Harmony of the Gospels

Rich Young Ruler
(Exodus 20:1-17) Matthew 19:16-30, Mark 10:17-31, Luke 18:18-30

16 And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?
17 And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.

Notice how this young man approaches the Lord Jesus. 

He addresses Him as Good Master in an attempt to flatter Him.

Luke identifies him as a ruler, so he was no doubt wealthy and well educated, a member of the Sanhedrin or a synagogue ruler.
He is willing to admit that Jesus is good, and probably the enemies of Jesus would not have gone that far.

He wanted to know what to do to earn eternal life and that is the question he asked our Lord.

His question implies that he wanted to perform some work that might gain him eternal life (salvation through works).

Jesus replied to the young mans’ question by asking a question: “Why callest thou me good?”

When He said, “there is none good but one, that is, God,” He is saying in effect, “If you see that I am good, it is because I am God.” 

He is directing his thinking so that he might accept Him as the Christ, the Son of God. 

Jesus added, “if thou wilt enter into life,” and that implies that the young man was still on the outside of such a life; he was lost.

The idea is this, if you want to gain eternal life, you must first of all enter it!

And how do you do that; it’s very simple, by receiving Jesus as your Savior.

But it is interesting to note that Jesus said, “Keep the commandments,” instead of “believe in Me.”

He was making a point about pride and self-righteousness. 

Jesus did not believe that the mere outward act of keeping the commandments brought anyone salvation.

He had already told Nicodemus earlier that he must be born again.

Why, then, did He tell this young man to keep the commandments?

The rest of the story reveals the answer.

Jesus will go to great lengths now to show him that he has not kept the commandments and, therefore, is in need of God’s grace.

18 He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness,
19 Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
20 The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?

The young man asked Jesus to tell him which  commandments he must keep, and He listed only those commandments that dealt with one’s relationship with a neighbor or parents (see Deut. 5:16–20). 

The young man could say that he had kept these commandments, and yet he recognized there was something missing his life. 

Our Lord did not give him the first five commandments which deal with a man’s relationship with God, because He was leading this young man along in his thinking. 

But, now He does direct his thinking to his relationship with God.

21 Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.

When Jesus said, “If thou wilt be perfect,” He meant “If you want to be complete.” 

Following Jesus would have led him to see that he was not keeping the commandments dealing with man’s relationship with God. 

The Lord Jesus was on His way to the Cross. 

If this man followed Jesus, it would lead him to the foot of the cross. 

Something, however was keeping him from going after the Lord. 

His riches were his stumbling block

For you and me it might be something entirely different. 

The vital message Jesus gave the man was not “Go, sell what you have,” but “Come, follow Me”

22 But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.

It was his money that was keeping him from coming to The Lord Jesus Christ. 

In our day there are many things keeping folks away from the Lord Jesus. 

Riches are only one thing: there are multitudes of other things. 

Actually, church membership is keeping many people from Christ because it puts them into a little cellophane bag that prevents them from facing their sins. 

They feel secure because they have been through the ceremonies or have made their confession, and yet they may be as unconverted as any pagan in the darkest spot on the topside of the earth. 

Jesus’ emphasis was always on the attitude of the heart, not on deeds.

Jesus showed the young man that he had failed, even in the areas in which he thought he had done well.

His wealth was not his problem; his divided heart was.

Jesus said, “You cannot serve two masters; God and money,” but that’s what this young man was trying to do.

23 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven.

The further comment, “That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven,” shocked the disciples (note their reaction in verse 25, where they ask, “Who then can be saved?”).

They accepted the common notion of the day that the rich were blessed of God and therefore certainly saved.

To correct that misunderstanding, Jesus explained the human difficulty for the rich to be converted.

The word “hardly” implies that for the rich, salvation is extremely difficult, although not hopeless.

Jesus was not condemning wealthy people.

For example, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David, Solomon, and Joseph of Arimathea were wealthy.

But the Jews often interpreted wealth as a sign of God’s blessing in the sense of a sure ticket to heaven.

Instead, Jesus saw the dangers inherent in wealth and taught that only a few, with God’s help, could handle wealth properly.

Those who are rich in material possessions could be tempted to depend on earthly wealth rather than on God.

It is almost impossible to find an extremely wealthy person who is not trusting in his riches.

24 And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.

The camel was the largest animal commonly seen, and the eye of a needle was the smallest opening.

Jesus used a well-known figure of speech about a camel going through the eye of a needle to emphasize the difficulty rich people have in turning from their riches to find salvation.

Let me ask you a very plain question: Is it possible for a real camel to go through the eye of a needle? 

I think you know the answer—he won’t make it! 

It is impossible. 

But would it be possible for God to put a camel through a needles eye? 

Well, God is not in that business, but He could do it. 

And only God can regenerate a man. 

That is the point our Lord is making here. 

It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into the Kingdom of God. 

Many people today think they are going to be saved by who they are or by what they have. 

You are truly saved when you find out you are a sinner, a beggar in God’s sight, with nothing to offer Him for your salvation. 

As long as a person feels he can do something or pay God for salvation, he can no more be saved than a camel can be put through the eye of a needle.

25 When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved?

The disciples were astonished because they believed that riches indicated the blessing of God and as a result they were an assurance of heavenly reward.

Riches themselves are neither good nor bad.

But when they take the place of God by being the object of trust, that trust indicates money has become an idol.

Listen to Jesus’ answer—

26 But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.

This is Jesus' explanation. 

As far as any person is concerned—regardless of who you are—you are a candidate for salvation if you recognize you have nothing to offer God but come to Him like a beggar with empty hands. 

When you come to Him like that, He can save you. 

With God all things are possible.

This passage teaches the seriousness of true discipleship, but it in no way teaches the average man that he must sell his possessions in order to be a Christian.

The salvation of a rich sinner is just as miraculous as the salvation of a poor sinner.

Both are only possible with God!

27 Then answered Peter and said unto him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore?

It is easy for us to think that Simon Peter is revealing a very selfish streak here, but does the Lord scold him?

Listen to Jesus’ answer—

28 And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

“In the regeneration” refers to a time that is still in the future when “the new heavens and the new earth.” will come. 

Jesus is talking about the future millennial Kingdom where the apostles will judge Israel (literally).

Did you notice that in His answer our Lord did not scold Him for His selfish attitude? 

Instead, He told him what a great reward would be his.

The apostles will rule over Israel, but according to Paul in 1 Corinthians 6:2 all His followers would have a part in judging.

That verse says, “Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters?”

Have you ever wondered what you will be doing in heaven?

We know one thing—we will have a part in ruling the world.

Without a doubt, all who have responded to His call to follow Him will receive not only eternal life but also hundredfold rewards.

29 And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.
30 But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first.

There is to be a reward for the saved ones who have sacrificed for Jesus’ sake. 

Many unknown saints, whom the world has heard nothing about, will be given first place in His presence someday. 

In that day I believe that many outstanding Christian leaders who receive wide acclaim in this life will be ignored while many unknown saints of God will be rewarded. 

Doesn’t that present a wonderful, glorious picture for us!

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http://harmonyofthegospels.yolasite.com (Life of Christ)

http://teachingsermonsforpastorsandlaymen.yolasite.com (sermons)

http://theepistlesofpaul.yolasite.com (Titus and Jude)

http://paulsepistletotheromans.yolasite.com (Romans)

http://theperiodofthejudges.yolasite.com (Judges)

Please review them and use them as the Lord leads you.

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