Rich, Young and Ruling
Last two weeks, who has approached Jesus? large crowds with sick people, Pharisees trying to trap Jesus with a divorce
question, people with their children wanting a blessing, disciples. But today, someone totally different. Luke tells us this
person was rich, he was young, and he was a ruler – someone in charge.
Ah, to be young, to be rich, and to be in charge. How does that sound? Sounds good, but . . . there are big challenges
with each. Will we be able to relate to this person?
1) What is hard about being young?
Dependent on older people, which can be good or bad. Basic immaturity/decision making. Trying to fit in. Wondering
“what will I do when I grow up.” Sadly, for some, no guidance no direction. Already in the grips of poverty. Worry
about pleasing parents, teachers, coaches. We don’t know what we don’t know about.
2) What it hard about being rich?
Staying rich. Comparison increases. Everybody wants something from you. Wanting more – the best, biggest, newest.
Paranoia that everybody wants to take advantage of you.
3) What is hard about ruling/being in charge?
Responsibility. It’s lonely at the top. Who can I trust? Families are depending on me to make right decisions, to keep the
company healthy, to see the future and position the company correctly. And, people want things from people in charge –
raises, promotions. How do I keep everyone happy?
Focus: Buried in the story is the way to have eternal life. (Read 16-26)
16 Someone came to Jesus with this question: “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” 17 “Why ask me
about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. But to answer your question—if you want to receive
eternal life, keep the commandments.” 18 “Which ones?” the man asked. And Jesus replied: “‘You must not murder. You
must not commit adultery. You must not steal. You must not testify falsely. 19 Honor your father and mother. Love your
neighbor as yourself. 20 “I’ve obeyed all these commandments,” the young man replied. “What else must I do?” 21 Jesus
told him, “If you want to be perfect, go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have
treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” 22 But when the young man heard this, he went away sad, for he had many
possessions. 23 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “I tell you the truth, it is very hard for a rich person to enter the Kingdom
of Heaven. 24 I’ll say it again—it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the
Kingdom of God!” 25 The disciples were astounded. “Then who in the world can be saved?” they asked. 26 Jesus looked
at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible.” 27 Then Peter said
to him, “We’ve given up everything to follow you. What will we get?” 28 Jesus replied, “I assure you that when the world
is made new and the Son of Man sits upon his glorious throne, you who have been my followers will also sit on twelve
thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 And everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or
mother or children or property, for my sake, will receive a hundred times as much in return and will inherit eternal life. 30
But many who are the greatest now will be least important then, and those who seem least important now will be the
4) V16 Why did this person who “had it all” even come to Jesus?
He knew deep down something was missing. He was an achiever and this was something else to achieve.
5) V16 What was the young man’s understanding of the way to have eternal life?
Do a good deed. On top of keeping the Law
QUESTION: Where do you think he got that idea? It’s in our human nature to believe that to obtain something we have
to pay for it. Is that strange? Not at all. It’s how the world and money operates. School – do the work and get the grades.
And, Jews had been taught and trained to “do” the commandments of the Jewish Law.
6) V20 What was the young man’s response and what do you think about his response?
I’ve obeyed. But surely there’s more. Somehow, he felt like something was missing.
He was way off from what Jesus had been teaching. Jesus had been saying, “Follow me.” He felt like he had to perform
some really good deed. He was performance oriented. He needed to be better than “good enough” by doing something.
QUESTION: Where do you think he got the idea that he needed to ”perform”, to do something?
That’s how you achieve things in the world. It’s not an unusual thought. He wanted to be good enough.
IMPORTANT: If you think you don too many bad things – you can never be “good enough.” You can never “pay the
price” enough. You can never “perform-do things” good enough – to obtain eternal life from God.
**How will you ever know if you’ve been good enough, paid the price enough, or performed good enough? The Law, all
these rules were to show the young man he couldn’t be good enough.
QUESTION – TODAY: What keeps people from thinking they need Jesus?
New phenomena – I’m a good person. OR – I can get anything I need, including answers, from the internet.
Distractions – This young man needed to get rid of his distractions, which were not necessarily bad things, and follow
Attachments – This young man was attached to his position and wealth.
This world happiness – There is a lot of good stuff we can do, right here in Hot Springs, in Arkansas, in the U.S. (the
world used to be a lot harsher, except for the very rich.)
SLIDE of the list
QUESTION: What are your distractions and attachments? This world happiness?
Distractions: The many distractions (and needs) of poverty. Entertainment. Instant information.
Attachments: Addiction comfort & security or substances & chaos.
QUESTION: What of this will matter when you are gone? The young man was stuck – wasn’t “mobile,” tied to his
position and stuff.
QUESTION: Where is the hidden gem, the answer that Jesus gives?
V26 Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible.”
God does the work, pays the price, sends his Son to die for us.
The impossible part: He rises from the dead in three days.
We accept the gift and trust the giver. We don’t think like the world.
REMEMBER WHAT THE WORLD SAYS? To obtain something we have to pay for it. You need to ”perform”, to do
SO HOW DOES THIS CHRISTIAN LIFE WORK? The disciples.
First Jesus asked of them? To follow him, to begin learning from him as a disciple.
Second thing? Believe on him that he was the God-man. The Son of God.
Third thing? Continue following, continue believing, BECAUSE he had an important job for them to do.
Did they do this perfectly? They did follow but they didn’t always understand. V25 The disciples were astounded. “Then
who in the world can be saved?” They still thought wealth meant good living and blessing. That’s how their world
V27 Peter was bold enough to ask: “We’ve given up everything to follow you. What will we get?”
Jesus answer: 28 Jesus replied, “I assure you that when the world is made new and the Son of Man sits upon his glorious
throne, you who have been my followers will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 And
everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or property, for my sake, will
receive a hundred times as much in return and will inherit eternal life. 30 But many who are the greatest now will be least
important then, and those who seem least important now will be the greatest then.
And that’s how Jesus said the Christian life works. Very opposite from the world’s understanding in that day and today.
That sounds good to me! How does it sound to you?