The Rich Young Ruler

According to a recent poll] 88% of Catholics and a majority of Presbyterian and Methodist evangelizers [those who actively try to share their “faith"] believe that “if people are generally good, or do enough good things for others during their lives, they will earn … More

Good Works

Jesus encountered a rich, young ruler. Possibly the ruler of a synagogue. He asked Jesus what “good thing” he must do to get eternal life (v. 16)? It implies that he wanted to perform some work that might gain him salvation. Jesus replied, “there is only one who is good,” namely, God, and His Word tells us the good He would have us do in His commandments (v. 17).

Steeped in the multiplicity of Pharisaic regulations, the young man asked, “Which ones?” Jesus replied by repeating several of the commandments (vv. 18-19). The young man stated that He had kept all of these things, but he still sensed a lack so he asked, “What do I still lack (v. 20)?” Jesus put his finger on the problem when he told him to go, sell all his possessions and give to the poor, and then he would have treasure in heaven (v. 21). This he would not do and so he went away sorrowful (v. 22). He loved his money more than God. Nothing more was written about this young man; probably he never left all and followed Jesus.

The incident prompted a brief message from Jesus to His disciples (v. 23). He told how the danger for the rich lies in their trust in material resources rather than in God. He explains how it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a sewing needle than for a rich man who trusts in his riches to get him to heaven (v. 24). Peter was quick to see the contrast between the wealthy ruler and the poor disciples. When the disciples heard this they were surprised and asked, “how can anyone ever be saved” (v. 25). Jesus looked them straight in the eye and said, “There are some things that people can not do, but God can do anything” (v. 26). Peter then asked what they would receive for this (v. 27). Peter displayed a wrong motive for service in his question so Jesus added a warning that some who were first in their own eyes would be last (vv. 28-30).


Jesus hit this man where it hurt. If He were to address me where it hurts, what would His topic be?  What have I given up to follow Jesus?

Matthew 19:16-30 (English Standard Version)

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