We’re familiar with Jesus interaction with the man known to us as the Rich, Young Ruler (RYR) who comes to Jesus looking for Jesus’ seal of approval for a life well lived. The RYR asks the question, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” Then, in an attempt to challenge the man’s entire Life Program of human and moral goodness, Jesus gives a surprising answer regarding the one thing that the RYR lacks in order to inherit eternal life, “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
What do you think about Jesus’ answer to the man’s question? How would you answer the query of your neighbor who asks, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” I would answer my neighbor by pointing him to Jesus as the way, the truth and the life. That He died to pay the penalty for our sins and to satisfy The Father’s holy wrath that was due to us. I would say you must repent and believe the gospel. In fact, in all of my years of sharing the plan of salvation, I have never told anyone that they needed to sell everything they have and give it to the poor.
There is also no record of Jesus giving this same salvation plan to another. He tells Nicodemus that he needs to be born again, but doesn’t mention money. He tells the woman to go and sin no more but fails to mention the poor. He tells money-loving Zacchaeus to give half of his money to the poor before announcing that salvation has come to his house, but he doesn’t have to give everything to the poor. Jesus certainly doesn’t command everyone to give it all away in order to inherit eternal life but the RYR must give it all away in order to go to heaven. Christ tells THIS man that he must give up his earthly inheritance to receive eternal inheritance.
So does Jesus create a customized salvation plan for each individual? Kinda Sorta! Looking back, the bare recital of the law had no effect on the RYR, so Christ employs other words for detecting the hidden disease in the man’s heart. He places his surgical finger on the precise place of self-rightness in the man. The RYR is not just self-righteous about his morality, he is self-righteous about what he has. His confidence, trust, security and identity are wrapped up in his money and possessions. So, with crisp, clear and steely vision Jesus sees through the projected image of moral rightness and exposes the man’s true savior! No man can serve two masters and Jesus will not be your savior if you have another.
Think about it this way, the call of the gospel is never just start Trusting Christ. The call of the gospel is stop Trusting Other Things and Start Trusting Christ. Repentance and Faith are the twin sisters of our gospel response which lose their meaning and context when seperated. Jesus’ customized salvation plan for individual people is always this: “stop trusting in your false savior and start trusting in Me.” Because Jesus knows our hearts, he sees through our false piety to the place where our basic spiritual justification and identity originate.
So what is the one thing you lack? What is the one thing that you trust in to make you feel RIGHT in your heart, in relationships, in the universe, before God? What is the one good thing about yourself that justifies your Life in the universe? Repent and Believe!