The rich young ruler came to Jesus asking, “Good Master, what must I do to inherit eternal life”. To the vast majority of the religious world, this is a wonderful example of one seeking the kingdom of God and the promise of eternal life. Yet the question demonstrates gross ignorance and arrogant presumption. In order for someone to be eligible to inherit something they must be either a member of the family or a participant in the last will and testament of the deceased. Nothing can be done to make one a member of the family for if not born a child one can never be a child. In the case of adoption, where one is made like a son, the inheritance still pertains to kinship. The inclusion of an individual into the last will is a position of honour and respect and again nothing can be done to secure this position or to earn the right of inheritance as it is a gift from the bequeathed. The only way an outsider, one who is not of the family, can be made worthy of the inheritance, must be an act of adoption by the head of the family and cannot be obtained by thought word or deed.
Jesus chides the young upstart and asks, “why call you me good? There is none good but one, God.” The question is presented as an addition to this mans list of qualifications for entrance into the fraternity of righteous since he approaches a good teacher for some direction and advice. But since there is none good but God, this man has blasphemed in giving the glory of God to a man. There is only one teacher of truth, even the Spirit of God. No man can understand the truth nor can he teach another what he does not comprehend.
Jesus then asks him if he knows the commandments of the law. Since the man feels that he has the ability to procure righteousness and thereby eternal life, he arrogantly proclaims, “all these have I kept from my youth”. The ignorant fool does not know that he has just confessed to keeping the ministration of condemnation which demonstrates that he indeed is worthy of death. The whole of the handwriting of ordinances given in the mount attests to the sinfulness of man and the glory of God. No flesh can be justified by keeping the commandments, “for by the law is the knowledge of sin”.
Jesus having compassion for the ignorance of this foolish young ruler tells him he lacks one thing. Since he has portrayed himself as righteous and the keeper of the law, the exact qualifications for the servant of God called Messiah, Christ tells him to sell all he has and give to the poor and to take up his cross and follow Him. This is what Messiah did. He sought the pearl of great price and when He found it, He sold all that He had and He bought it. He, “being in the form of God thought it not robbery to be equal with God, made Himself of no reputation and took upon Him the form of a servant and was made in the likeness of man. And being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross”. If the rich ruler would have sold all that he had and given it to the poor, he himself would then become poor. But all means everything and that is exactly what Jesus sold to redeem His people. He sold all that He had, even His precious blood to buy back His people from bondage and to make the poor rich. The scriptures record that no man is worthy to open the book of life, to open the seals or to even look upon it. No man is righteous, no man seeks after righteousness, no man can help or make intercession and yet here stands this one who would portray himself as God, righteous and holy for he had kept the law from his youth. The scriptures say that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God, yet this one said he was worthy of the gift of God, eternal life. Even if man could keep the law and come before the throne spotless and whole, he would still not be eligible for the gift of God. He would be owed his wage for the work he had done.
Only the One true servant of God, His elect, is worthy of such praise, glory and honor. “Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us that we should be called the sons of God”. There is only One whom the Father delights in for He has put His Spirit within and He shall bring forth judgment to the nations. “He shall not fail nor be discouraged till He have set judgment in the earth and the isles shall wait for His law” (Is. 42:1-4). He alone stood as the Lamb slain from the foundation of the earth and He will not share that glory with another. He fulfilled the law in righteousness so that the sacrifice of His body could be acceptable on the altar of God. He spoke all that the Father had given Him to say, He performed all the works that the Father had shown Him and He brought many sons unto justification and peace with God. He alone and no other can do that which was necessary to give eternal life to His family.
The young ruler went away grieved and full of sorrow for the Son of God had revealed to him that he was not worthy. What became of him no one will ever know, but this we do know, that by the deeds of the law shall no flesh be justified before God. Not by strength, nor by might but by My Spirit says the Lord of Hosts.
There are no dead flies in the true ointment of life and peace.
Your servant in Christ,
(Elder) Chet Dirkes
June 20, 2010