Luke 18:22-30, When Jesus heard this, He said to him, “One thing you still lack; sell all that you possess and distribute it to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” But when he had heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely rich. And Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God! “For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” They who heard it said, “Then who can be saved?” But He said, “The things that are impossible with people are possible with God.” Peter said, “Behold, we have left our own homes and followed You.” And He said to them, “Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who will not receive many times as much at this time and in the age to come, eternal life.”
The question dealt with the actual point of the problem. Often questions miss the mark of asking for the real answer, so solutions are difficult to come by. Eternity has always demanded perfection. Our stumbling block is not understanding where our perfection comes from. If we think we can remotely generate our own flawlessness, we have discovered our own hubris. If we are sure we cannot find perfection because we can’t see outside ourselves, we are trapped by the truth of our own insufficiency. God demands perfection in His presence, so what is man to do? We need a stand-in to represent or create our rightness. This man wanted the answer for his life to be him. As good as he had been and as hard as he had worked, he never actually achieved what he was seeking. Jesus pointed out the problem and deflated the over-blown image of this socially and economically insulated person.
While it was surely hard to hear, the man needed to know he would never be able to be perfect in his own self. The invitation was authentic. He could have been among the many disciples that followed Jesus throughout His journeys and teachings. If the rich young ruler had decided to, he could have been among those who were blessed to literally walk with God on earth. He needed to divest himself of the weight he had accumulated in this world. His life was encumbered by the various possessions that truly owned him.
Sometimes the ultimate benevolence comes in a seemingly harsh form. This man looked in the mirror and saw a person who was pretty good. Jesus saw a man who was trapped and controlled by the things of this world. The ruler was the “ruled.” Jesus showed him the only path to freedom. Sometimes we need to free ourselves from the things that possess us.
Christ knew what the choice would be. When it comes down to it, we will all follow our own “god.” The tragedy of this story was that the young man was grief stricken by his own choice. The original language indicates that he was severely stricken with grief. Unless he repented somewhere in his life, he lived out his days surrounded by his wealth and his self-inflicted misery. Imagine every morning waking up to relive the day and the question of his life – “What do I still lack?” (Matthew 19:20) He had neither perfection or its required substitute. More importantly he lacked Jesus.
Hopefully, he stuck around to hear the remainder of the conversation.
Luke 18:28-30 Peter said, “Behold, we have left our own homes and followed You.” And He said to them, “Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who will not receive many times as much at this time and in the age to come, eternal life.”
What is it that controls us? What rules our hearts and dictates our path? Something does. We even choose our rulers. We are ALWAYS controlled by the masters of our own choosing. (Matthew 6:24) Who is your master?