Summary: Study of two men who had the opportunity to change but only one had the courage to do so.
CHOOSE TO CHANGE
Our world has changed dramatically in the past 100 years, and futurists predict that even greater changes are coming. Consider these facts: We now watch as routine as space shuttles propel people into space and land routinely, yet it was under 100 years ago that the first airplane flew at Kitty Hawk. The first mass produced Model T Ford came off the assembly only 80 plus years ago, yet we now have the first hybrid cars combining gas and electricity, according to experts it won’t be long until we can purchase automobiles capable of getting 75-100 miles per gallon, that respond to voice commands, and that automatically avoid collisions. Penicillin was discovered only 60 some years ago yet we’ve successfully implanted an artificial heart, and have made tremendous strides in cancer research. Our world is constantly changing and what applies to our culture also applies to us as individuals. We move, we think differently, we age. Many of us are like the man who accepted the invitation to attend his 25th high school reunion by writing.. “I hope you’ll recognize me.. I’ve got the “5 B’s”.. baldness, bifocals, bridgework, bulges and bunions.” But there is one change that is more important than all others. And that is the change that Jesus Christ can bring into your life. He desires and has the ability to transform all of our lives. The only question is, how will you respond to the changes that He requests?
So whether you are deeply committed to Christ or whether you are thinking about completely submitting your life to Him, let’s reason together from God’s Word and see how He can make "something beautiful " of our lives. In order to do that I want us to look at two men who met Jesus. Both of them had the opportunity to change, but only one of them had the courage to choose to let it happen. Let’s see which one would change, as we talk about the Rich Young Ruler and Zacchaeus.
I. THE RICH YOUNG RULER: 18:18-25
Jesus meets these two men on His last trip to Jerusalem. The first is a man who is an anxious seeker and is described in Matthew, Mark and Luke as a rich, young, ruler. Vs:18 of our text describes him as "a religious leader," Matt. 19:20 refers to him as a "young man" And Luke refers to him as a ruler, probably in a local synagogue. But all three, Matt., Mk. & Lk. make it very clear, that he is rich. So this rich, young, ruler comes to Jesus with an inquiry. Mark tells us he comes and falls on his knees before Jesus. And he asks the most important of all questions. "What should I do to get eternal life?" To the casual observer that question coming from this man must of been a surprise. Because this guy apparently had it all together. You see to the Jewish mind, possession of riches was a sign of God’s favor. And not only was he rich but he was young & influential. Much like today the people then thought "having it made" was measured by your appearance, your possessions and how successful you were. So why would this young man come to an itinerant, poverty stricken preacher with this important inquiry? It’s because there was something missing in his life. His question denotes an emptiness that had not yet been fulfilled.
You know, that’s true of every individual no matter how impressive they may be on the outside. There’s something not quite right without the Lord. Outside they may look impressive but on the inside they’re insecure and afraid. And maybe you look good on the outside and you look very impressive but there are areas in your life that you know deep down need to be changed! Well, no matter how secret, Jesus has a way of penetrating and seeing through those false fronts. Which is exactly what He did with this rich young man. Jesus saw right past all this ruler’s rhetoric. Lewis Foster wrote: "Evidently, (Jesus) found that this man was using terms and treating subjects too lightly, not weighing all that was involved." So, Jesus stopped him right in his tracks when he asks, "Good teacher, what should I do to get eternal life?" Jesus counters with a question of his own: "Why do you call me good?.. Only God is truly good." (Perfect) Jesus was asking this man to dig deep into his heart. Jesus was saying: "If you are calling me good in an absolute sense then you’re calling me God. Are you ready to take that to it’s logical conclusion and follow Me as God?" And as part of the follow-up for this man Jesus addresses a second issue by turning him to the 10 commandments and saying, "..you know the commandments.." and lists four of them saying in effect.. “How are you doing keeping God’s Top Ten?”