Tuesday’s CBC devotional focused on the story of the “Rich Young Ruler,” in Luke 18:18-27. I have to thank Pastor Brian Jones at the Sunday Night Remix Church, who preached on this passage this past Sunday. I borrowed heavily from Brian's message to put the story together.
The story of the “Rich Young Ruler” tells us about a man who has everything. There are three things to know about the Rich Young Ruler. He was rich. He was young. He was a ruler. That may be an oversimplification, but those are the three things to remember about the Rich Young Ruler. By modern day standards, he would be a good candidate for “Who Wants to Marry a Millionaire” or “the Bachelor.” He had cash and he was influential in the religious community.
Yet, the Rich Young Ruler knew that something was missing. He was familiar with Jesus’ reputation or knew something about Jesus. So, he turns to Jesus and says “good teacher, what must I do to earn eternal life.” Despite having all this stuff, he turned to Jesus for answers to why he is here.
Jesus catches him off guard by saying, why do you call me good. Then, Jesus tells him that he needs to follow the commandments, highlighting five of the ten. The Rich Young Ruler wanted to justify himself by claiming that he kept those five commandments. In other words, he lied because no one could even keep one of those commandments, much less all five of them.
At that point, Jesus speaks to one thing that has a hold on the Rich Young Ruler, his wealth. Jesus tells him to sell everything he has and give it to the poor. He adds after doing this, the Rich Young Ruler can follow him.
The response highlights why this is one of the saddest stories in the Bible. The Rich Young Ruler, had no further questions for Jesus. He did not say, I am going to have a yard sale, where can I meet you. Rather, he went away sad. He did this because he could not imagine himself parting with all of his wealth.
This was not a failure on Jesus part. Jesus spoke to the greatest sin in this man’s life and he although Jesus held the key to eternal life, this man was not willing to part with his things. He allowed his stuff to come between him and Jesus. His inability to part with this stuff, makes this one of the saddest stories in the Bible.
In a way, we also have stuff in our lives that may prevent us from being totally committed to Jesus. We have stuff that keep us from being “sold out” to the one who died for us. We really need to let that stuff go and truly commit our lives to following him.