Message: The rich young ruler came and asked Jesus “What good must I do to have eternal life?” Jesus answered this in two pieces by first answering his question with another question. “Why do you ask me about what is good?” To me, this response seemed like a kind way of letting him know that the question he asked was misguided. There was actually no good he could do to earn eternal life, and the second part of his response pointed him to the ten commandments. He told him that if he wanted to enter into life he needed to keep them. The young man’s response to this directive was odd. He asked Jesus “which ones?” Jesus played along though and began listing them all one by one until about the 6th one the young man responds again by saying “I have kept all of those.” I can’t help but wonder if this was an interruption or whether Jesus actually paused after the first 6 but the young man said “What do I still lack?” At this point he is looking pretty arrogant but Jesus makes one last interesting shift and it almost appears he might be making fun of him when he says “If you want to be perfect, go sell your belongings and give them to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven. But I can’t help but notice that he wasn’t telling him that this is what would earn his place in Heaven. Just that he would store treasure in Heaven. But then he says one last thing “THEN COME FOLLOW ME.” The most important part of it all. What I really got out of this interaction is that the young ruler was missing the point because he was asking the wrong questions to begin with. He asked out of an arrogant assumption that Heaven could be earned by good works. Jesus was very clearly letting him know that not only is “good” unattainable by literally everyone except himself, but that was never what he was commanding. Even when he told him to live by the ten commandments and was pointing to obedience rather than good works, there was still one last important piece. He needed to give up all of his plans and all of his wealth and just follow him. Apparently Jesus accurately identified the problem and the young man walked away sad instead.
Command: I need to consider that in my pursuit of Jesus, I may be asking the wrong questions. I need to pull back a little bit and allow Jesus to identify the real questions that I’m not asking, rather than the ones I may be trying to use in an effort to justify my lack of obedience.
Promise: If I follow Jesus and walk in obedience, I will know my place in Heaven. Not from good works, but from following him closely and walking in obedience.
Warning: If my motives are off, I might sound equally as shallow in my pursuit to justify myself. How sad to miss the point!
Application: I saw elements of myself in the young man. I want to believe I am doing well, and the desire to be approved of makes it tempting to push forward the things I believe I am doing right. Maybe it’s an attempt to somehow convince myself (and God and others) that I am what I want them to believe I am. Maybe it’s a subconscious trick of the mind where I am hoping to avoid the deeper, harder things that lurk in my heart. The main point of all of this is that I need to walk this stuff out in the day to day walk of following him. Going where he leads me and obediently working out the gritty things. As long as I am busy trying to convince myself and others that I am better than I actually am, I will be blinded to the things that God wants to show me and walk me through. Lord Jesus, help me to lay aside the desire to please anyone but you. Help me to look deeply and honestly at what you are revealing in my heart so I can walk it out with you.