Summary: Jesus told the rich young ruler to sell everything that he had, give it to the poor and follow Him. Do I have to give away everything to follow Christ? Do I have to sell all that I have in order to please Him?
Ravi Zacharias tells the story about a boy that loved collecting marbles. He lived next door to a little girl who had a lot of candy.
She said to him: “If you’ll give me all of your marbles, I’ll give you all of my candy.”
He said he’d think about it. The next day, he hid a few of the marbles in his room and offered the rest to the little girl for her candy. That night, he couldn't get to sleep. He tossed and he turned and he turned and he tossed all night because he was so troubled.
And what do you think troubled him so much he couldn't sleep? What troubled him was the the thought:
“Did she really give me all of her candy?”
In our story this morning, we meet a man who wanted everything God could give. He came to Jesus and said: “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Luke 18:18
He wanted everything God could give.
In response, Jesus asked him for everything he could give: “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” Luke 18:22
ILLUS: Some time back I watched a video of a popular young preacher who talked about the importance of taking up your cross and following Christ. He was very earnest and powerful in his presentation… but then he said:
“Jesus taught that the rich should sell all their possessions and give their money to the poor.”
ILLUS: A few years ago, the Obama administration maintained that IF the rich didn't give more to underwrite certain government social programs that that would be “morally troubling”.
Supporting that belief, comedian Stephen Colbert referred to this story about the rich young ruler we've read today and said roughly the same thing that preacher had said in that video: “Jesus actually said rich people should sell all their possessions and give the money to the poor.”
Now, there are a couple of problems with Colbert’s statement:
1st Jesus never told the rich to sell all they had and give it to the Government. I can say that without the slightest fear of contradiction. It never happened.
2nd Jesus never told the rich to sell all they had and give it all to the poor.
Now granted, the Bible does teach that the rich are responsible to help the poor. Greater wealth calls for greater responsibility and God expects the wealthy to step up and help those who are less fortunate. But Jesus NEVER said that the rich should sell ALL they had and then give it to the poor.
He ONLY said that to the rich young ruler. And He only said it to him because this young man was diseased. He was infected. He was sick in his soul.
• He was infected with greed.
• He had a sick with selfishness
The source of his disease was his love for his possessions and his money. And there was only one cure for his disease – he needed to sell everything, give the money to the poor and follow Jesus.
If this young man wanted ALL that Jesus could give then he needed to give Jesus ALL that he had. Jesus was calling for him to be sold out for Him. In fact, Jesus did that repeatedly to everyone who wanted to follow Him. He repeatedly called for His followers to be sold out for Him.