Not everyone is called to sell everything he has, give the money to the poor and then follow Jesus, like this young ruler was in Luke Chapter 18. This was a specific command to a certain individual at a designated time in history, and you can hardly make a doctrine out of it. However, we can learn a valuable lesson from this story. Jesus was not in need of this young ruler’s money. Why would He be? His Heavenly Father owned the cattle on a thousand hills and all He had to do was ask, and God would have provided what He and his disciples needed (Psalm 50:10). Jesus challenged him to sell everything he had because He knew that riches had become this man’s idol. He wanted to bring this ruler’s life back into godly order, where he would be willing to forgo a lesser treasure - his earthly wealth – in order to receive a much greater, heavenly one. The man was not ready for such an exchange though, and went away sad. In the Greek that word is defined as ‘sorrowful, greatly distressed.’ We don’t know if this ruler took up the challenge of Jesus at a later date. The Bible narrative doesn’t say. What we do know, however, is that on that day, at that particular hour, he said ‘No’ to Jesus and lost out on a precious opportunity.
It’s interesting to note that when Mark wrote about the same narrative he added some information that reveals Jesus’ heart for the man. In Mark 10:21, Mark reports ‘Jesus looked at him and loved him.’ To see the sadness in the man as he walked away must have really touched the heart of Jesus. Jesus knew that no earthly treasure was worth forfeiting the treasures of heaven, but this man didn’t. I wonder how differently that man’s life would have looked, had he taken up Jesus’ challenge.
Peter was quick to remind Jesus that he and the other disciples had left all to follow Him. He was basically saying to Jesus, ‘What about us Lord?’ Jesus didn’t rebuke him but simply answered his question. In Luke 18:28-29 Jesus answers, ‘Truly I tell you,’ Jesus said to them, ‘no one who has left home or wife or brothers or sisters or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God will fail to receive many times as much in this age, and in the age to come eternal life.’
The same verses in Mark 10 adds the words ‘and persecution’ but we often quickly read over those words. Well at least I do! Jesus never promised that following Him would be without cost, but He did promise that in the end the cost would seem insignificant to what we would gain. Put that amazing truth in your back pocket and keep it close to you today.
Prayer: Father God, would You show us where we settle for lesser things and as a result, forget what is greater. We want nothing to stand in the way of us wholeheartedly following You. Amen.
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