“You know the commandments,” He said. “Do
not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not
bear false witness, do not defraud, honor your father and
“Teacher, all these things I have kept
from my youth,” responded the rich young ruler. He
was probably quite respected among those who knew him,
for he had done such good things.
“One thing you lack: Go your way, sell
whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have
treasure in heaven; and come take up the cross, and follow
“You know the commandments…” Could
it be that this man knew the Law’s requirement that
there would be no poor in the land? Surely
he had learned about things like that growing up. What
went on in his heart and mind when he walked past the poor
on the street? Something in him seemed to want to be right
with his God. That’s why he had kept all those commandments.
But how did he reconcile the fact that he was so rich while
many of his countrymen were so poor, especially in the
face of what had been spoken to his people about this very
issue? Did he really love his neighbor as himself?
There are those who are looking to be justified by God
and those who are looking to justify Him.
The rich young ruler proved to be someone who just wanted
to be justified. For surely if such a man had given up
his riches to the poor, God would have been justified,
and as the Master said, so would he, as evidenced by the
eternal life he would have received for trusting and obeying.
The same fear that had come upon him every time he walked
past the poor came upon him when the Master spoke those hard words.
Though he surely did want to inherit eternal life, the
demand was too great. To give up what had always been the
source of his security and comfort was too much. He could
not, or did not overcome that fear.
And so at these words his face fell, and he
went away grieved, for he was one who owned much property.
(Mark 10:22, NASB)
He was grieved as when a loved one dies. A hope that
maybe he could be right with the One who made him, that
he could have confidence of eternal life, died at the words
he heard. Every time he walked past the poor and tightened
his grip on his money bag, he knew there was something
wrong. Now it was clear.
The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden
in a field which a man found and hid, and for joy over
it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
(Matthew 13:44, NASB)
One walks away grieved because he is told to sell all
that he has and give to the poor, but another gladly gives
up all he has for the joy of finding the Kingdom.
I will give of the fountain of water of life
freely to him who thirsts. He who overcomes shall
inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall
be my son. (Revelation 21:6-7, NRSV)
It seemed as though the rich young ruler was thirsty,
at least enough to come and ask about inheriting eternal
life. Why didn’t he receive the water of life, especially
if it is given freely? “He who overcomes…” There
must have been something he did not overcome.
Maybe he was not that thirsty. Fear prevented
him from responding to the requirement for him to have
eternal life. Of course there was an obstacle, but then
the Master knew there would be obstacles to following Him
and gaining eternal life. That is why He said things like, “He
who overcomes” and “pick up your cross.”
The one in Matthew 13:44 who sold all that he had to
buy the field obviously got to drink the water of life.
Certainly the same fear that came to the rich young ruler
could have come to him, but he proved to not be a coward.
The treasure had more value to him than even his own life
in this world.
He who loves his life loses it; and he who hates
his life in this world shall keep it to life eternal. (John
Nothing secures your life in this world more than riches.
Certainly you would have to hate your life in this world
to give up your riches. One who loves his life in this
world has to put his trust in riches.
Children, how hard it is for those who trust
in riches to enter the kingdom of God. (Mark 10:24, NKJV)
The Love of Money
Some longing for wealth have wandered away
from the faith in their greediness, and pierced
themselves through with many sorrows. The love
of money is the root of all evil.
(1 Timothy 6:9-10)
As a poisonous plant whose toxic roots contain
the potency to kill, so the love of money is
the root of all evil, eventually killing the one
who drinks of its pleasures. Love means the
direction of your will, what you delight in and
direct your energy toward. The love of money
begins as a normal inclination toward comfort and
pleasure, but like all plants, it grows as you
water it. It becomes the dominating factor that
directs your life, becoming an insatiable appetite
for wealth that consumes your time, energy, and
thought life. As your wealth increases, you become
ever more attentive to and worried about your assets
and expenditures. Before long the plant begins
to blossom into a voracious desire to accumulate
wealth, ultimately bearing its deadly fruit.
Revelation 21:8 describes the fate of those who fail to
overcome whatever stands in the way of drinking the water
of life. They are the “cowardly and unbelieving.” Of
all the things listed that cause a person to be worthy
of the second death, or lake of fire, the first is the
worst. The greatest crime of mankind, the worst possible
crime you can commit is to reject Messiah. It is the rejection
of God’s love.
This is not talking about those who have never been offered
the water of life, but those who are offered the opportunity
and refuse, just as the rich young ruler did. They refuse
to put their trust in Messiah because of the fear of losing “their
life in this world.”
All his life the rich young ruler had lived in the fear
of losing what made his life on earth so comfortable. God’s
grace had come to set him free from that fear, to save
him from his sin. He could have been set free from his
fears by putting his trust in Him. He could have picked
up his cross and followed Him. The cross would have crucified
his self-life that was so dependent on those earthly riches.
But he didn’t embrace it. He was a coward. When push
came to shove, he gave in to fear. He could not put anything
above his own security.
That is the aspect of being a coward that is so dangerous.
When a coward’s life is in danger, he will do anything
to protect it. How many atrocities in history have been
performed according to that principle? So the cowardly
and unbelieving in Revelation 21:8 are those who refuse
to believe because it threatens their self-life.
