What Did Jesus Tell the Rich Young Man Who Wanted to Inherit Eternal Life?

In the Gospel of Mark, there is a story about a rich young man who approached Jesus and asked Him what he should do to inherit eternal life. This man was described as someone who had kept all the commandments since his youth, yet he felt like something was missing. Jesus’ response to him is something that has been discussed and debated for centuries in Christian theology.

Jesus’ Initial Response

When the young man asked Jesus what he needed to do to inherit eternal life, Jesus responded by saying, “You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, do not defraud, honor your father and mother'” (Mark 10:19). The young man replied that he had kept all these commandments since his youth.

Jesus’ Challenge

Then Jesus looked at him and loved him. He said, “One thing you lack.

Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me” (Mark 10:21). At this point, the young man’s face fell because he had great wealth.

This response from Jesus has been a stumbling block for many people over the years. It seems like such a harsh demand – that this young man should sell everything he owns and give it away! But there is more going on here than meets the eye.

The Heart of the Matter

Jesus wasn’t just asking this young man to sell his possessions – He was revealing what was truly in his heart. This rich young ruler had put his trust in his wealth instead of in God.

He thought that by keeping all the commandments and being wealthy, he could earn eternal life. But Jesus knew that true discipleship requires complete surrender – surrender of our possessions, our desires, our very lives.

Lessons for Us Today

So what can we learn from this story today? Here are a few key takeaways:

1. Our possessions can become a stumbling block

Like the rich young ruler, we can become so attached to our possessions that they actually hinder our relationship with God. Jesus challenges us to let go of anything that keeps us from following Him completely.

2. True discipleship requires surrender

Following Jesus isn’t just about keeping a set of rules or being a “good Christian.” It’s about surrendering everything to Him – our possessions, our desires, even our very lives.

3. We can’t earn eternal life

No amount of good deeds or wealth can earn us eternal life. It is only through faith in Jesus Christ that we can have salvation.

The Bottom Line

Jesus’ response to the rich young ruler may seem harsh, but it was ultimately an act of love. He knew that this young man’s heart was focused on his wealth instead of on God, and He called him to a deeper level of discipleship. May we all be willing to surrender everything for the sake of following Christ.