The Rich Young Man

by Jason on August 22, 2009

I spent some time reading through Mark 10 this week.  The very famous conversation that Jesus has with the Rich Young Man is an interesting one.  Jesus so powerfully cuts to the heart of the matter as he always does with those he interacts with.  This is a great passage and a very convicting one as well.

My heart is drawn to treasures of lesser value and I often miss the fact that Jesus is the greatest Treasure.  But He looks at me and loves me and asks me to continue to get rid of those things I value higher than him that my joy may be full.  He does that for you as well just as he did with the Rich Young Man.

Mark 10:17-22

17 And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 18 And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. 19 You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’” 20 And he said to him, “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.” 21 And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 22 Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.

ESV Study Bible Notes:

Mark 10:18 Why do you call me good? To ask this question, Jesus assumes the perspective of the rich young man. No one is completely good except God alone, therefore it is not proper for the young man to address Jesus as “Good Teacher” until he is ready to acknowledge that Jesus is God.

Mark 10:19 You know the commandments. Jesus initially seems to agree with the young man’s framework (cf. note on v. 18), which is essentially, “do well, and you will inherit the kingdom.” But he is about to show the man how far short he falls of keeping the most important commandment (see note on v. 21). Do not defraud probably combines the eighth (not stealing) and ninth (not bearing false witness) commandments.

Mark 10:20 all these I have kept. The rich man answers Jesus’ challenge (v. 19) in the affirmative (cf. Paul, prior to his conversion, Phil. 3:6). From a human perspective, his answer is plausible. However, once the righteousness of God sheds light on the human condition (see Rom. 3:21–26; Phil. 3:7–11), human righteousness is seen to be no more than a thin cover-up for mankind’s basic hostility toward God (Col. 1:21).

Mark 10:21 Jesus . . . loved him. Jesus speaks lovingly to the man’s heart. You lack one thing. The man has replaced direct trust in God and its reward (treasure in heaven) with earthly riches. He thus fails the first commandment, “You shall have no other gods before me” (Ex. 20:3). This does not mean that every disciple of Christ must sell all that he has; rather, the heart must be focused on God, and every possession yielded to God, with the result that possessions will be handled as a form of stewardship.

Mark 10:22 he went away sorrowful. The man’s true state has been laid bare, but he does not repent.


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