In these verses we hear a well-known story, one that is told in three of the four Gospels, about Jesus’s encounter with a rich young ruler. This young man, who is not only wealthy, but also an upstanding, moral and religious leader in his community, comes to Jesus asking how he can inherit eternal life. And Jesus's response turns the tables on him, and to everyone’s shock who is watching, as he tells the man to give up everything he has.
In one hand, this is a story about money. It's a story where we see the power money has to blind us from spiritual reality and Jesus is trying to wake us up. On the other hand, this shows that this is a story about grace. Jesus is calling this man to recognize that he cannot save his own life and can only be saved through a miraculous work of the grace of God.
So this is a story that challenges us on multiple levels. First, it challenges us to recognize that we have these idols in our lives that prevent us from seeing clearly. Especially for those of us who live in the west, money is one of those great and powerful idols. Secondly, we see that Jesus wants to bring us to a place where we can recognize that we are truly in bondage, and need to throw ourselves on to him to receive this miracle of grace that he so generously wants to give each of us.
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Luke 18: 18-30
A certain ruler asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
19 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. 20 You know the commandments: ‘You shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.’”
21 “All these I have kept since I was a boy,” he said.
22 When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “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.”
23 When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was very wealthy. 24 Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! 25 Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”
26 Those who heard this asked, “Who then can be saved?”
27 Jesus replied, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.”
28 Peter said to him, “We have left all we had to follow you!”
29 “Truly I tell you,” Jesus said to them, “no one who has left home or wife or brothers or sisters or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God 30 will fail to receive many times as much in this age, and in the age to come eternal life.”