Saturday, February 25, 2012

Luke Part 58: The Rich Young Ruler

Text: Luke 18:18-30

In this passage, we see an incident recorded where someone came to Jesus asking questions.  That is a good thing; asking questions is an excellent way to learn.  He asked, "Good teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?"

No rabbi would stand to be called "good" teacher, as that attribute was God alone.  Jesus questioned the young ruler's motivation, saying "Why do you call Me good?  No one is good but God alone."  Jesus was asking him if he really believed that He was God.

Then, the Lord brings the Law to answer to the question of eternal life.  In quoting the commandments, Jesus rearranges their order, showing His ownership over the Law.  This man claimed that he had kept the commandments.  But still he had no assurance.  He seems to be asking, "Is this really all there is?"

Jesus doesn't correct his understanding of the Law.  Instead, Jesus tells him to sell all that he has and give it to the poor.  The ruler was sorrowful -- indicating that his heart indeed wasn't right; it was still with his wealth and riches.

Jesus said that it's harder for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter heaven.  There are many interpretations of this phrase, but the most straightforward is: it's an impossibility.  It is simply impossible for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.  So, those hearing asked, "Then who can be saved?"

Jesus shows us that it is an impossibility for man to save himself.  "With man, it is impossible."  But with God, our salvation is not impossible!  We don't know if this man ever repented, although we do know from the other gospel accounts (Mark 10:21) that Jesus loved this man.

In response to this event, Peter, the spokesman for the group, says, "We have left it all for You."  Jesus promises they would have many times more in this current life, and eternal life in the world to come.  Note again: you cannot outgive the Giver!  The blessings we have in this life far exceed the value of the material things we see around us!

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