November 15 - Luke 18:18-30

Friday, November 15, 2013

Luke 18:18-30 – Rich Young Ruler

This story is told in all three of the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke). In Matthew we are told that he is young and in Luke we discover that he is a ruler. In all three, we learn that he is rich.

Jesus has been talking about how to enter the kingdom of God … or how to gain salvation. He has told his listeners to be prepared, to be persistent in prayer, to be humble and to approach the kingdom with a childlike faith.

In this story, he is confronted by a wealthy young ruler who wants to know what he must do to qualify for eternal life. Apparently, the young man had not been paying attention to Jesus’ teaching up to this point.

The title ‘ruler’ probably signifies that he is president of the local synagogue. His desire for salvation was sincere, he had lived a life that seemingly should gain God’s attention. What generous gift could he give or sacrifice could he make to ensure eternal life. He was a good man and he acknowledged that Jesus was a good man as well.

Jesus needed to make a point. Being a good man was not enough. Goodness that came from within did not create a relationship with God. All creation has the potential for goodness, yet all creation will not stand in the presence of God. Goodness that flows from God through each of us is what that relationship is all about.

Jesus asks the young man to sell everything he has and give it to the poor. He recognized the limitations this man had placed on his relationship to God. We know that Jesus considered the greatest commandments to be “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and to love your neighbor as yourself.”  This young man loved his wealth and himself over all other things. How could he love his neighbor if he was unable to give generously without limitation to them?

The young man still did not understand what he was being asked to do. It seemed impossible – as impossible as Jesus’ comparison to a camel traversing the eye of a needle. What man could be saved?

No man can be saved on his own. But, all men can be saved with God’s help.

Peter acknowledged that he and the other disciples had left all they had in order to follow Jesus and the Lord’s affirmation is that they will receive so much more than they left.

Preparation, persistence in prayer, humility, childlike faith and love … this is how we find our way to the eternal kingdom of God.