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18 “AND A CERTAIN RULER QUESTIONED HIM, SAYING, ‘GOOD TEACHER, WHAT SHALL I DO TO INHERIT ETERNAL LIFE?’ 19 AND JESUS SAID TO HIM, ‘WHY DO YOU CALL ME GOOD? NO ONE IS GOOD EXCEPT GOD ALONE. 20 YOU KNOW THE COMMANDMENTS, DO NOT COMMIT ADULTRY, DO NOT MURDER, DO NOT STEAL, DO NOT BEAR FALSE WITNESS, HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER.’ 21 AND HE SAID, ‘ALL THESE THINGS I HAVE KEPT FROM MY YOUTH.’ 22 AND WHEN JESUS HEARD THIS HE SAID TO HIM, ‘ONE THING YOU STILL LACK; SELL ALL THAT YOU POSSESS, AND DISTRIBUTE IT TO THE POOR, AND YOU SHALL HAVE TREASURE IN HEAVEN, AND COME, FOLLOW ME.’ 23 BUT WHEN HE HAD HEARD THESE THINGS, HE BECAME VERY SAD, FOR HE WAS EXTREMELY RICH.”

This section of the eighteenth chapter of Luke records the account of a young man who approached Jesus with a very important question.

The problem was, the man had no idea how really important the question was. First, you see that he addresses Jesus as “teacher” (or rabbi, which means the same thing). Now there is nothing wrong with calling Jesus “teacher” as long as you don’t think that is all He is. It was late in Jesus’ ministry. He had taught, healed and done miracles all over Galilee and in Jerusalem. By now, anyone vaguely interested in Him should have been calling Him “Master”, and “Lord” and “Messiah”. But this man comes to flatter Him, hoping to be flattered with a positive response.

That is why Jesus challenges him with His question of verse 19. Of course Jesus is good,...He is God. but since He can read the man’s heart, and He knows the man does not truly believe in Him as the Messiah, He asks the man why he bothers to call him (Jesus) ‘good’.

But to me there is a more interesting point of focus in this passage. The man is rich. The man is a ruler (which probably means he is one of the Pharisees; and the Pharisees were always rich). He boasts in verse 21 that he has always kept the law of Moses and is without blame.

If you read Paul’s letters, you will see that even though Paul was also a Pharisee before coming to Christ, he later counted all of his worldly riches and prestige as dung, and was glad to lose them in order to gain Christ.

Here is the line I want you to dwell on. It’s in verse 22. “So when Jesus heard these things, He said to Him, ‘you still lack one thing’. Isn’t that interesting? The man had everything that could be desired by a first century Israelite. He was of the ruling class; he had money; he obviously had a clear conscience (whether he deserved one or not). He had it all. He thought.

But Jesus could see that he lacked the most important thing; compassion. If we want to follow Jesus, we must want to be like Him.

He has no need of our money or our self righteousness, or our clout. To follow Jesus is to seek to become like Jesus. Part of that process is in looking to the needs of others, whatever the cost to us.

That was the attitude of Christ, and if we are not letting Him develop that in us, then we are simply not His. (Read Philippians 2:1-13)


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