Rich Young Ruler
Grant van Boeschoten
April 15, 2011
Much of this talk is based on King’s Cross by Timothy Keller. Specifically chapter 11)
Mark 10:17–22 (NLT)
17As Jesus was starting out on his way to Jerusalem, a man came running up to him, knelt down, and asked, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
18“Why do you call me good?” Jesus asked. “Only God is truly good.
19But to answer your question, you know the commandments: ‘You must not murder. You must not commit adultery. You must not steal. You must not testify falsely. You must not cheat anyone. Honor your father and mother.’ ”
20“Teacher,” the man replied, “I’ve obeyed all these commandments since I was young.”
21Looking at the man, Jesus felt genuine love for him. “There is still one thing you haven’t done,” he told him. “Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
22At this the man’s face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions.
He had all of the rules, and none of the relationship. WHY? Because we don’t obey so that God loves us. Instead, we accept God’s love and he changes our hearts so that obedience is a natural response.
There is much more to this story than first meets the eye. To help us get a handle on what is going on here, we have to first understand the 1st century jewish culture towards money. Today there are a few different schools of thought on money.
- Some people say that having money is evil.
- They equate riches with evil, and living day to day as being Holy.
- Does that mean that all reach people are evil?
- Does that mean that all poor people are Holy?
- They equate riches with evil, and living day to day as being Holy.
- The second school of thought places value on people according to how much money they have.
- Rich people are more important
- Poor people have little value
Obviously, both of these views have major flaws.
In the first century, the culture had a very spiritual view of money. They figured that money was a visible sign of the blessing of God on people, and since God blesses people who are good and Holy, to have money is to be good and Holy.
The fellow who is being talked about here in Mark 10 clearly has money. He is referred to in other parts of the Bible as the Rich Young Ruler. So not only does he have some cash, but he is also a ruler.
So he has got a ton of possessions, he has got power, but he still needs something more. And it looks like he is desperate for it. The Bible says that he came running up to Jesus, saying “What Must I do to inherit eternal life.
You see, this guy realized that even though his culture told him that he was successful in every way, there was still something major missing from his life.
Jesus asks him, “You know what the commandments are, have you kept them?”
The guys says, yes, every since I was a boy I have done my best to keep them.
Have any of you ever felt like that young man. You have done your best to keep all of God’s commands, to do what the Bible says to do, but you still have questions. You still aren’t sure of where you stand with God.
You see, it is possible to do all of the right things, to obey God as best you can, and still not actually know God.
This young man had done everything that he knew to do, but he still didn’t know about eternal life, he was wondering if he was going to go to heaven.
And Jesus gave him some really hard words. Especially when you consider that by today’s standards, this guy would be a millionaire, and someone with authority. Picture him as a guy who is very young, yet owns his own sports team. We will say the Calgary Flames.
And Jesus says to him, “There is one thing that you lack. One thing that you still need to do. Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
Can you imagine Jesus telling you to sell the Calgary Flames and give all of the money to the poor?
The rich young ruler couldn’t either. His face turned sad, and he went away in despair.
Why do you think that Jesus tells him to sell it all?
Part of the answer might lie in Jesus’ statement, “THere is one thing that you lack”. Jesus knew that even though this guy was living his life right, and even though he had power and money, there was still something missing.”
When you think about it, that is not that hard of an observation to make. This guy ran up to Jesus with this question. His actions show that he knew he was still missing something.
You see, in life, many times there are goals and dreams that we have. And we think that if we can just get that goal or dream to work, then everything else will work out right.
But what do you do when you achieve everything that you wanted to achieve, and you still feel like you are lacking something. If you are like the RIch Young Ruler, you keep looking until you find it.
ANd he came to Jesus, asking what He had to do, so that he could inherit eternal life.
This is what Jesus is communicating to the man.
“You have put your faith and trust in your wealth and accomplishments. But the effort is alienating you from God. Right now God is your boss; but God is not your Savior. And here’s how you can see it: I want you to imagine life without money. I want you to imagine all of it gone. No inheritance, no inventory, no servants, no mansions — all of it gone. All you have is me. Can you live like that?” (Timothy Keller, King’s Cross, page 132)
How does the man respond…He hangs his head, and goes away sad.
Money had become his identity. To lose his money he would have to lose himself.
What is your identity in life. Are you the sports star, the musician, the funny one in the class. Are you the shy one, the rich one, the one with the car. What is your identity.
And if Jesus was here tonight, telling you that you had to be willing to lose your identity and status, how would you respond.
“It’s one thing to have God as a boss, an example, a mentor; but if you want God to be your Savior, you have to replace what you’re already looking to as a savior. Everybody’s got something. What is it for you?” (Timothy Keller, King’s Cross pg 32)
If you want to be a Christian of course you will have to repent of your sins. But you will also have to repent of how you have used the good things in your life to fill the place where God should be. If you want an authentic relationship with God, if you want to get over the sense that something is missing, then it will have to become GOD who you love with all your heart and strength. It will have to be God who becomes your identity, and who your life is based on.
The Rich Young Ruler had based his faith on following God’s rules. But if that is all that you ever do, follow God’s rules, then you are going to fall short of a relationship with GOd. The truth is that no matter how hard you try, you can’t be perfect.
Being a Christian takes a miracle of God. Because if it was based on our own efforts to be good and do good, then we would never be good enough for God.
That points us to the second Rich Young Ruler in this passage.
Jesus. He was young, only 31. He was rich, because he is God. He has all of heaven and earth at his disposal. And he is a ruler, because He is God, and ultimately he is in Charge.
Yet for our sakes, Jesus became poor. In fact, when he died on the cross for our sins, every single possession, including his clothes, were taken from us.
Jesus wasn’t asking that man to do anything that he himself wasn’t willing to do. Jesus not only gave up all of his riches, he gave his very life on the cross.
What can we do about this today. Personally speaking, if Jesus was willing to give his life for me, then there is nothing that I should hold back from giving to God, not because I have to give it, but I love him.
I don’t know if there is something in your life that you are holding on to as an identity, instead of God. But I do know that you will always be missing something until the point where you ask God to forgive you of your sins, and the point where you are willing to give everything and everything for God. In that place you will find a relationship with God.