ENCOUNTERS WITH JESUS

THE RICH RULER

 

The question seemed good: 'What must I do to inherit eternal life?' It acknowledged that there is a spiritual dimension to life and that death is not the end.

Jesus' response to the ruler's question came in two parts.

Firstly, he reminded him of what he already knew: the commandments relating to loving our neighbour - forbidding adultery, murder, theft and false testimony, and commanding that we honour our parents. Jesus did not question the man's claim that he had kept these from his youth.

Secondly, Jesus gave the man a direction which revealed where the man's heart and commitment really were and required him to submit to Jesus' authority. He was forced to choose between his material wealth and eternal life. He was forced to choose between ordering his own life and submitting to the command and authority of Jesus.

In this second part of his answer Jesus is highlighting that though this man might claim to have kept the man-oriented commandments, he does not keep the God-oriented commands. Though he may think that he loves his neighbour, he does not love God with all his heart and soul and mind and strength.

The answer that Jesus gave revealed that this man's quest for eternal life was just as self-centred as his quest for earthly riches. It was not a desire for God, or even for life with God; it was a bid to save himself from the torments of hell and to gain for himself the pleasures of heaven.

In refusing to follow Jesus on the terms that Jesus set, this man was rejecting God. In rejecting God he forfeited the eternal life he wanted. It is not possible to have eternal life apart from Jesus Christ. As the Scripture says: 'God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life.' Such a person 'has already passed over from death to life.'

In standing in the presence of Jesus Christ this man stood in the presence of eternal life. All he needed to get the latter was to acknowledge and receive the former.

Scriptures: Luke 18:18-30; Exodus 20:1-17; Deuteronomy 6:4; 1 John 5:11,12; John 5:24; 1 John 5:20; John 1:12.

Copyright Rosemary Bardsley 2004,2009