The Rich Young Ruler (Part 2)

Read: Matthew 19:20-22 (NASB)

I absolutely love the questions Jesus asks. While sometimes they are introductory or invitational, eventually they always get to the deepest need of the people who come to Him.

Often Jesus’ question is in response to a question that has been asked of Him. An effective method of teaching both in Jesus’ time and even today is the use of questions. That’s why I wanted to continue some thoughts on our last post.

Look with me at what Jesus says to this rich young ruler.

The meaning of “complete”

Matthew 19:21-22: “Jesus said to him, ‘If you wish to be complete…’”

The word “complete” here is a word that is consistently used to indicate wholeness or maturity and is often translated “perfect.” Here’s the word in Greek, with an accompanying definition. “Τέλειος    teleios; having reached its end, complete, perfect. Usage: perfect, (a) complete in all its parts, (b) full grown, of full age, (c) specially of the completeness of Christian character.”

Here are just several scriptures that are examples of the word “telios”:

Matthew 5:48: “Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

I Corinthians 13:8-10: “Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part; but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away.”

Ephesians 4:12-13: “...for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature (telios-complete) man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.”

The Father wants us to look like Jesus

It is the Father’s intention that we “grow up” and exhibit the same kind of maturity, sensibility, and awareness that Jesus exhibited. And God has done everything necessary to bring you and me to this place. Yes, we do not reach total perfection here on earth, but God has always desired that we think, speak, and act like His Son Jesus.  

This is really what the rich young ruler was seeking. Jesus knew that, and spoke the truth to him about what his real need was. Part of the growth that the young man had begun to experience was exactly because he was a person who sought to keep the commandments of God.

This man realized his lack, so let’s not be too critical of him, because at least he came seeking. But we also need to realize that being in the Word and seeking to grow is not all that God desires for you and me. He wants Christ to be formed in us (Galatians 4:19).

God won’t give up on us

Now let me conclude with some incredibly great news.

Philippians 1:6 says, “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” Our hope is based on the fact that what Jesus begins, He completes. And His promise to you and me is secure.

The Apostle John would echo Paul’s sentiments in 1 John 3:2: “Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is.”

Therefore, let me encourage you to never walk away, like the rich young ruler did. Our promise from the Father is that if we draw near to Him, He will draw near to us.

Blessings and prayers,
Pastor Gene

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