Posted by: Akash Vansal | April 14, 2011

The Lord Teaches Rich Young Ruler

The Gospel :Jesus Teaches Rich Young Ruler
In this series, we are taking lessons sitting by His feet as He teaches some people individually, personally. Today we are going to see what He taught an unnamed young ruler, who was very rich. He himself came seeking Lord Jesus with a question. This event in found in The gospel of Luke, chapter 18, verse 18 to 25. Lets go through it.

The Passage : 18 A certain ruler asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”19 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. 20 You know the commandments: ‘You shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.” 21 “All these I have kept since I was a boy,” he said.22 When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”23 When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was very wealthy. 24 Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! 25 Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” . Those who heard this asked, “Who then can be saved?” 27 Jesus replied, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.” 28 Peter said to him, “We have left all we had to follow you!” Luke 18:18-28

The Explanation : On the face, the passage is rather very simple to understand. But the truth is, it is not.  A certain ruler approaches Jesus for guidance to inherit eternal life. He address  Jesus as ‘Good Teacher’ and asks Jesus as to ‘what he need to do’  so that he can inherit eternal life.Jesus counter questions him as to why he calls Him as ‘Good Teacher’  without expecting answer from him. He goes on to add that ‘God alone is good’. By this, Jesus stresses that since he clearly accepted Jesus as ‘Good Teacher’ and that only God is good, Jesus is God.The character of the rich young ruler. From his question we come to know of his character. He is religious and leads a righteous life. Since childhood, he has been faithful in keeping all the commands that Moses had given. He fear and revered God. He has deep respect for the saints of God and here we see his reverence for Jesus in his address. MAybe, because of his wealth combined with his righteous character, the authority must have put him in charge of certain city or town as ruler or governor.  Probably, he must have knelt before Jesus while talking to Him. He has knowledge of ‘eternal life’.  For, unless he knew about that, how will he question regarding it? He knows the importance of it. He knows money can’t buy it for him. He knows his righteous life can’t earn it for him. Otherwise, he would not have approached Jesus for guidance.Jesus tells him to sell off his wealth and distribute it among the needy poor. In this way, he will have treasure in heaven and then to follow Him. We see the ruler was pained to hear this. He must have had so much wealth, that he just was not willing to part away with it. Even though he wanted to inherit eternal life, he was not prepare to ‘pay’ for it. Yes, in the first place, we have to give up ‘something’ for it. And finally as a ‘continues process’, we are to follow Jesus.Seeing the sulken face of the rich man, Jesus bares the fact and reality of the rich people. The rich people cannot easily enter the Kingdom of God or rather ‘inherit eternal life’. It is very hard, as hard as if a camel going through the eye of a needle!If the advice to sell off the riches was a blow to the rich man, the proverb that Jesus quoted  of the camel passing through the eye of the needle to stress the difficulty of entering the Kingdom of God was even more baffling to the bystanders including His disciples.They argue that if such is the condition and requirement to enter the Kingdom of God, it is just impossible for anyone to enter it!Jesus says, but with God, it is not impossible.

The Gospel : What the young man believed is what the  common man or woman in most community  believe,  You go to heaven if you do good. You go to hell if you do bad things. Well, only VERY bad things. Eternal life is a reward for what you do on earth. That’s what people tell you.But Jesus says, that is not the right way. He tells us free our life from the love and bond of money. It is not only a question of selling off the wealth. By giving up the wealth, it also means giving up status in society, becoming one of the common man. Leading a humble life, a life of contentment.Selling  wealth could pose him opposition from his family members, his parents or wife. He must be ready to face it. Giving up wealth is not easy.  Giving up wealth doesn’t mean you have to sell all your property one fine night and distribute it among th e poor. It means you should share your wealth with the needy thats all. Jesus doesn’t say to give the proceeds from sale to some ‘Jesus Christ fellowship church or Jesus Christ trust, or Jesus Christ Foundation. No. He says we need to look after the needy and the widows and those who are in distress. He tells us to be compassionate to the people in need. Jesus says that those who love money cannot in anyway be loving and merciful and compassionate towards the needy and the poor. Nor does Jesus says only by giving up the money could earn him a place in heaven. Even as we treat the needy with love, we should be following Jesus. We should be obedient to Him. Charity alone will not earn an entry to heaven. Are you ready to free your life from the bondage of wealth and care for the needy?He concludes with two commands. “Come”  & “ follow”He is inviting the rich young man to join him on his journeys, to become one of the disciples  to spend time with Jesus and learn from him on a day-by-day basis. What a wonderful invitation!We, too, are invited to come to Jesus, and then to follow him on a spiritual life journey. To enjoy his company, his presence. To be taught along the way by his Word and Spirit. To become part of his great extended family, the Body of Christ throughout the world. And to be filled with hope in the closing days of our journey as we know his promises and feel his comfort with us.”Come, follow me,” is the invitation Jesus extends to you and me. Are you rady to follow Jesus?To inherit ‘Eternal Life’, we have to be sensitive towards the needy people. We need to act justly and to love mercy   and to walk humbly  with our God. We cannot earn it by any ceremonial or religious rituals, b y keeing commands of the law of Moses (given through The Lord), or by offering sacrifices, or by fasting, or by just feeding the poor, or by going on a pilgrimage. Only God in His mercy can gift it to us. And He is very gracious. He offers it to those who pleases Him.

The Bible Study:

1)The word ‘ Good Teacher’ appears nowhere in the Holy scripture than here and in Mark 10:17.

2) Salvation  is spoken of in  various terms ,  “eternal life” (18, 30), “treasure in heaven” (22), “entering the Kingdom of God” (24, 29), and “being saved” (26).

3) No One Is Good — Except God Alone (18:19)Some have felt that, by these words, Jesus is somehow denying his divinity. If Jesus had meant to do so he would have replied simply that he was a sinner. But Jesus’ divinity isn’t the issue. Jesus is calling the young man to reflect on his words. Jesus is trying to teach him. Perhaps Jesus is trying to prompt him to reflect on who Jesus is, too.

4) Why Jesus asked him of the commandments when He knew what the ruler was lacking?This was to explain to His followers that following or observing the law alone will not land us in the Kingdom of Heaven. This was mostly probably understandable to the rich man. If not, then he would not have come to Jesus for guidance. For according to his knowledge, he was indeed observing the law since his childhood.

5) Did he really keep the commands?In a very real sense he has broken the first commandment: “You shall have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3).  We are called upon to, Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.  (Deut.  6:4).Jesus  has proved to him, and  us that “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”(Luke 16:13). The challenge for disciples remains. My dear friend, is there anything, any hindrance, that you are unwilling to give up to follow Jesus? You may not be wealthy, but if there is something you possess, or that possesses you, laying it down is a vital part of following the Master. He must have your all. And he calls gently to you: “Come, follow me.” May The Loving God work in your heart, grant you the willingness to follow Him, that we may meet in Heaven to Praise and worship The Lord and remain with Him for eternity. Amen.

Lets Grow-Up:Daily In Christ- January 2010

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