WHMBC VBS 2007 – Treasure #5 – Spoils
The young man that we are about to be introduced to may have the distinction of being the only man recorded in the gospels who came to Jesus and went away in worse condition than when he came. He came to the right person, asked the right question and received the right answer, but made the wrong decision.
Verse 18 - Here we are introduced to the story of what has come to be known as “the rich young ruler.” All the gospel accounts must be considered to get the complete picture. Mark says he is rich. Matthew says that he is young (Gr. Neaniskos – less than 40 yrs. of age), and Luke says he is a ruler.
Look at the question he asks in Verse 19! “Good teacher” - Recognition of Jesus deity.
There is no mention of any rabbi in Jewish history being called good. The Jews insisted in calling only God good. In Anglo-Saxon, which is where the English language comes from, God is the same word for good. When Jesus asked, "Why do you call me good?" it is not a denial of his deity but a call to the man to reflect on what he just said. "Do you understand what you said when you called me good teacher? No one is good but God alone."
Is this mere flattery, or does he really believe that Jesus is God?
Jesus wanted this young man to face the hard facts that there are only two possibilities, “If you want to call me good, you must be willing to call me God. If you won’t call me God, then you can’t call me good!”
Jesus now turns to him and in verse 20
When Jesus reminded this young man of God’s commandments, He in effect responded by saying, “Been there. Done that, got the t-shirt!” It is amazing when you hear people say – I’ve kept the commandments – I’ve never killed anyone!!!
This young man thought was a good person. There are a lot of people in this world who are counting on their goodness to get them a place in heaven.
I want you to notice with four things that we learn from the rich young ruler.
I. How good is good?
There are still individuals today who think that they are keeping the Ten Commandments. Perhaps you are on of those persons.
If that is what you think, then I want you to do a little experiment with me. I am going to list the Ten Commandments for you and I want you to count off the ones you have never broken. Then at the end I want you to add up the ones you have never broken and let’s see how good you have been.
(1) Thou shalt have no other gods before me. If you have always put God 1st in your life, nothing has ever taken priority over Him… Count that as one you’ve never broken.
(2) Thou shalt not make unto thee any a graven image. Now here is one that we all feel pretty good about. If you’ve never fashioned an idol and bowed down and worshiped it you can count that as one you’ve never broken – Posters?
(3) Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain. If you have never used the name of God or the name of Jesus as a cuss word and in all your life, you have only used God’s name with the highest respect, then count this one.
(4) Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy. When is the Sabbath? – Saturday – do you keep that holy? Let’s take it one step further, if you have always used Saturday night or Sunday in a way that always honours God, you’ve never skipped church for your own pleasure or your own convenience, when you’re here you’ve never wished your were somewhere else.. then count this one. Amen or Oh me!
(5) Honour thy father and mother. If from the time you were a little child you never talked back to your parents, you always obeyed them and now that they are older you hold them with respect, then you can count that as one you’ve not broken.
(6) Thou shalt not kill. I can see some of you thinking praise God that one’s in there – I’ve kept that one. However Jesus said in Matthew 5:21-22 If you are angry with someone or if you hate someone then that’s the same as murder. Perhaps you should not mark that one after all!
(7) Thou shalt not commit adultery. Phew – I’m ok – this is talking about married people having affairs. Nope – Jesus said (Mat 5:28) But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.
(8) Thou shalt not steal. If you have never stolen anything, not even a quarter out of your mother’s purse, not an pen from school, nor an answer off of someone’s paper, then you can count this as one you have not broken.
(9)Thou shalt not bear false witness. If you’ve never told a lie to get yourself out of a sticky situation, if you’ve never exaggerated a story, you can count this one as one you’ve never broken.
(10) Thou shalt not covet. If you’ve never been guilty of wishing that you had something or somebody that belonged to someone else you count that one as one never broken.
All right here is the test. How many could say with the rich young ruler, “I’ve kept all the commandments since I was a little child?” Raise your hand. 9? 8? 7? Anybody kept 6 perfectly? We’ve got a bunch of sorry people here! Me included…
II. We are not as good as we think we are.
In Romans 3:20 Paul tells us, Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin. God didn’t give these commands to make us better but so we would see our sin clearly. So we would understand our need for a Saviour.
But this young man was saying, "I don’t need to be changed.. He had not done as well as he thought in fact he had not made it past the very first commandment, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me!” (Ex. 20:3). He was not willing to part with his money
That is why in verse eighteen he had said, “… what shall I do to inherit eternal life?" He knew deep down that there was still something lacking in his life. Even though he thought he had kept the law, he still knew there was something missing in order for him to have eternal life.
This is true of every individual no matter how impressive they may be on the outside. There is always something no quite right without the Lord. Outside they may look like they have it all together, but on the inside they are insecure and afraid.
Jesus made a severe requirement of him. Verse 22 Now, this wasn’t what the young ruler expected - sell everything? Jesus knew the problem wasn’t really money, the problem was priority… this man’s money was his God. Still, Jesus made the generous offer to him. "Correct that situation and have real treasure - eternal life."
III. How do we get our hands on the treasure?
Look at this rich young ruler’s response in verse 23 Matthew and Mark tell us he not only was sorrowful (grieved – intensely sad) but that… "he went away sorrowful.." This man came with great humility and asked the right question, but he did not like the answer and he rejected Jesus’ proposal! He was not willing to part with any part of the wealthy lifestyle, let alone all of it.
He chose possessions over God. I can see this young man in my mind as he is walking away from Jesus, his shoulders are drooped, his head is hanging in dejection and he is obviously filled with despair. But on his right hand are still his rings. You see, he’s still got his wealth, he’s still got his pride.. and he’s still got his emptiness.
So can I ask you, “What is it that keeps you from completely giving yourself to Jesus? - Honouring Jesus as Saviour and Lord? - Submitting completely to Him? Possessions? Money? Popularity?” Jesus is willing to change you but He won’t transform you against your will. He doesn’t chase after this man even though Mark tells us that Jesus loved him. And unless you submit to Christ and are willing to allow Him to change you, you will find yourself like this young man who refused to be changed, deliberately choosing to walk away from eternal life.
The Lord’s reaction is found in verse 24
Don’t be misled here, it is not possessing riches that keeps people out of heaven it being possessed by riches. By his actions he proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that his wealth was his god. The rich young ruler stands as a powerful warning to people today who want a Christian faith that does not change their v lifestyle.
We still have people today who are happy to just “play church,” they really do not want a faith that demands that they act differently or live differently. When life gets difficult they react in the same way as their unbelieving neighbours. The decisions they make in their lives do not reflect the beliefs that they say they have.
So what are we to do? We are warned to be careful that we do not become consumed with our things.
The Lord said in Verse 22 that we can have treasure in Heaven – as treasure hunters these are our Spoils (rewards). We’ve sailed the seas and finally found our treasure – it’s up to you to dig it up..
The treasure will stay buried unless someone puts the effort in to dig – the same here. Jesus offers you treasure in heaven – but you have to dig – you have to accept His gift of eternal life.
We have seen by the commandments that we are not good enough for heaven:
If we stood before God on Judgment day based on 10 Commandments – we’d be guilty.
Christ paid our fine – Cross…
The treasure is there waiting for you – are you willing to dig????