Posted: April 28, 2012 in Books, Christianity, Education, Family, History, Life, Lifestyle, News, Parenting, Quotes, Uncategorized

“Jesus answered, ‘If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

– Matthew 19:21 NIV

Another distinct difference in the gospel account of the rich young ruler and his inquiry about inheriting eternal life is discovered in the verse that opens this post from Matthew’s gospel. I do believe the young man’s query about inheriting eternal life is sincere, because Jesus reveals in John’s gospel that no one can come to Him unless the Father draws him. What we discover through the young man’s conversation with Jesus on the subject of etrnal life, is his sincerity is inhibited by the way he believes eternal life can be achieved. His concept of inheriting eternal life was associated with being good and doing good, which is revealed through the discourse he and Jesus share with one another in each of the gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke. In the gospel of John, we see a man named Nicodemus (see John chapter 3) wrestling with the concept of being born again in his conversation with Jesus, as we see the young man wrestle. Part of the internal mental struggle is due to their effort to try to discern, or understand spiritual concepts from a worldly, or logical, perspective. In 1 Corinthians 2 we read through the revelation of scripture, that spiritual concepts must be discerned, or understood, by the help of the Holy Spirit.

Through the gospel of John and Nicodemus’ encounter in his conversation with Christ, we understand Nicodemus sought sincerely to understand Jesus and His teachings, because it is Nicodemus who is found claiming the body of Jesus, after He is crucified, to bury Him in the tomb. Nicodemus’ sincere seeking led to his actions of preserving what he encountered in his contact with Jesus and being willing to being associated openly with Jesus when his initial encounter was during the night. There were many, who, when they approached Jesus, in need of Him seeking to receive from Him, they came with a posture of humility and reverence crying with tears, pleading, begging, or crying out to Him with a loud voice of desperation regarding Him as Master, LORD, or the Christ; while some did not consider themselves worthy to be in His company, or have Him enter their home. I do not see this in the young man’s approach. His conversation reveals he is not in need of anything to achieve the purpose for the motivation of his conversation with Jesus on the subject of inheriting eternal life.

Many times in scripture, in the gospels, Jesus makes statements that appear to be harsh, or insensitive. Some may feel His tone with the young man, as my mother always felt, was discouraging and dismissive. Closer inspection of the conversation, with the assistance of insight would reveal something quite different. First, the young man failed to recognize he was currently speaking to the only One who had kept the commandments since their youth, so consider the audacity of the statement apart from the person speaking and the One the conversation is being directed at. Secondly, the young man persists with his inquiry about what he can do to inherit eternal life. Failing to see Jesus’ initial reply in keeping the commandments, which no one has achieved, as a clear indicator it requires something more than his own merit, efforts and initiative, he continues, ‘What do I still lack?’

Insight reveals to me, that Jesus’ reply that caused the young man to walk away is directly related to the insistence upon the young man’s belief he must do some good deed to acquire eternal life. “If you want to be perfect…” Revelation of this dialogue has taught me that Jesus used Himself as a model, or standard, by which the young man would need to measure himself if he was going to use being good and good deeds to justify inheriting eternal life. “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.” – 2 Corinthians 8:9 NIV Just as the commandments revealed to us our insufficiency in living by God’s standards and could not be justified by the Law, the rich young man discovered he could not use being good and doing good as justification for inheriting eternal life, because he could not live by the standard of Jesus Christ. Jesus was the embodiment of the Law given to Moses by God. Jesus used Himself to hold the young man accountable, if he chooses the law to justify himself, then by the law of the life of Jesus Christ, he would be measured and, as he discovered, left feeling condemned. This is why, I believe, Jesus said, ‘If you want to be perfect…’ Jesus was using His life as the example of what it would take to inherit eternal life from the perspective of being good and good deeds. Notice, Jesus’ reply concluded with ‘Then come, follow me.’ Eternal life is inherited through faith in Jesus Christ. Being good and doing good will never be enough to inherit eternal life.

God does not desire that we leave this earth feeling condemned by the standard of His Law as unworthy of Him, or proud in our own merit of goodness, achievement or success as justification for inheriting eternal life. God did not send Jesus into the world to condemn it, but to save it (John 3:16-17 NIV). When the young man declared that he had kept the commandments since his youth in Mark’s gospel, the bible says that Jesus looked at the young man and loved him. Bound by our own ignorance and held captive, Jesus continues to look with compassion upon us and those who sincerely seek to understand how to inherit eternal life to set us free by the truth. Believe in your heart Jesus is the Son of God, raised from the dead, and confess with your mouth He is LORD and you will inherit eternal life!

May God bless you and help you to discover the truth of scripture in a way that inspires you and empowers you to walk by faith to encounter the fullness of life Christ came for us to have.

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