark gives us this story he says “Jesus looked at him and loved him.” He was loved by Jesus. Don’t doubt God’s love for you – even if you are not following Him. Here’s a guy who doesn’t follow Jesus in the end. He walks away – but Jesus still loves him.
You know what that tells me? Just because God loves you, it doesn’t mean you’ll be saved – and just because you’re not saved – that doesn’t mean Jesus won’t still love you.
He had the love of Jesus and he had his morals, but he was lacking something.
When Jesus heard this, He told him, “You still lack one thing: Sell all that you have and distribute it to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow Me.”
Why does he have to sell all he has? Does that mean God doesn’t want us to own anything? Go back to those commandments – what didn’t Jesus ask him about? The commands not mentioned equal one thing – this man was an idolater. He didn’t put God first – something else had his heart. That’s why Jesus says it is hard to be saved when you’re rich – it takes your heart from Him. But maybe money is not your issue – what takes your heart from God? What keeps you from fully following Him? What is the cost you are not willing to pay? That is your idol. This man didn’t put God first, didn’t keep His name holy, nor His day holy – and he was covetous. He had other gods.
Jesus was basically saying – put away your idolatry and follow me.
Turn from sin and follow me. Sin is drawing you that way – but I am going this way. No, selling all you have won’t get you eternal life – that’s found in Jesus alone. Follow Him.
When you read the rest of the text (verses 28-34) you find that the Young Ruler wouldn’t pay the price, and Peter was thinking about how much of a price he had paid – but Jesus was focused on the cross – the price He would pay for our salvation. In light of that great cost, what wouldn’t you give Him?
This week when we celebrate how God gave His all for us, let’s give our all to Him.