The Rich Young Ruler (Part 5)

Mark 10: 21

And looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him, and said to him, “One thing you lack . . . come, follow me.”

What was the one thing that the rich young ruler lacked? I believe it was a deep abiding trust in the Holy One. I think Jesus was preaching Proverb 3: 5 to him which reads; “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” We know that this young man was holy because he kept the commandments. We know that he loved God. That is why he kept the commandments. He had a deeper longing for God also. He was not prideful either. Those two are demonstrated in the fact that he ran to Jesus and that he threw himself at Jesus’ feet. He wanted to know how to come closer to God and was willing to chase down the man he thought could teach him that.

His problem was not that he had riches. Really it is not hard to get into heaven with riches. You just leave them behind here on earth. You go, they stay. No, his problem was that he had learned to trust in his wealth. He trusted in his skills. He knew how to live and be prosperous but his trust was in himself and his ability to take care of himself. Jesus called him to leave that life and his possessions behind and follow him. Peter, John, etc. left their goods behind and it did not seem to bother them much. They did not have their trust tied into their fishing nets. This young man didn’t know how to walk by faith though. This is what Jesus wanted to teach him. In the fourth chapter of Mark, Jesus compared the kingdom of God to seed which is planted and having been planted, after a time, yields a crop. He was trying to teach them all the law of sowing and reaping.

When Jesus called Andrew and Peter, he told them that he would make him fishers of men. In the rich young ruler’s case, he would have shown him how to sow and reap in the kingdom of God. He would have taught him how to make money by sowing, but also he would have taught him how he (the young ruler) could plant the seed of God’s word and reap souls saved and destiny bound. He could have become a great evangelist because he already knew the principles of business. He just needed to learn to operate as God and Jesus did. And he needed to learn what we are all still learning even to this day. Walk wherever Jesus calls you without fear or concern for your own livelihood. Do what he calls you to do and have no thought for your own needs. They are the responsibility of the Father. The rich young ruler couldn’t step out of his comfort zone and follow Christ. He couldn’t step out on that water and trust Christ to hold him up. He couldn’t go where Jesus called because of his fear and lack of faith and trust. Now the real question is, “Can we?”

The Rich Young Ruler

Mark 10: 21               

And looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him and said to him, “One thing you lack; go and sell all you possess, and give to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”

The body of Christ is so confused about finances. The misconceptions and misunderstandings are prolific. I find that it is difficult for many pastors to teach on the subject because they fear their congregation will misunderstand them and think that the pastor is trying to get something from them. This is an area that is important for us to understand, especially in today’s economy. We need to understand what God has to say about finances so that we can plot our course according to his way.

This story of the rich, young ruler is one of the most misunderstood and misquoted of them all. The first thing we might notice is that Jesus felt a love for this man. He was a ruler and he was abundantly rich. We have been taught that Jesus liked neither rulers nor rich people. Well, you can throw that teaching straight in the garbage because it is in direct contradiction to the word of God. This fellow was a man after Jesus’ own heart. Jesus looked upon him with love, not disdain. Jesus was so touched by the heart of this man that he wanted to fellow to follow him.

Now here we have a well propertied ruler. The guy had kept his life straight, obeying the commandments all the days of his life. This was apparently a profitable lifestyle because the chap ends up (at a young age) a ruler and very wealthy. Jesus saw in the man the very characteristics that he was trying to teach to his followers. This man was a living testament to Jesus’ teaching; except for one thing. Jesus said that he lacked one thing. What was that one thing? Jesus did not tell us. But he told the man to sell his stuff and follow Him. Apparently, Jesus intended that in following Him, the young man would gain the one thing he lacked.

We have turned this story into an anti-wealth message when it is exactly the opposite. Tomorrow we will delve further into this story and see what the Lord will teach us from it.