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The Rich, Young Ruler

Our Scripture today caught me by surprise a few weeks ago. I’ve read this story many times, but for some reason, I’d never noticed this short sentence in the middle of the vignette I’d always known as the story of the ‘rich young ruler’. In this scene from the life and ministry of Jesus, the scripture relates that a young man came to Him and asked: “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” The Lord responded, in essence, “keep the commandments.”

The rich man’s response to this, related in Matthew’s rendition of the story, is very telling. He said, in paraphrase: “I’ve done all those things. What do I still lack?” This man, who had done the checklist of all the required good deeds, somehow knew in his heart of hearts that he still lacked something in order to gain eternal life. In fact, this is a key for anyone seeking to experience the Kingdom of God in a deeper and fuller way. We must recognize that we lack something. This man recognized his need and came to the right One for help.

The next thing the story relates in both Matthew’s and Mark’s account of this encounter was this surprising phrase: “Jesus looked at him and loved him.” Wow! The King of the universe had a personal love encounter with this man. Jesus was personally connecting with this man in this moment. As He does, I believe, with everyone at some point in our lives, Jesus was having that moment with this rich man – and He called the man to follow Him. Any of us who are following Jesus have had this divine encounter – a point of decision – a crisis of belief – a challenge to take a step of faith. In reality, for a disciple of Jesus, these sorts of encounters happen more than once in our walk. Each time, He calls us deeper. Here the Lord challenged the rich man to choose Him over his current gods.

Sadly, this man turned away, for his heart was married to his idols. Though he had a desire for the Kingdom, he could not let go of his gods. If he had only known that Jesus’ intention was to free him from those things – not to deprive him. What could have been in this young man’s life had he said yes to Jesus? He might now be named in scripture as one of Jesus’ close followers and disciples. He would have had an amazing testimony that impacted others. And of course, we know he would have experienced all the good gifts of the Spirit, like peace and joy, that the Lord offers His disciples.

What might the Lord be asking us to lay down today? He asked this man to lay down something the man thought he couldn’t live without, but which was actually a burden holding him back from moving into an eternal Kingdom life. If Jesus is asking you to lay something down, remember that it is because He is looking at you, loving you and wanting to set you free to enter fully into His Kingdom life.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for loving me. Show me anything I may be holding on to that You are asking me to lay down, so I can truly follow You. I want to follow You. I lay it down today. Amen.
 

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Scripture

"Jesus looked at him and loved him."
Mark 10:21, NIV

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Today's Writer

Matt Moore Matt is the National Director of Ellel Ministries USA where he serves with His wife Becky and their two daughters. Matt grew up in Indonesia. He was a corporate litigation attorney for 10 years and a pastor for 8 years before he joined the Ellel USA team in 2014.

Matt Moore


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