What Does Jesus Not Tell the Rich Man to Do Who Asks Him How Do You Inherit Eternal Life?

When the rich man asked Jesus how to inherit eternal life, Jesus responded with a question of his own: “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.” (Mark 10:18) Jesus’ response was not meant to deflect or avoid the question, but rather to challenge the rich man’s understanding of who he was speaking to and what it means to be “good.”

The rich man had approached Jesus with a specific question in mind – what he needed to do in order to inherit eternal life. He likely expected a list of actions or rules that he could follow in order to earn his salvation. However, Jesus’ response was not what he expected.

Instead of giving the rich man a clear answer, Jesus tells him to follow the commandments: “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.’” (Mark 10:19)

The rich man responds by telling Jesus that he has kept all these commandments since he was young. This is where things get interesting.

Jesus looks at him and loves him (Mark 10:21), but instead of telling him what else he needs to do in order to inherit eternal life, Jesus tells him to sell everything he has and give it away to the poor. The rich man walked away sad because he had great wealth.

So why didn’t Jesus tell the rich man exactly what he needed to do in order to inherit eternal life?

One possible reason is that there is no formula for earning salvation. Salvation is a free gift from God that cannot be earned or merited through our own efforts. Instead of focusing on what we need to do in order to be saved, we should focus on trusting in God’s grace and mercy.

Another reason could be that Jesus wanted the rich man to confront the idolatry in his own heart. The rich man was holding onto his wealth tightly, and Jesus knew that this was a stumbling block for him. By telling him to sell everything he had, Jesus was forcing the rich man to confront his own priorities and allegiances.

In conclusion, Jesus didn’t give the rich man a clear answer because there is no clear answer. Salvation is not something that can be earned or achieved through our own efforts.

Instead, it is a free gift from God that we receive through faith in Jesus Christ. By challenging the rich man’s understanding of what it means to be “good” and asking him to confront his own idolatry, Jesus was pointing him towards the true source of salvation – faith in God’s grace and mercy.