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.
In Luke 9, Jesus said “… a man said to him, "I will follow you wherever you go."
Jesus replied, "Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head." (In other words, if this many followed Jesus, he might not have a place to live or sleep).
He said to another man, "Follow me."
But the man replied, "Lord, first let me go and bury my father."
Jesus said to him, "Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God."
Still another said, "I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say good-bye to my family."
Jesus replied, "No-one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God." Luke 9:57-62
Over and over again, Jesus told these folks to pick up their crosses and follow Him,
He repeatedly called them to be sold out for Him.
Essentially, Jesus was saying: “if you’re not going to give me everything… don’t bother me.”
Jesus isn't interested in just some of their marbles…He wanted it all.
For Jesus – it was all or nothing.
ILLUS: When I talk to people who want to become Christians I go through the usual topics of Faith, Repentance, Confession and Baptism. But I’ll spend a great deal of time focusing on the topic of “confessing Jesus as Lord” that’s talked about in Romans 10:9-10.