WHAT SHALL I DO?
(See also Matt. 19:16–30; Mark 10:17–31)
Luke 18:18 And a certain ruler asked him, saying, Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?
Susie: The gospel of Matthew tells us the young man was young (Matthew 19:20) and Mark says he came running and knelt before Jesus (Mark 10:17).
Susan: The man address Jesus as “Master” which could be translated “Teacher” because it is from the Greek “didasko; an instructor.” He also called Him “good.”
Susie: “Good” is one of those words that has become watered down in modern usage. It would have meant intrinsically good, morally upright. However, the man’s calling Jesus “Good Teacher” does not imply that he understood and believed Jesus to be the Messiah.
Luke 18:19 And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? none is good, save one, that is, God.
Susan: Jesus questioned the young man’s use of “good” to describe Him. He pointed out that only God is intrinsically good. However, as fully God as well as fully man, Jesus was the only man who walked this earth as an intrinsically good man.
Susie: At this point, the young ruler could have acknowledged Jesus’s deity by saying He was good because He was the Messiah; but he did not. He most likely only meant the address as a reverent greeting for a well-known teacher. Note that Jesus did not wait for him to answer because Jesus already knew his heart.
Luke 18:20 Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother.
Susie: In Matthew’s account, Jesus tells the young man he must keep the commandments; and he has the audacity to ask, “Which ones?” (Matthew 19:18). If I were Jesus (PTL I’m not), I might have rolled my eyes and said, “All of them, of course!”
Susan: However, Jesus replied by listing five of the six commandments that relate to one’s relationship with other people. He omitted the tenth commandment, “Thou shalt covet . . .” (Exodus 20:17). Perhaps since the man was rich, Jesus already knew that he had a “more, more, more” mentality.
Luke 18:21 And he said, All these have I kept from my youth up.
Susie: The young man arrogantly claims to have kept all these commandments from the time of his bar mitzvah.
Susan: He felt like he had checked off all the boxes and was on the road to eternal life because of his law keeping. He had a head knowledge of God’s law, but it will become obvious that the head knowledge had not reached his heart. He obeyed out of obligation rather than dedication to God.
Luke 18:22 Now when Jesus heard these things, he said unto him, Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me.
Susie: Jesus tested his loyalty to God by telling him to sell everything, give it away to the poor, and leave all to follow Him.
Susan: Jesus exposed the rich, young ruler’s Achilles heal and revealed to him where his true loyalty lay.
Susie: His devotion was to his riches, his lifestyle, his stuff. Jesus promised him “treasure in heaven,” but the young man wanted to keep what he already had rather than give it up for eternal reward later.
Susan: The wealthy young man was clinging to his earthly riches rather than clinging to God and His promises. Jesus was offering him eternal life, but the revelation went right over his head because his eyes were fixated on the things of this world.
Luke 18:23 And when he heard this, he was very sorrowful: for he was very rich.
Susan: He went away sad because he could not see clearly to obey Jesus. He saw no way to do what Jesus said and maintain his wealth and status as a ruler.
Susie: Because of his refusal to put Jesus first above everything else, the man missed out on the opportunity of a lifetime!
Ponder this and Apply it: Jesus will not necessarily ask each of us to sell everything we own and give the proceeds to the poor. He calls each of us individually to the tasks He has for us to do. However, the point is that Jesus must be first in our lives above everything else. We must trust Jesus completely and give Him priority every day in order to receive eternal life in the future and direction and spiritual success right now.