Why did the rich young ruler ask about eternal life?

(Roshan bhagora) #1

Mark 10:17 (As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”)

What made rich young man to ask such question?

(SeanO) #2

@Roshan If I am understanding the passage correctly, what we have here is a young man who has always sought to keep the rules. His success in life has come from his conformity to the moral standards of his culture. In his view, it has been his own goodness that has helped him succeed and that will ultimately get him into Heaven.

So when he hears about Jesus, the rich young ruler wants yet another rabbi to tell him that he is good - that he has earned eternal life. He is seeking to vindicate himself by his works. If he can get this amazing teacher - Jesus - to declare that he has kept all the commandments, what better stamp of approval could he get than that?

I think there are a few things to note about this teacher:

  • Jesus goes out of his way to be very clear that only God is good. Jesus is not denying His own goodness, but trying to help this young man understand that he cannot earn his way into Heaven
  • Which of the commandments is missing from the commands Jesus list? Notice that Jesus does not mention the first 4 commandments about loving God.
  • to show the man that he loves his money more than God, Jesus asks him to surrender his earthly wealth for treasure in Heaven. Now Jesus has pierced the man’s heart - the man did not love God more than his wealth - he had an idol in his heart. He had broken the first and greatest commandment - to love God will all that you are…

Mark 10:17-22 - As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

18 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. 19 You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud, honor your father and mother.’”

20 “Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.”

21 Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

22 At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.

(Sara Isaac) #3

Thank you Sean for this answer. I never looked at it this way, that this young man was seeking validation from the religous society by keeping the Law, and from the secular society by attaining a highly ranked financial status.

(SeanO) #4

@saraisaac Glad it helped! If you are interested, you should check out this sermon from Tim Keller. It was as a result of this message that I first thought deeply about the fact that Jesus mentioned the ‘love neighbor’ commands but not the ‘love God’ commands.

(Sara Isaac) #5

Oh, thank you! I will check it out.

(Roshan bhagora) #6

Thanks @SeanO for answering again.
I never thought like that about this question…thanks again

(SeanO) #7

@Roshan Glad it was helpful! The Lord bless you as you study His Word.