Read: Luke 18:18-30
Luke recalls a time when Jesus had the opportunity to interact with an authority figure, someone who carries the title “ruler.” Matthew’s account of this interaction notes this is a “young” ruler (Matthew 19:16-30), someone of social and civic prominence.
It never ceases to amaze me how Jesus gets into these conversations. He gets invited to dinner with Pharisees, who must know that He will not bow to their ways. He meets with rich, poor, blind, arrogant, humble, young, old, etc., as He makes His way from village to village.
In this case, the meeting is between Jesus and a ruler. The ruler is a good guy, respected by the people, one who has been a loyal leader, or at least that’s the impression I get. He patronizes Jesus a bit in his opening statement, “good teacher,” but Jesus will have nothing of that kind of attitude. Jesus wastes no time in getting to the point, the thing that is keeping this man from reaching the Kingdom of God: wealth. To be more precise, his love of money.
You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me. Luke 18:22
Don’t miss the first four words of verse 24:
Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! Luke 18:24
Jesus’ response is not offered to woo the crowd, though many are taking notes. He looked at him.
I suspect the ruler had many preconceived notions about meeting Jesus. No doubt he expected to be lauded for his exemplary behavior as one who follows the commandments. Like many of us, we come to the throne room with expectations, with visions of grandeur, but Jesus will not be swayed by our swagger. He looked at him. He looks at us.
The others gathered for this conversation are equally confused.
Those who heard this asked, “Who then can be saved?” Luke 18:26
Social media would be buzzing and words that can’t be printed here would be explicated. Wow! (Put in your own word or phrase.) The crowd seems to say, “If this guy is rejected by Jesus, this amazing, wonderful, civic leader, I’m a total loss!”
How quickly we become impressed by the trappings of success in this world. Jesus offers something He knew would be rejected — no doubt. He said it directly to the ruler, but I’m convinced He said it for each one of us.
Will you hold onto that which is in your hand or will you let go and follow Christ?
The funny thing is this: Jesus might not ask you to let go. He might not ask you to move. He might not suggest that you sell everything, adopt orphans, feed the homeless, or change your address. He might not. But He most certainly will if those things stand between you and Himself. I’m 100% sure of that.
One of my favorite quotes is from a missionary who gave his life in pursuit of his holy calling:
He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose. Jim Elliot
True confession: the first time I heard this I didn’t understand the quote. It took me several times to get what he was talking about. Today, I believe he was referring to this passage.
Here are some words that I would encourage you to consider:
Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.
Lord, please look at my life. You know my thoughts, my desire to know You, to reach the least, the lost, and the lonely. Lead me, Lord.