1. Lesson One of the Book of Daniel, Introduction to the Book of Daniel

The Book of Luke, The Rich Young Ruler Lesson 199

Luke 18:18-23,  And a certain ruler asked him, saying, Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? 19And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? none is good, save one, that is, God. 20Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother. 21And he said, All these have I kept from my youth up. 22Now when Jesus heard these things, he said unto him, Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me. 23And when he heard this, he was very sorrowful: for he was very rich.


This is the story of the rich young ruler. 


We are told by Luke that he was a ruler and that he was rich.


We are told only by Mark that he was young. 


These three characteristics of this man, youth, wealth, and power, are what our culture most values. 


Today, as in most times, youth has high value for it is a time of life where most are healthy, where most have vitality, energy and strength. 


This man was not only young but this man was wealthy. 


Wealth is always valued highly by this world for with it comes the ability to buy all the things we think of as great benefit to us and allows us to make progress in life unhindered by the lack of material goods.


As so often comes with wealth this man was also powerful for he was a ruler and as a ruler he was able to control others and able to keep others from controlling him.


These three things, youth, wealth, and power, so valued by the world, are so often that which will prevent a man from entering the kingdom of God.


For these three benefits are normally hindrances to eternal life.  


Most young men give little thought to any more than that which he has today. 


Young people normally suppose that they have plenty of time left to think about such serious matters as eternal life. 


The young see that death normally occur in others of much more advanced age. 


Death is distant and remote in their minds for most of their peers are young and healthy.


Therefore they concentrate on the present, the now and now. 


They are not like babies or those of advanced age, utterly helpless and dependent on the hand of others. 


Most young men take pride in self sufficiency and give little thought to the need for God.


The second hindrance to eternal life that this man had was wealth.


Wealth is that which competes with God for our attention.


Wealth is that which satisfies the body which many think is their most important possession to satisfy.  


God may be in the thoughts of the wealthy but God is not normally their first thought.


And power and position also hinder coming to Christ for it will always deceive, convincing us that we have everything under control. 


Power communicates to us a strength which tells us that we need no other strength. 


So those who think they have it all in youth, wealth, and power  have the greatest of barriers to that which is in fact the greatest asset of all.


And that is to know the Lord Jesus Christ who is eternal life personified.


The person of this rich young ruler is contrasted with that of the infant in the previous passage, the little child who has absolutely nothing to offer God.


In fact he does not even have the will or ability to approach God but he is given as our example as to how to enter the kingdom of God.


So this story continues Jesus’ instruction as to how to enter the kingdom. 


For some reason this rich young ruler was drawn to Christ. 


Mark tells us that he ran to Jesus and fell on his knees before him. 


He also was very sad as he left Christ realizing that his riches were more important to him than following Christ. 


The Gospel of Mark also tells us that Christ loved this young man and spoke words to him designed to draw him to Christ.  


He desired him to be his disciple and told him what he had to do to become a follower. 


There was no sweet talk given in hopes of gaining followers by flattery but only words of truth.


He came to Jesus saying:  Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?


Jesus’ answer questioned whether or not the man understood what it meant to call another “good”.


Jesus therefore asked the young man, Why callest thou me good? none is good, save one, that is, God.


The Jews never attached goodness to a rabbi, but only to God.


So we see here Jesus planting the seed of thought into the young man who had so named this teacher as “Good Master.”


By this He pressed the young ruler to think about what he had said.


Was Jesus truly good?  If this is so, and only if this is so, this young ruler must come to the conclusion that Jesus must also be God.


Jesus did not deny His deity but this question was a challenge to the young man to recognize his deity so that any actions he took would be based upon that understanding.


He came asking what should he do to inherit eternal life.


His question came from the framework of the law believing that works of righteousness would gain him entrance into the kingdom.


He claimed righteousness for from his youth he obeyed those things which Jesus Christ brought to his mind.  


He had not committed adultery, he had not killed, he had not stolen, nor had he bore false witness and from his youth he faithfully honored his father and his mother.


Jesus did not argue with him even though we know that this testimony was false for we know that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.  


According to Christ if a man looks on a woman with lust in his heart he commits adultery.


From God’s perspective it is in our hearts where we break all of the commandments.


That which results in action springs from the seed planted in the heart for Proverbs 4:23 tells us:


Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.


But by coming and asking what he should do to inherit eternal life we see that he found no assurance in the keeping of the law.  


He did not have peace in the law for you cannot have peace without assurance.


And one thing we know is that God only gives assurance in truth. 


There is always an emptiness in the heart where error resides and this man’s heart was filled with error and therefore the law gave him no assurance.


By Jesus telling him that there is none good but God, he told him that he was not good, even though from his youth he had kept these commandments.


The law does not produce goodness. 


The law only exposes and reveals men as sinners unworthy of God’s blessings and only worthy of His wrath. 


The law was to be a mirror in which a man could behold his true self as God saw him. 


