He went away sad...
I was reading about a book the other day that uses the story of the rich young ruler in evangelism.
(Luke 18:)18A ruler questioned Him, saying, "Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?" 19And Jesus said to him, "Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone. 20"You know the commandments, 'DO NOT COMMIT ADULTERY, DO NOT MURDER, DO NOT STEAL, DO NOT BEAR FALSE WITNESS, HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER.'" 21And he said, "All these things I have kept from my youth." 22When Jesus heard this, He said to him, "One thing you still lack; sell all that you possess and distribute it to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me." 23But when he had heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely rich.I have my own thoughts on how this should be viewed evangelistically. Think about how this man approached the Lord. "What shall I do?" This is sinful man's quintessential problem, as far as I can tell. He is a filthy sinner but he thinks he can DO to gain God's favor. The guy did not see himself as having a problem, did he? He thought he was alright with God. “All these things I have kept from my youth.” This certainly does not seem like someone who knows they are lacking, yet he asked about “inheriting eternal life.”
Jesus tells him firstly, “Why do you call me good? There is none good but God.” I think that is a two-fold comment from the Lord. I think He is referring to His own Personage… and also trying to derail what He already knew was in this rich young ruler’s heart – pride in his own goodness and efforts. However, being that there is none good, Jesus found it simple to point out a lack in the man’s goodness.
The man went away sad. Why? Did Jesus give him good news? Not really. Jesus told him how he lacked. The man did not want to do what Jesus asked. The man did not ask Jesus for anything either, did he? He simply went away sad. I think a lot of people go away sad when they want to work their way to God’s favor without receiving His free gift. A message to the lost that tells them what they must commit or give up to receive the gift that Christ purchased, as recorded in the remainder of Luke's gospel, makes me sad too.
In the next few verses, Jesus tells his disciples that he is going to be handed over to the Gentiles, killed, and on the third day rise again. This is the awesome thing that He does so that He can make it possible for rich and poor alike to be saved and receive eternal life. Once they have this life, are regenerated, we have real examples of people giving up many things for Christ. It is possible with the Holy Spirit in one's inner being to do many things that would otherwise seem as impossible as a camel passing through a microspcopic opening, or a gate that is very small. ;~)
Now I do believe in the book that I referred to in the opening paragraph, the LS gospel is presented. IOW, this passage is viewed as the requirement for eternal life, for regeneration – give up, give up, commit, commit, and you can be saved, born again. What a travesty. I think if I were speaking about this passage to someone who did not know the Lord, I would use it to point out the problem of being self-righteous, and of not recognizing who Jesus is, of not asking for mercy, as the beggar at the end of the chapter did.