Summary: Rich Young Ruler
YOUR MONEY OR YOUR LIFE? (LUKE 18:18-27)
Few Bible characters are richer than the ruler. Luke says he was very wealthy and Matthew and Mark says he had great possessions (KJV) in plural (Matt 19:22, Mark 10:22), to be compared to the singular possession Ananias donated to the church (Acts 5:1). There is scant evidence why he was called the rich young ruler other than his claim to keep the commandments since he was young..
What is money to you? How do you plan to use it? Why is worshiping money a deterrent to following God? Is money your superior or your servant?
Study the Scriptures, See Your Shortcoming
18 A certain ruler asked him, Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life? 19 Why do you call me good? Jesus answered. No one is good--except God alone. 20 You know the commandments: 'You shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.' 21 All these I have kept since I was a boy, he said.
A beggar stopped a lawyer on the street in a large southern city and asked him for a quarter. Taking a long, hard look into the man's unshaven face, the attorney asked, "Don't I know you from somewhere? You should," came the reply. "I'm your former classmate. Remember, second floor, old Main Hall?" "Why Sam, of course I know you!" Without further question the lawyer wrote a check for $100. "Here, take this and get a new start. I don't care what's happened in the past, it's the future that counts." And with that he hurried on.
Tears welled up in the man's eyes as he walked to a bank nearby. Stopping at the door, he saw through the glass well-dressed tellers and the spotlessly clean interior. Then he looked at his filthy rags. They won't take this from me. They'll swear that I forged it, he muttered as he turned away.
The next day the two men met again. "Why Sam, what did you do with my check? Gamble it away? Drink it up?" "No," said the beggar as he pulled it out of his dirty shirt pocket and told why he hadn't cashed it. "Listen, friend, said the lawyer. What makes that check good is not your clothes or appearance, but my signature. Go on, cash it!"
Salvation is not earned or by effort. It is based on God's goodness and not good deeds.
The noun ruler (archon) is traditionally translated as prince (Matt 9:34), chief (Luke 11:15) and magistrate (Luke 12:58), and for this reason the man is popularly called the rich young ruler. The ruler called Jesus Good Teacher (v 18), a title never before bestowed upon him. In Matthew's gospel (Matt 19:16 get eternal life), he asked, Teacher, what good thing must I DO to (hina) get/inherit eternal life? Do not be fooled by the adverb good, because it is the verb DO that ties all the three gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke together (Mark 10:17, Matt 19:16, Luke 18:18). He thought doing good was the key that opens the door to eternal life. The Greek purpose clause in order to (hina) have/inherit eternal life was emphatic in both Matthew (Matt 19:16 get eternal life) and Mark's gospel (Mark 10:17 inherit eternal life).
Jesus did not need to test or tell him much more than what the commandments required for him to do. However, Jesus' version of the Ten Commandments here was not the lengthy version, but the lighter version, not the detailed one but the less demanding one for a reason, to see how the man would respond with the lesser relational commandments: adultery, murder, stealing and false testimony, followed by the imperative of honoring one's father and mother.
Jesus stopped at the fifth commandment (imperative: "honor" your father and mother) because even those on the lower end or the horizontal relationship were impossible to observe, let alone the ones higher up the table or tablet -- the vertical relationship. Did God give us the commandments for our perfection? Why is it impossible to observe all the Ten Commandments? Because behind the general practices is the greater purpose. For example, God's purpose of forbidding murder is more than just the physical danger or outer behavior, but the inner life and moral character - You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, 'You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.' But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment (Matt 5:21-22) and You have heard that it was said, 'You shall not commit adultery.' But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart (Matt 5:27-28).