Matthew 19: “The Rich Immature Ruler”

Matthew 19:16 (NLT) 16 Someone came to Jesus with this question: “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?”

The million dollar question, “What must I do to have eternal life?”  After some conversation with the rich young ruler, Jesus answers the question.

Matthew 19:21 (NLT) 21 Jesus told him, “If you want to be perfect, go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

Go and sell ALL your possessions and give the money to the poor? But wait, that goes against conventional wisdom. That doesn’t sound smart, nor safe, but since when is Christianity safe?

Is the purpose of Jesus and His Church to arrive safely at a place of death? I don’t know about you, but I didn’t grow up in a church that was safe. I didn’t grow up in a church that minimized the risk of what it means to really follow Jesus. The unfortunate thing about my experience is that for many of you, it’s not your experience.

For many of you, you’ve grown up in churches that minimized the risk of following Jesus, and even eliminated the element of danger. Most churches have been good at producing safe Christians. You need to know: There is nothing safe about being a Christian.

 I love the quote by Mark Batterson in his book, “All In,” Jesus didn’t die to keep us safe. He died to make us dangerous.

Empty Inside

This is exactly what Jesus was saying to the rich young ruler! He heard the rich young ruler tell him that he was keeping all the commandments, but look at (v 20): the Rich Young Ruler basically says, I’m keeping all the commands, so why do I still feel empty inside?

This is the amazing thing about this story. The Rich Young Ruler could have stopped there and been satisfied with the fact he was keeping all the commands, but the rich young ruler realized that following all the rules is only part of the journey. It is almost like we can hear the rich young ruler saying, I’m doing everything right, I’m rich, I’m young, I’m powerful, I’m a ruler who has everything, so why do I still feel empty inside?

Is that you today? Do you feel like you have everything but still feel empty inside? Or maybe this morning you don’t have anything and still feel empty! You have to know: The feeling of emptiness doesn’t have anything to do with what you have or don’t have. It’s bigger than that.

The text tells us that the rich young ruler kept ALL the commandments. He did nothing wrong, but listen: You can do nothing wrong and still do nothing right.

Be Perfect?

You know what I think? I think the rich young ruler was lacking that rush of holy adrenaline you get when you follow Christ with everything you’ve got. But there was good news coming for the rich young ruler. You see, Jesus was about to offer the Rich Young Ruler his “All In” moment. Read (verse 21.) 21 Jesus told him, “If you want to be perfect, go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

Here’s something worth noting here in the story. Jesus tells the young ruler, “if he wants to be perfect…” interesting, according to what we’ve already established about the ruler he was perfect, he was keeping all the commands.

But this word perfect doesn’t mean what you think it means. The word perfect here is the Greek word telios, meaning, to be mature or full-grown. Basically Jesus is teaching the young ruler about Holiness.

Closing

In closing: You may be keeping the rules, but it doesn’t mean you’ve reached full maturity in your faith. Jesus isn’t just asking just the Rich Young Ruler, but he’s asking us, are you willing to go ALL IN with and for me today?”