The other day I was asked why in the story of the rich young ruler Jesus only listed the last 6 commandments in response to the question on how to obtain eternal life. At the time I didn’t have a good answer. Some ideas but nothing that really seemed like the right answer.
In preparing to preach tomorrow I was studying the story again and I have gleaned some new insight. You can read the story in Matthew 19, Mark 10, Luke 18 and also in the Desire of Ages chapter 57.
The Young man approached Jesus after observing His interaction with the children. In watching Jesus he had recognized that something was missing from his life. He recognized at that moment that what he was lacking Jesus could provide. So he threw himself at the feet of Jesus and asked the question what must I do to have eternal life?
Jesus responded by listing off the commandments dealing with love for others. The young man believed in his heart that he had kept these commandments from his youth but Jesus saw deep into the mans heart. He responded there is “one thing you lack.” Go and sell all that you have and give it to the poor.
We know that the young man did not heed the direction of Jesus. And often we apply the lesson as his wealth was his Idol. I would like to suggest another lesson that should be gathered from this story. Jesus was trying to draw the rulers mind to realize that in order to truly fulfill the commands concerning love for others a sacrifice must be involved. Consider this Statement from the Desire of Ages, pg. 523.
Christ's dealing with the young man is presented as an object lesson. God has given us the rule of conduct which every one of His servants must follow. It is obedience to His law, not merely a legal obedience, but an obedience which enters into the life, and is exemplified in the character. God has set His own standard of character for all who would become subjects of His kingdom. Only those who will become co-workers with Christ, only those who will say, Lord, all I have and all I am is Thine, will be acknowledged as sons and daughters of God. All should consider what it means to desire heaven, and yet to turn away because of the conditions laid down. Think of what it means to say "No" to Christ. The ruler said, No, I cannot give You all. Do we say the same? The Saviour offers to share with us the work God has given us to do. He offers to use the means God has given us, to carry forward His work in the world. Only in this way can He save us.
The call to follow Christ is a call to take up our cross. Jesus took up his cross and sacrificed all that he had to ease the suffering of you and I. If we are to inherit eternal life we must sacrifice ourselves for those around us as well. I am sure that that sacrifice is different for each of us but regardless of its worldly value it must be made.