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Luke 18:18-27 "WE CAN END UP SERIOUSLY HINDERING OURSELVES"
Day 224 – Luke 18
Text: Luke 18:18-27
WE CAN END UP SERIOUSLY HINDERING OURSELVES
The ruler who came to Jesus to discuss the topic of inheriting eternal life went away deeply disappointed. He was probably quite sure of himself that Jesus would be well disposed towards him, and confirm that he would have eternal life, after all, he had kept the laws of God so faithfully!
What went wrong? Who disappointed whom? We need to analyse this passage very carefully so that we do not go away having wrong ideas about what it means to inherit eternal life!
The problem actually lies squarely with the rich ruler who came to Jesus. It wasn’t that Jesus was making impossible demands on the man. Let’s take time to analyse the theological thinking of the rich ruler.
The rich ruler had certain wrong assumptions when he approached Jesus. Let’s examine these wrong assumptions.
1. In the rich ruler’s understanding of salvation, he assumed that salvation is something he could attain fairly easily.
a) He felt that he was “quite good”. Thus he addressed Jesus in a very chummy way, as if they were on the same level. He was absolutely wrong in his appraisal of his own “goodness”. He may well have been relatively good in the way he conducted his life, but was he all that good?
b) He assumed that the inheritance of eternal life was a question of much merit he had acquired in his life time. If he had been quite good and had from his youth kept all of God’s commandments, then surely he deserves to inherit eternal life. Surely God would reward him with eternal life because he had been so righteous and good!
2. Salvation is not something one merits or deserves. No one would ever be good enough to inherit eternal life! Salvation is something that God gives to a person out of His grace and favour. The way to obtaining eternal life was not through good works, but through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour.
a) The rich ruler failed to recognize Jesus for who He really was. He thought of Him as a good teacher. He thought of himself as being pretty good too. That was his mistake.
b) If he had had a humble enough attitude, he would have seen how spiritually poor he really was. He would have cried out like the tax collector in the parable that Jesus told to the crowds (Luke 18:13).
c) In Matthew’s Gospel, this ruler was not only described as rich, he was also quite a young man (Matthew 19:20). In Mark’s account, we read that Jesus loved this young man (Mark 10:21). All the Synoptic Gospel writers recorded this incident, and thus this parable was of some significance.
d) Many people assumed that if one was blessed with riches, and if one kept the commandments of God, then surely that person would merit eternal life! This was a wrong concept that persisted and Jesus had to help this rich young ruler to understand that his understanding of salvation was erroneous!
WHAT WAS THE SIGNIFICANCE OF JESUS ASKING THE RICH YOUNG RULER TO DIVEST HIMSELF OF HIS RICHES?
Would the giving away of the wealth, another great deed, have caused the young man to inherit eternal life? The answer would be “NO!” That was not the point Jesus was making. The giving up of his wealth would not have caused him to inherit eternal life also.
What then would be the significance of Jesus asking him to give up his wealth?
1. It would be a good test of faith on the part of the rich young ruler. If he really had faith in God, then he would not have minded it at all, if he had to give up everything to obtain eternal life.
2. Earthly riches in themselves do not constitute the problem. However, if hypothetically riches have to be given up… because God desires them to be given up, as an expression of faith… that would demonstrate genuine faith.
3. It is one thing to speak of possessing faith when one has not been tested and tried. What if one had to give up everything, including earthly riches, and then be asked to live the kind of life that Jesus exemplified… that would be a real test of faith indeed.
The significance of the test set before the rich young ruler was his wealth. He was like other would-be disciples who just could not or would not meet the criterion Jesus set for them. They must be prepared to give up all and then follow Christ in faith.
In order to follow Jesus as a Disciple, the individual would have to recognize that Jesus was indeed the Messiah-Saviour. He would have to recognize that he is a sinner, just as the other disciples did. Then in full demonstration of faith, he would have to give up all he had and follow Jesus and learn fresh, new and deep spiritual lessons from scratch.
The rich young ruler realized at that point of time, that he was farther from the kingdom of God than he realized! His wrong assumptions, his wealthy lifestyle, his self-assured ways… they had deceived him into thinking that he was worthy of inheriting eternal life. He couldn’t be more wrong!
“HOW HARD IT IS FOR THOSE WHO HAVE RICHES TO ENTER THE KINGDOM OF GOD!” Luke 18:24
How solemn these words were! Many crave wealth in life. Riches are not in themselves sinful, but the pursuit and the gaining of wealth can cause many people to stop short at the gates of the kingdom of heaven. The hard earned wealth seems just too difficult to set aside, even if it is for life eternal.
The present world has become for too many people a prize that cannot be given up, even if one’s eternity is at stake. This world and the wealth it offers have become too real to give up. Along the way, God and things eternal are just not real enough to the individual. How true it is that those who are rich find it hard to enter into God’s kingdom!