A rich young ruler came to Jesus. What a catch. You don’t get
applicants like this every day.
Rich means that could come in handy. Such people underwrite
ministries, projects, missions.
Young means energy, vision, and enthusiasm.
Ruler indicates influence, prestige, prominence.
Furthermore, Jesus loved him. The young man was devoted to keeping
the Law of God.
So he comes to Jesus, having heard that Jesus was the way, the
truth, and the life. The rich young ruler understood that people
die, and someday he would die.
“Good Master, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
Had he inherited his position and riches? Probably.
He is thinking in terms of keeping rules and requirements. He wants
to know what he has to do.
So Jesus answers him on his own terms by giving him a partial list
of commandments, and the rich, young ruler answers, “Oh, I’ve done
that all my life.”
If that’s the way one gets eternal life, then the doing has to be
perfect. If doing is the way one gets eternal life, then the doing
has to be 100% correct. So Jesus says, “If you would be perfect, go
sell your possessions and give to the poor; and you will have
treasure in Heaven; and come, follow me.”
Levi, the tax collector known as Matthew, did; Simon Peter did;
Zacchaeus restored everyone four-fold; James and John left their
father’s vocation. But the rich, young ruler held too firm a grip on
his wealth; he could not do that, so he turned and walked away.
Do you mind if I surmise and speculate? In Heaven someday, let’s ask
the Apostle Paul, “Were you that rich young ruler?”
What emotions did he walk away with? Sorrow at first that later
turned to anger, bitterness, resentment? Is that why he hated Jesus
so much? Is that why he set out to jail or execute believers?
Maybe Jesus knew when the rich young ruler walked away, “I’ll see
you later…on the road to Damascus.”