Summary: The rich young ruler asked the right question but was unable to accept the right answer.
RIGHT QUESTION! WRONG ANSWER!
17 Now as He was going out on the road, one came running, knelt before Him, and asked Him, "Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?" 18 So Jesus said to him, "Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. 19 You know the commandments: ’Do not commit adultery,’ ’Do not murder,’ ’Do not steal,’ ’Do not bear false witness,’ ’Do not defraud,’ ’Honor your father and your mother.’ " 20 And he answered and said to Him, "Teacher, all these things I have kept from my youth." 21 Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, "One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me." 22 But he was sad at this word, and went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. (Mark 10:17-22 (NKJV)
The synoptic accounts are found in Matthew 19:16-22 and Luke 18:18-30. We learn from Luke 18:18 that the rich young man was a ruler. All we know for certain is what the Bible tells us about him, but some have speculated that he may have been appointed to a prominent position by Roman authorities because of his great wealth and excellent character.
For many businesses, the end of the year is the beginning of inventory. It is also a good time for us to take inventory of our spiritual life and the degree of our commitment to follow Christ. This rich young ruler took inventory of his life and found that he was lacking something. As we take a look at him we will see that he asked the right question but he was unable to accept the right answer.
I. THERE WAS MUCH TO COMMEND THIS YOUNG MAN:
1. He was perceptive: He knew who had the answer so he went to Jesus with his inquiry.
2. He was eager to meet Jesus: “he came running” (Mark 10:17)
3. He was humble: “knelt before Him” (Mark 10:17)
4. He was reverent: he referred to Jesus as “Good Teacher” to which Jesus responded: “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God.” Notice: the young man did not retract his salutation. He recognized Jesus as the Son of God.
5. He possessed outstanding moral character: When Jesus said to him: “But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments”, he answered: “All these things I have kept from my youth”. Notice that Jesus did not dispute his statement.
II. HE REALIZED THAT HE WAS LACKING SOMETHING IN HIS LIFE:
The synoptic accounts tell us that he knew something very important was missing in his life. He knew that his good moral character alone could not fill the void he felt is his life This agonizing need is what brought him to Jesus. He knew that religion, education and wealth were not satisfying his deep spiritual hunger. After asserting that he had kept all the commandments from his youth, Jesus told him "One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me."
III. THINGS THAT KEEP PEOPLE FROM ACCEPTING CHRIST
1. For this young man, it was a love for material things.
In reality, he was disobeying the first commandment: “You shall have no other gods before Me.” (Exodus 20:3). As a result of making worldly wealth his choice and as far as we know from the Word of God, this excellent young man has all eternity to ponder Jesus’ profound question: “For what will it profit a man is he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul.” (Mark 8:36)
2. For others it might be a love for worldly pleasure. John warns us “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world--the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life--is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever. (1 John 2:15-17)
3. For yet others, it might be a desire to be popular even to the point of moral compromise. James warns us “Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” (James 4:4).
IV. THE TRAGIC DECISION THE YOUNG MAN MADE: