Lessons from the rich young ruler
By Ivan Ho First written 26 June 2016
Now as He was going out on the road, one came running, knelt before Him, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?” So Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery,’ ‘Do not murder,’ ‘Do not steal,’ ‘Do not bear false witness,’ ‘Do not defraud,’ ‘Honor your father and your mother.’ ” And he answered and said to Him, “Teacher, all these things I have kept from my youth.” Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me.” But he was sad at this word, and went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.
Mark 10:17-22 NKJV
1. The rich young ruler was looking for eternal life but he couldn’t let go of earthly things to follow Jesus. Jesus never asks us to join a religion, He wants us to follow Him. In Him is eternal life, not only in heaven but also on earth. But a lot of us are caught up with the temporal things on earth and allow circumstances and ungodly influences to determine our decisions instead of following the narrow path of Jesus.
2. The young man started reading the Bible and attending church since his youth. He was committed to following the commandments in the scriptures. He did all the right things: didn’t steal, didn’t take drugs, didn’t party and attended Christian youth group regularly. But while he followed the written word, he failed to follow the living Word! There comes a point in time when Jesus asks us to make a decision to follow Him. It has little to do with putting up our hands in church. Many people put up their hands and say the “sinners prayer” but never follow Jesus. Following Jesus requires us to let go of self and reschedule ourselves around God‘s plan and purposes for our life. God doesn’t change to follow us, we need to change to follow Him! In order to do that we have to let go of certain things in our life. For the rich young ruler it was his earthly possessions that’s holding him back, for others it could be something else such as time, relationships, things we treasure most.
3. Jesus never chased after the rich young ruler. He had to let the young man go because He was committed to His cause. God never abandons his plan to chase after someone who refuses to follow him. The father never went after the prodigal son. The prodigal son went after an alternative life outside of the father’s house and ended up in the pig stile. When he returned, however, the father welcome him with his loving arms! God never violates a person‘s free will. Everyone has to make a decision whether or not to pursue God and His purpose. Going to church is only part of that plan. Attending church doesn’t save us, only following Jesus does!
But he was sad at this word, and went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. Then Jesus looked around and said to His disciples, “How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!” And the disciples were astonished at His words. But Jesus answered again and said to them, “Children, how hard it is for those who trust in riches to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” And they were greatly astonished, saying among themselves, “Who then can be saved?” But Jesus looked at them and said, “With men it is impossible, but not with God; for with God all things are possible.”
Mark 10:22-27 NKJV
4. The rich young man chose to follow his earthly possessions instead of physically follow Jesus. He went away sorrowful, possibly knowing that following Jesus was the right course yet he could not let go of his existing pathway. Sometimes when we drive we come across road sign to instruct us to change course to reach certain destination but we ignore the instruction and keep on going our own path. Any wonder why these people never reach their God given destiny?
5. So who then can be saved? God has done everything possible to save us by sending His son to die on the cross and in so doing took away our sins. God forgives our sins and redeems us from our past life. But that is only one half of the equation. Jesus was raised from the dead three days after! We now have to choose to live a new life in Jesus. Some people only deal with his old life but never goes after their new life in Jesus. Jesus said to His disciples: “Come, follow Me!”. He didn’t ask His disciples to say the sinners prayer, He asked them to follow Him. To have our sins forgiven is not difficult. I can forgive someone for his offences towards me. I can ask God to forgive him. Forgiveness is dependent on God. To ask someone to change his life in order to follow God, however, only that person can do himself.
6. With man it is impossible. If we stay with man‘s ideas, philosophy and the ways of the world, we cannot possibly reach God’s destiny. There are many things that are impossible in life not because God is unable but because we are unwilling. We tend to think man‘s ways are better, but with man it is impossible to reach God‘s destiny.
7. With God all things are possible. If we stay with God, all things become possible. What are impossible with man are possible with God. God has the power to accomplish all things that are part of His plan and His purposes. The key isn’t whether God can do it or not, the key is whether or not we stay with God. With God all things are possible!