But woe to you who are rich, for you are receiving
your comfort in full. (Luke 6:24, NASB)
“Woe” is a solemn warning of impending doom.
The woe to them is because when life in this world comes
to an end, so will their comfort, just as Abraham told
the rich man,
Child, remember that during your life you received
your good things, and likewise Lazarus bad things; but
now he is being comforted here, and you are in agony. (Luke
The grief that the rich young ruler walked away with
was just a foretaste of an eternity of torment. Woe to
him! Oh, so sad! He could have done what the disciples
did. Perhaps until that point he had been powerless to
overcome the grip his riches had on his soul, but as the
Master told His disciples that day, “With God all
things are possible.”
Fulfilling the Law
Do not think that I came to abolish the Law
or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish, but to fulfill.
(Matthew 5:17, NASB)
Since its beginning, Israel, the people of God, had known
that they should have no poor among them. It
was part of the Law. Why were there so many poor in the
time of the rich young ruler? Though the Law outlined the
goodness of God’s heart, it did not have the power
to free man from his sin — the thing that had always
stopped them from really expressing His heart.
That is the very reason that God sent His Son,
And she will bear a Son; and you shall call
His name Yahshua, for
it is He who will save His people from their sins. (Matthew
What could not be done through the Law, as good as it
was, had to wait for the Savior. The Savior certainly did
not come to nullify the Law, but rather, by setting man
free from his selfish nature (which caused him to sin),
give him the ability to fulfill it. He did not come
to fulfill it all by Himself. He was not going to eliminate
poverty on His own. But by setting men free from their
self-centered existence so that they could “give
to the poor,” the Law would be fulfilled. That is
the “all things” that are possible with God.
Wealth: Its Enticements and Promises
The deception of wealth promises independence,
success, comfort, security, happiness, and freedom,
etc. But in reality it produces self-imprisonment,
dysfunction and divorce, compounded sorrows, fretfulness
and insecurity, concealments, treachery, and slavery
to excess and indulgence. Selfish ambition and
the lust for personal gain will destroy the one
it entices. The desire for riches in this life
causes men to fall into a pattern of constant
temptation. It is a snare in which many
foolhardy and harmful lusts overtake and plunge
men into destruction. Once the poison is taken
into the soul, once the taste for it is acquired,
it brings certain ruin.
A man’s personality and characteristic tendencies
are molded by what he loves. Unless the love of
money is uprooted, it will eventually overtake
his soul. His intellect, will, and emotions will
conform to its lusts and desires. An inescapable
ruin falls upon him, which he must carry for eternity.
 2 Peter 2:19
 James 3:14-16
 1 Timothy 6:9
 Matthew 15:13
If only he had put his trust in the “good teacher” like
those disciples who said, “See we have left all to
follow You.” For to them the Master responded,
Truly I say to you, there is no one who has
left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or
children or farms, for My sake and for the gospel’s
sake, but that he shall receive a hundred times as much
now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters
and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions;
and in the age to come, eternal life. (Mark 10:29-30)
Not only would the rich young ruler have received eternal
life, but also a hundred times what he had given up, in this age.
What he gave up for Messiah’s sake would be put into
the pot with what others who had the same response gave
up, in order to create a “common pot,” or as
Paul said, a “commonwealth.”
Remember that you were at that time separate
from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel,
and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope
and without God in the world. (Ephesians 2:12)
It is what those who had given up all for His sake established
after His death and resurrection:
And all those who had believed were together,
and had all things in common; and they began selling their
property and possessions, and were sharing them with all,
as anyone might have need. (Acts 2:44-45)
And the congregation of those who believed were
of one heart and soul; and not one of them claimed that
anything belonging to him was his own; but all things were
common property to them. And with great power the apostles
were giving witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus,
and abundant grace was upon them all. For there was not
a needy person among them, for all who were owners of land
or houses would sell them and bring the proceeds of the
sales, and lay them at the apostles’ feet; and they
would be distributed to each, as any had need. (Acts 4:32-35)
Finally, through the saving power of Messiah they were
able to fulfill the wonderful Law. They were producing
the fruit of the Kingdom of God.
Too bad the rich young ruler did not have the heart to
conquer his fears and put his trust in Messiah. Too bad
he put his trust in riches. Too bad he was a coward. If
only he had overcome!
So therefore, no one
of you can be My disciple who
does not give up all his own possessions. (Luke 14:33)
No one can keep the comfort of his possessions and have
the God of all comfort be his God at the same time. What
He had required of the rich young ruler was part of the
formulation of the Gospel that would communicate the same
requirements for everyone. For the Gospel is the power
of God to transfer them out of the domain of darkness and
into His kingdom. How
can anyone really put their trust in Him if they have not
taken it off their possessions?
story of the “rich young ruler” is in Mark
10:17-30, Matthew 19:16-30, and Luke 18:18-30
19:19; Leviticus 19:18
it was “Yahshua,” which means “Yahweh’s
Salvation.” See What’s
in a Name.
Corinthians 1:3-4 Blessed be the God and Father of our
Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all
comfort; who comforts us in all our affliction so that
we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction
with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted
1:16; and Colossians 1:13