Summary: This is such a familiar Bible story that some of you may think, "I already know everything about this, so I can shove my mind into neutral & quit listening to the preacher." You see, familiarity often breeds contempt.
MELVIN M. NEWLAND, MINISTER
CENTRAL CHRISTIAN, BROWNSVILLE, TX
I am going to read this morning from the 19th chapter of the Gospel of Matthew, vs’s 16-26. The same incident is also recorded in Mark & Luke, but I have chosen to read it as recorded in Matthew 19. (READ Matthew 19:16-26.)
Undoubtedly, as I read this passage you recognized it as being about a young man we often call the "Rich Young Ruler."
A. I am concerned right now because it is possible that I’m in danger of losing your attention for a couple of reasons.
1. First of all, this is such a familiar Bible story. So you may think, "I already know everything about this, so I can shove my mind into neutral & quit listening to the preacher." You see, familiarity often breeds contempt.
2. Secondly, you may tune me out because you may assume that there is nothing in the life of this Rich Young Ruler that applies personally to you.
B. Over the years I’ve come to the conclusion that there are four things about ourselves that we don’t think that we are.
1. First of all, we never consider ourselves rich. I have never met a person who really thinks he is rich, because there are others who have much more. I’ve met a few who I think are rich, but in their own eyes they’re not.
And since this young man is described as rich, we automatically assume that what Jesus says to him does not apply to us because we’re not rich.
2. Secondly, we seldom think of ourselves as being young, even when we are. As teenagers we tried to convince others that we were mature. A few years later we often commented about how old we were getting. Now, we’re complaining that we have gotten old before our time.
This man is described as young & rich, & most of us are neither.
3. Number three, we have very little authority. Children complain that their parents are unfair & that no one ever listens to them. Husbands complain that their wives don’t respect them. Wives complain that they don’t have equal rights. On the job someone else always has more authority than we do. The result is that we never see ourselves as people of authority.
He is rich & young & a ruler. Obviously, we are not like him at all.
4. The fourth thing that we are not is underweight. I must admit that has nothing to do with the story of the Rich Young Ruler, but I decided to throw that in because it seems that almost everybody is on a diet. Whether you weigh 95 pounds or 195, almost everybody feels overweight. So I just stuck that in for extra measure.
I’m assuming that some of you have already tuned me out. Please tune me back in now because even though you are familiar with this story you might find some things about this man that really do apply to your life as well.
I. WHY DID HE COME TO JESUS?
A. Why did he come to Jesus? Let me suggest 3 reasons why he came.
1. First of all, Mark tells us that Jesus is saying "good-bye" to the people of that city. He has been teaching & preaching, making friends & changing lives.
The rich young ruler must have stood on the edge of the crowd for days listening to Jesus teach & preach. Maybe a battle had been going on within him, "I really should go & talk with Jesus. He speaks with authority, & not like any other teacher I’ve ever heard." Yet, he just hasn’t done it.
But now everybody is saying "good-bye." He watched people with tears in their eyes, saying, "Good-bye Jesus. Thank you for coming. Thank you for the change that you have brought into our lives & our town."
Perhaps he thought, "I may never have the opportunity again. I had best take advantage of this moment." So on an impulse he rushes up to Jesus. The Bible says that he ran to Him.
2. Perhaps the second reason he came is that he saw in Jesus a quality of life that he did not have, but that he really wanted.
In the verses just before the ones we read we find mothers bringing little children to Jesus. As this rich young ruler watched the love that Jesus had for them & saw the children returning that love, he must have thought, "Jesus has something I would like to have. But I don’t know how to get it." So he came to Jesus.
3. Maybe there was a third reason. Undoubtedly, he saw something in the lifestyle of Jesus that was in sharp contrast to his own life.