What the text says – GotQuestions.Org:
To understand Jesus’ response to the rich young ruler’s question—“What must I do to be saved?”—we must consider three things: the background of the rich young ruler, the purpose of his question, and the essence of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The young man had asked Jesus, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?” Jesus responded, “If you want to enter life, keep the commandments”. At first glance, it appears that Jesus is saying that the young man and, by extension, all people must obey the commandments in order to be saved. But is that really what He was saying? Since the essence of the salvation message is that we are saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8–9), why would Jesus offer the rich young ruler an “alternative plan”?
The story of the rich young ruler is found in all three of the Synoptic Gospels, Matthew 19:16–23, Mark 10:17–22, and Luke 18:18–23. The man is described as a “ruler,” which means he was a prince or magistrate of some sort. Since no Roman ruler would address Jesus as “teacher” or “master,” it is assumed that this man was a Jewish ruler in the local synagogue. This man also had “great wealth” (Matthew 19:22), and Jesus later used His conversation with this man to teach the detrimental effect money can have on one’s desire for eternal life when Jesus says it is so hard for a rich person to go to heaven – like getting the camel through the eye of a needle. The lesson Jesus draws from this incident primarily concerns money, not salvation by works.
The first thing Jesus says to the man’s greeting, “Good teacher,” is to remind him that no one is good except God (Matthew 19:17). Jesus was not denying His own divinity. Rather, Jesus was immediately getting the man to think about what “good” really means—since only God is good, then what we normally call human goodness might be something else entirely This truth comes into play later in the conversation. When the man asked Jesus to specify which commandments he should keep, Jesus cites several of the commandments, including “love your neighbor as yourself”. The man replies, “All these I have kept. . . . What do I still lack?” (verse 20), and that is a key statement. The young man was obviously religious and sincere in his pursuit of righteousness. His problem was that he considered himself to be faultless concerning the Law. And this is the point that Jesus challenges.
Jesus tells the man, “If you want to be perfect” (because perfection is required to enter the Kingdom of God) Jesus says, “go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me” . The young man decided that Jesus was asking too much. “He went away sad, because he had great wealth”. Rather than obey Jesus’ instructions, he turned his back on the Lord and walked away. The man’s choice undoubtedly saddened Jesus as well, because Jesus loved him (Mark 10:21).
In telling the young man to keep the commandments, Jesus was not saying that he could be saved by obeying the commandments; rather, Jesus was emphasizing the Law as God’s perfect standard. If you can keep the Law perfectly, then you can escape sin’s penalty—but that’s a big if. When the man responded that he met the Law’s standard, Jesus simply touched on one issue that proved the man did not measure up to God’s holiness. The man was not willing to follow the Lord, if that meant he must give up his wealth. Thus, the man was breaking the two greatest commands; he did not love the Lord with all his heart, and he did not love his neighbor as himself. He loved himself (and his money) more. Far from keeping “all” the commandments, as he had claimed, the man was a sinner like everyone else. The Law proved it.
If the man had loved God and other people more than he did his property, he would have been willing to give up his wealth to the service of God and man. But that was not the case. He had made an idol of his wealth, and he loved it more than God. With surgical precision, Jesus exposes the greed in the man’s heart—greed the man did not even suspect he had. Jesus’ statement that only God is good (Matthew 19:18) is proved in the young man’s response to Jesus’ command.
In His conversation with the rich young ruler, Christ did not teach that we are saved by the works of the Law. He sets the bar with the commandments and anyone who will not acknowledge that he or she falls short is falling short through their own pride.
The Bible’s message is that salvation is by grace through faith (Romans 3:20, 28; 4:6; Galatians 2:16; Ephesians 2:9; 2 Timothy 1:9). Rather, Jesus used the man’s love of money to show how the man fell short of God’s holy standard—as do we all. The rich young ruler needed the Savior, and so do we.
So even though this Scripture is about the love of money and does not teach we are saved by works, it is still a lesson we can draw from the text.
What does the Scripture say? What does the Scripture say to me? What does the Scripture have to teach us in our society today?
What must I do to inherit eternal life? What must I do?
That question is one of the most persistent fallacies in the world of religion… It is the question every religion asks. Different religions have come up with different answers, but every religion that creates a list of “things” are really all the same – a works based righteousness. The idea that being made right with God – being ACCEPTED by God is something we can do it the basis of every religion but one. It is the question from which Jesus came to free us.
The spiritual life is not a life of bookkeeping. Too many people see it as a balance sheet with credits and debits. In Mark 8:35 Jesus says “whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it”. That is the prescription here. It is always the prescription – It is really the prescription for us all. Lose your life for Jesus’ sake.
NIBC: Jesus was not laying down the idea of poverty for everyone. He is the Great Physician and has a different prescription for each patient. He loved this young man, and saw him as an individual with a specialized need, prescribing the action from the thing that was holding him back. Two weeks ago we studied Jesus saying “If your eye or if your hand causes you to sin, pluck it out or cut it off.” Today, we hear Jesus basically telling the “rich young ruler” “If your wealth causes you to sin, cut it off… unload it… give it away… For better to enter the kingdom with no financial resources that to be rich on earth and go to hell for eternity.”
We inherit eternal life by being lifted up out of ourselves by a devotion to God so great that it will break all chains that hold us back – removing whatever it is that stands in the way of our worship of Jesus.
We mistake an accumulation of things for success.
P 34 Pilgrim’s Progress
What the text says to me
Jon Voight – It is hard – It is supposed to be hard…
You are known
Is this not the best news in the world?
Voight goes on to say that he know has the fear of the Lord. He said for him it is not fear of repercussions – or punishment for the things he still does wrong. He said it was the fear of letting God down. He wanted to live up to how God sees Him. Once we are saved through Jesus, the Bible says there is no condemnation for us. But we should want to live the rest of our days showing our thanks to Him for what He so freely gave us.