Luke 18:18-30 (ESV)
18 And a ruler asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 19 And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. 20 You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery, Do not murder, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother.’ ” 21 And he said, “All these I have kept from my youth.” 22 When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 23 But when he heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely rich. 24 Jesus, seeing that he had become sad, said, “How difficult it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God! 25 For 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.” 26 Those who heard it said, “Then who can be saved?” 27 But he said, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.” 28 And Peter said, “See, we have left our homes and followed you.” 29 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, 30 who will not receive many times more in this time, and in the age to come eternal life.”
A prominent young man in the community asked Jesus what he needed to do to inherit eternal life. This was the same question previously asked by the lawyer who tried to trick Jesus, but the young man added the adjective “good” to his inquiry. Jesus asked the man why he addressed him as good. He wanted to shock the man into recognizing that no one is “good enough” for God. Jesus then recited part of the Law, and the man declared that he had kept those rules. Clearly, this guy thought God would accept him into the kingdom based on his own righteousness. The commands Jesus listed actually focused on how to treat others. Verse 23 adds that this man was extremely rich. Often, those who are financially blessed use their wealth for self-indulgence and not generosity. So Jesus asked him to sell what he had and use it to help the poor. The man would lose his earthly wealth, but he would have treasure in heaven as a result. And he could follow after Jesus. This sounds pretty radical. Does one actually have to get rid of his money to be saved? Jesus knew that this particular rich man trusted in his resources and saw them as a sign of God’s favor, so Jesus asked the man to let go of the false security he clung to and fully trust God by following him. The man was sad because he couldn’t do as Jesus asked.
The rich young man was given an option. He could follow Jesus or follow money. The man chose money. Jesus then stated, “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.” This was again to shock the audience. They assumed the Lord favored wealthy people. Those present questioned, “Who can be saved? Is there any hope for anyone?” Not if people are left to themselves. But as Jesus taught, God can save. Whatever is taking the place of God in your life has to be removed from the spotlight in your heart. Is anything competing with your trust in Christ? If so, don’t walk away sad. Ask God to help you put that thing in its proper place. God is in the business of making the impossible possible.