It was not to be a mirror where makeup was applied to create a righteous man for that only results in the making of hypocrites.


So before this man can really act on the goodness of the Lord Jesus, he must first come to realize his own sin.


For the man who depends upon his own goodness has no need of the goodness of God.


Jesus knew the man was thinking that his righteousness was based upon the law for the rich young ruler asked how to inherit eternal life as though it was up to him to earn it.


He was thinking in terms of his works, and therefore he was thinking in terms of the law, not in terms of the grace of God where works only hinder access to grace.


He was trying to come to Jesus, as an adult with his hands full, not as a child with empty hands. 


He was like that proud Pharisee who depended upon his own goodness instead of the humble publican who knew he was without goodness.


But Jesus tried to draw the rich young ruler to himself by showing him what must take place in his life regarding his wealth. 


He made no mention of his youth nor his power but concentrated on that which was his greatest hindrance, his wealth.


Jesus quoted that portion of the law which governs man’s relationship to man, the horizontal relationships.


These are the commandments which others can see more easily with regard to a man’s obedience to them. 


The vertical commandments deal with man’s relationship with God.


It is possible to measure whether a man commits adultery, kills, steals, bears false witness or honors his father and mother but can a man judge whether or not a man loves God with all his soul, mind and strength?


Obedience to this commandment is not as open as those outward sins and Jesus knew that this young man’s wealth was the one thing which stood in the way of following and trusting Christ.


So this is what the Lord brought forth to consider. 


How did he use his wealth with regard to his relationship to others, namely the poor?


He claimed that he had not committed adultery, nor killed, nor stole, nor bore false witness and he fully honored his father and his mother from his youth up.


The young man asked Jesus what he still lacked, even after having kept these commandments which shows the law did not give him peace concerning the matter of eternal life.


Verse 22, Now when Jesus heard these things, he said unto him, Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me.


Now when Jesus said the man lacked one thing he told him to get rid of all his wealth by giving it to the poor. 


Would this then gain him entrance into the kingdom?


Would this act be enough to gain him eternal life? 


No, this act could not do it for what Jesus was telling him was that his wealth was in the way to his gaining the kingdom. 


He was telling him to cast off his wealth, which was that which hindered him from gaining eternal life.


He was young, he had power but Jesus knew that this rich young ruler had something that kept him from true riches and that was his earthly treasure.


It is not by giving to the poor that will gain the kingdom but it is the casting away of that which hinders one from the righteousness of Christ that keeps the kingdom doors shut.


This man lacked righteousness. 


He kept the law but keeping the law does not bring righteousness.


The law was given to prove all men to be sinners which means they lack the righteousness required for God’s blessings.


This man failed to be righteous, even though he thought of himself as a law-keeper.


Leviticus 18:5 instructed the man:  Ye shall therefore keep my statutes, and my judgments: which if a man do, he shall live in them: I am the LORD. 


This definitely was the instruction from God but no one, except the Lord Jesus Christ was able to follow it.


So the problem in this man’s life was not that he was deficient in giving to the poor but he was deficient in righteousness.


There is only one solution to a man’s lack of righteousness and that solution is found in the righteousness of Christ.


Jesus had come to die in man’s place, bearing the penalty of his sins and to offer His righteousness in place of man’s sin.


The problem of the rich young ruler would only be solved in Christ.


Getting rid of that which hindered him from following Christ was required for following Christ requires a new set of values.


Jesus Christ told this to his disciples in Luke 12:33,34 when he said:


3Sell that ye have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth. 34For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.


Jesus spoke of having treasures in heaven. 


He knew that desire for treasures on earth compete with having treasures in heaven. 


This man had a wrong set of values.


If he had truly valued Jesus for who He was, he should have gladly given up all that he owned so as to get rid of any hindrance in order to obey and follow Jesus Christ.


He would have the values of the merchant man whom Jesus spoke of in:  Matthew 13:45-46, Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: 46Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.


Jesus spoke of “treasure in heaven” because it is that which is the only thing of infinite value.


Money was this man’s idol for he loved it more than God, and therefore he could never love the Lord God with all of his heart, mind, soul, and strength.


He saw God as a means to eternal life and not an end, and money was his goal, his ultimate good.


He saw eternal life is a fringe benefit, and not the ultimate goal.


The rich man wanted to live forever, but he did not really want God.


Jesus had to instruct him that “eternal life” is but a part of being one with God by faith in Jesus Christ, His Son, and that such “life” is different not only in its length, but in its quality.


This is why Jesus differentiated between “having treasure in heaven” and “following Him.”


Money, and a long life to enjoy it, was the goal of the rich young man.


So therefore the Lord Jesus Christ tells him to first part with his money so that he may truly follow Him, and he will be sure to enter into life eternal for his wealth was what stood in the way and hindered him from following Christ. 


Matthew 5:29,  And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. 30And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.