Summary: It is not about God grading on a curve, it is about being accepted because we have believed in and follow Jesus.
The Curious Case of the Rich Young Ruler
1. Those of us with little hair cannot have bad hair days. But many equivalents.
2. One blogger wrote: “Today, I was at work, nonchalantly spinning my keys around my finger when they flew off and hit a glass cabinet. Broken glass showered passing customers. I don't think I'll have a job to go to tomorrow.”
3. Or how about this one: “Today, I went to my parents' place to visit. My ex-boyfriend's photo is on the fridge, but there aren't any photos of my husband or any of our wedding photos.”
4. A man in the Bible was very devoutly religious; he had planned to see Jesus that day, and was hoping that Jesus would approve of him and commend him as an example. Instead, the man left with sadness and disappointment. He is the man we call the “rich young ruler.”
Main Idea: Like a complicated mystery with an involved plot, the case of the Rich Young Ruler seems straightforward at first glance, but is actually filled with mystery and subtle implications.
It is not about God grading on a curve, it is about being accepted because we have believed in and follow Jesus.
I. The Complexities and Questions This Passage RAISES
A What did God promise for TORAH observance?
Deuteronomy 30:15-16, “See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil. If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God that I command you today, by loving the Lord your God, by walking in his ways, and by keeping his commandments and his statutes and his rules, then you shall live and multiply, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to take possession of it.”
B. Did Jesus deny being GOOD?
1. Many self-identifying Christians believe Jesus was a sinner
2. Liberal theologians call this Jesus self-admission of sin
3. But Jesus referred to himself as the “Good Shepherd” (John 10:18)
4. Hebrews 4:15 asserts of Jesus, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.”
5. Jesus is provoking thought — this is key to understanding this passage.
C. Why did Jesus paraphrase COVETING as “defrauding?”
D. Why did Jesus only include the RELATIONAL commandments?
E. What did it MEAN for this man to sell all he had and follow Jesus?
I Kings 19:19-21, “So he departed from there and found Elisha the son of Shaphat, who was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen in front of him, and he was with the twelfth. Elijah passed by him and cast his cloak upon him. And he left the oxen and ran after Elijah and said, “Let me kiss my father and my mother, and then I will follow you.” And he said to him, “Go back again, for what have I done to you?” And he returned from following him and took the yoke of oxen and sacrificed them and boiled their flesh with the yokes of the oxen and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he arose and went after Elijah and assisted him.”
F. Did the other disciples sell what was ON HAND or everything?
John 21:1-3, “After this Jesus revealed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias, and he revealed himself in this way. 2 Simon Peter, Thomas (called the Twin), Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples were together. 3 Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will go with you.” They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.”
G. . Why did Jesus have a special LOVE for this man?
• When this man said he obeyed all this commands since youth, was he sinless?
• Of course most common sins are not even part of the 10 (forgiving others)
• He wasn’t claiming sinless perfection, but he amended his sins
• This man would be someone we would call devout, but not saved
H. Was Jesus demand an UNUSUAL one?
He [Hillel] would stand at the gate of Jerusalem and meet people going to work. He questioned them, "How much will you make at work today?" One person would answer, "A denarius." Another replied, "Two denarii." Then he would ask them, "What will you do with your earnings?" They would reply, "We will buy what we need to live." Then he challenged them, "Why don't you come follow me and acquire knowledge of the Torah. Then you will receive life in this world as well as life in the future world?" In this way Hillel lived all his days and was able to bring many people under the wing of heaven. [Avot R. Nat., vers. B, ch. 26, cited by Brad Young in Meet the Rabbis, p. 192]