“A certain ruler asked him, ‘Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ ‘Why do you call me good?’ Jesus answered. ‘No one is good—except God alone. 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.”’ ‘All these I have kept since I was a boy,’ he said. 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.’ When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was very wealthy. Jesus looked at him and said, ‘How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! 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.’”
“What must I do to inherit eternal life?”
This question, rephrased, has rung down through the ages, “How can I live forever?”
People have sought the fountain of youth, the way to immortality. They spend millions of dollars trying to make the outside look young so it not only fools the world, but also the inside of the person. And yet our bodies, regardless of how young we look, are going to die.
So, the question still hovers over us. “How can we have eternal life?”
It is interesting that the answer is so simple and yet so elusive to people.
Jesus began His answer by declaring that only God is good. He was telling this ruler who had come with the question that He was God. He then walked the man through some of the law. But did you notice that these commandments are ones that deal with our relationships with people? “Do not commit adultery. Do not murder. Do not steal. Do not bear false witness. Honor your father and mother.”
Jesus had taught that adultery and murder are not just physical actions; they are attitudes of the heart. All of us have hated, lusted, lied, and disobeyed and we know it.
Yet this man expounded on his righteousness, “All these have I kept from my youth.”
Jesus is the Author of the law. It was designed to be a mirror to show us our sin, our need for a Savior. Eternal life comes from a heart change. So, He went to the very heart of this man by telling him to sell what he had, give it to the poor, and come and follow Him. He needed to let go of the earthly and follow Jesus. That is the way to inherit eternal life.
It is for us as well. Is there anything that we are holding onto that replaces Jesus? If so, then we cannot know eternal life. He has to be first in our lives. Is there something that we cannot lay down to follow Him?
He said it was hard for someone who was rich to inherit eternal life. Yet what is impossible with man is possible with God.
Jesus provided the way. It is simple and yet so profoundly hard for some people to do. Accept Jesus as Lord and Savior. Let go of the earthly to inherit the eternal.
The ruler left sad for he had great riches. He was missing eternity to hold onto the earthly. Sad indeed!
What joy this ruler missed because Jesus also promised blessings here on earth if we follow Him, blessings here and now and also eternity with Jesus.
The ruler asked, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?”
Lay down the earthly and follow Jesus.