There is a story in Luke 18 that our pastor spoke about in the sermon. It’s about a rich young ruler. He’s rich, he’s young, and he has authority. And, yet, he’s concerned about eternity. He was probably one of the many standing around and heard Jesus tell the story of the Pharisee and the publican.
The Pharisee and the publican went to the temple to pray. The Pharisee beat on his chest and thanked God that he wasn’t like the publican and other low-lifes that he could think of. The publican, however, standing over in the corner smote his chest and asked God for mercy because he was sinner. The blow came when Jesus said that the publican went home justified and the Pharisee who exalted himself would be abased.
It’s plain from the text that the rich young ruler has a high opinion of Jesus. He, at the least, believes that Jesus is a Good Master because he calls him that. Jesus corrects him and says that only God is good. There’s a little question here. Did Jesus know that the ruler didn’t really consider him the Messiah? The ruler’s non-response would suggest that he didn’t think he (Jesus) was.
"What must I do to inherit eternal life?" he asks. Jesus refers him to the commandments which is kind of a brush off. But the ruler comes back with the fact that he has done all those things since his youth (bragging like the Pharisee). Now, Jesus hits him with it. “Sell all you have and follow me.” This is the ruler’s chance. Does he really believe Jesus is the Messiah? What do you think?
We know he turned Jesus down and walked away sorrowful. Why? Were his material accomplishments worth more than eternal life? He walked away and he’s never heard from again. The story is about salvation. His chance came. He turned it down. He walked away.