Matthew 19:16 - 23
ESV - 16 And behold, a man came up to him, saying, "Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life? 17 And he said to him, "Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.
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What are the 10 commandments of God? # 1 - I am the Lord your God, you shall have no other Gods before me. The rich young ruler made his riches his God. We must obey the 10 commandments in order to put Christianity first in our lives. We are saved through grace because we failed in our walk to obey the number one commandment. God knows the heart of everyone. The heart is wicked. That is why Jesus taught us to renew our minds and to believe in our hearts that He is the only way to Salvation... Amen
Jesus started from level of the young ruler’s understanding of religion – that keeping the law equated to righteousness and therefore qualified one for entry into heaven. Jesus being the Master that He was led the young ruler through levels of knowledge until a point where he understood that the formalities of keeping the law couldn’t guarantee him eternal life or lead to a fulfilling relationship with God. In all his life the young man had a remote and dim view of God – a God who only wanted to be appeased through our “good” acts as prescribed in the books of Moses and the prophets. From the tone of the discussion it would appear that the young man genuinely sought to resolve turmoil within himself that had been raging for a while. He just had no idea what it would take to resolve. He also likely had consulted several scholars in his local synagogue, but had never received a satisfactory answer. Jesus was in a sense his last resort having probably been drawn by the many good stories he had heard about the wisdom of Jesus the Rabbi. That is why he addresses Jesus as “good Teacher”. Jesus sought to redirect the attention of the young man away from the mistaken idea that God’s must be appeased through our efforts at keeping the law. He instead inculcated in the young man that God wants a sacrificial relationship with us. He wants us to sacrifice and remove anything that stands between us and Him. Only we can do that for ourselves, it cannot be done on our behalf. To the young man that thing was his cherished wealth. He had turned his wealth into a “major” god while demoting God to the background but still hoping to reach heaven and be with God eternally. Jesus had to shock the young man into realizing his situation and that nothing could be more important than God. He had to choose between God and his possessions. All of us come to that point in our lives where we have to make a choice between God and some other thing that we hold dear. In fact this may happen several times in our lives as the Holy Spirit peels off years of misconception one by one. It is up to us to accept what has been revealed of us and change or cling to what we hold dear and walk away from God. To the young man it was his wealth, to some it is probably food, clothing, people, tradition, entertainment etc. We must be prepared to die to these things. Luke 14:26 and Mathew 10:37. The rich young ruler was most probably very faithful in tithes, offerings and many other requirements of the law. He told Jesus in his defence that he had done all these things all his life. He was impeccable in that regard. But yet a still small voice deep in his heart kept telling him, it was not enough. If only he had read he verse that said “I desire mercy and not sacrifice” Hosea 6:6. Mercy demands of the heart, whereas offerings and sacrifices could come from our abundance as a formality and to show off. Jesus chose to draw the attention of the young man to that which was a barrier from a fulfilling and loving relationship with God. Removal of that barrier was his duty and it was within his power to do. No one, not even God could do that for him because that would have violated the young man’s right to choose. The choice was tragic in the end but it is a lesson to us, that faith is a personal relationship with God. There is no other way for us to live.
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