Summary: An examination of the infamous Rich Young Ruler that reveals the mistakes mistakes that led to his tragic walkaway from Christ.
He was a wealthy man, and a young man. His eyes were set on religious matters - on teachers, eternal life, good deeds. He had the look of a seeker: he seemed willing to listen and eager to learn. He seemed a disciple-in-the-making. But his story has a dark end. It was he that inspired Jesus famous words "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom." Levi Matthew was there to watch the unfolding of this man’s confrontation with Christ. Let us examine his account of the fateful meeting.
The 1st mistake: He did not recognize Jesus as Lord
The young ruler came rushing to Jesus, and falling to his knees, he asked "Good teacher, what good thing need I to do, so that I may have real and un-ending life?" Jesus, perceiving the youth’s mistakeness, answered with a question, a question that would prove the depths of the young ruler’s knowledge of God. "Why do you call me good?"
Jesus was in the habit of asking such disarming questions. The young man did not recognize with whom he was talking - a teacher, and more than a teacher. He was kneeling before the one called "greater than Solomon." The young ruler saw Jesus as a moral man, a man of insight and depth, but he did not recognize His divine authority. And to make such a mistake is fatal. As C.S. Lewis made clear, Jesus is either a liar, a lunatic, or the Lord. He cannot be only another teacher.
The 2nd Mistake: He was unaware of his own faults
Suppose for a moment that the wealthy youth had never violated the commandments Jesus presented to him. Suppose that he had never murdered - even with his tongue. Suppose that he had not committed adultery - even in his heart. Suppose that he had not stolen - or even envied. Suppose that he had never spoken less than the whole truth. Even still he was unaware of his own faultiness. Did you notice that Jesus only presented him with the parts of the Decalogue that deal with man-to-man relationships. The other commandments have to do with God-to-man relationships,and this young man had obviously not fulfilled those commands. If he had fulfilled them, he would have immediately recognized Jesus as the Son of God. But he did not recognize Jesus, and he did not tell the truth to Him about his behavior. He was wildly naive and tragically blind.
The 3rd Mistake: He misunderstood the plan of grace
"What good thing must I do to have eternal life?" There is no good thing. Only to believe on Jesus Christ as Savior. As wealthy as he must have been, he was spiritually bankrupt, and terribly poor of faith.
The 4th Mistake: He went away
In a way, this is his only mistake. A man can misunderstand the divinity of Christ, be blind to himself, and misunderstand God’s grace and still be saved if he will committ to staying with God. Peter, Andrew, John, Matthew, and the others did not fully understand the Lordship of Jesus, and they certainly did not fully understand the plan of grace, but they stayed with Jesus. They were willing to commit to a lifestyle of learning Him. They apprenticed themselves to Him, for the long haul. That is the way to be saved. If you are willing to launch out with Christ on the long journey from brokenness to wholeness, if you are willing to walk all the way, every hard step, then you are a wise men, even if you are not young or wealthy.