The Rich Young Ruler (Part 1)

Read: Matthew 19:16-26 (NASB)

It is obvious by reading the gospels that people are drawn to Jesus. While it is true that many came seeking healing or deliverance, there were always those who came with a questioning and sincere heart.

I believe that this man, known as “the rich young ruler,” was genuinely seeking some answers to what he knew what was missing in his life.

In Mark and Luke, we see Jesus saying to the young man, “One thing you are lacking,” while in Matthew he actually expresses that he knows he is lacking something. In Mark, we see him honoring Jesus by actually kneeling as he asks the question, and in all three Gospels, he calls Jesus “Good Teacher.”

Now let’s look at this challenging encounter.

“Enter into life”

Jesus takes a moment to put things into perspective and explains that all goodness is contained in God alone. In verse 17, He says, “there is only One who is good; but if you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.”

Jesus deliberately links that much of human fulfillment is directly related to keeping the Word of God. Here are some scriptures that help to emphasize the benefits of being a person of the Book (the Bible).

Psalm 16:11: “You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever.”

Psalm 36:9: “For with You is the fountain of life; In Your light we see light.”

Psalm 63:3-4: “Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, my lips will praise You. So I will bless You as long as I live; I will lift up my hands in Your name.”

One of the key essentials in our relationship to the Lord is to learn how to discern the difference between what things may be “okay,” and what things bring life to all that we do. Jesus was One who was alive, and full of life. People of all ages were attracted to Him because in Him was life, and that life was a source of light and joy.

Hebrews 4:12 says, “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” The more we expose ourselves to the Word of God and all that it expresses, the more we become alive to God and dead to sin. This is one of the things that drew this rich young ruler to Jesus. He sensed that if anyone might have the answer to his question, it would be this Carpenter from Nazareth, Who embodied the very presence of God.

Look at how Jesus defines eternal life in John 17:3: “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” There is indeed “life” and wholeness found in the scriptures, and making them a part of our lives reaps wonderful benefits.

“One thing”

In one of the gospels, Jesus says to this man, “One thing you lack.” Wow, just one thing? In my own life I can think of several “lacks” that I’m seeking the Lord to adjust. How about you?

One of the scriptures that motivates me to continually open my heart to the Father is Matthew 6:33, “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” In other words, we are to continually seek God’s kingdom, His rule and reign in our lives, and know that we have been made righteous through Christ. And then whatever we need will be supplied.

Jesus is after our hearts

Now this narrative has an unfortunate ending. For whatever reason, what Jesus told the young man to do was just too much of a price. He at that time could not accept the counsel of Him who loved him. Look at what happens in verses 21-22.

“Jesus said to him, ‘If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.’ But when the young man heard this statement, he went away grieving; for he was one who owned much property.”

We do not know if this man ever eventually embraced what Jesus said to him. My heart wants to believe that somehow, someway, he did do what Jesus said, and became a follower of Christ.

I think if I had been there, I would have run after him, and come up with some explanation to modify what Jesus told him to do. My humanity would have wanted to have the ministry of Jesus reap some of the wealth that this man could have invested in the kingdom.

And yet I know, that had I been there and tried to “redeem” this situation, the Lord would have told me to stop. Because Jesus was not after what this man might bring economically to the ministry, but rather that his heart might know the joy of following. Jesus knew best.

If you read the rest of the passage, you’ll see that Jesus uses this incident as a major lesson in true discipleship and a portrayal of the Father’s faithfulness. Next time, Lord willing, we will continue with this scripture and explore some other truths that will assist us in following the One who loved us first.

Blessings and prayers,
Pastor Gene

1 Comment

Ed Fugee - July 20th, 2020 at 8:58am

Thank you for your teachings Pastor Gene. Keeping you in my prayers.


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