The story of the rich young ruler, in my experience, has always been presented in one way…he cared too much for his stuff. This is true…to a point. Is the conclusion that we have often been led to actually correct? Or perhaps we, too, are missing which point Jesus was trying to make.
The opening question by the man was about eternal life. Jesus gives the Great Commandments as the response, plus a few ones that had been problematic with the religious elite. We could question the truth of the man’s statement but note that Jesus didn’t.
Yes, Jesus could have just been condescending, however, Jesus’ words were not particularly sharp, which tells us that he accepted the man’s words. There was likely a have-been/continue-to-do-so tension, meaning that it was an ongoing practice, not just a past one.
This is significant as by straight reading the man had lived in such a way as to have eternal life. We who follow Jesus might question that, but that Jesus gave such a response is critical. For those who might conclude that this is a universalist response, the man was still a Jews, and thus one of the chosen.
However, was eternal life really the question? The man believed that despite the seemingly positive response he still lacked something. Jesus let him have it. Yet was that really the answer? We conclude so because the man walked away. It could be truly a matter of the heart.
Our earthly responses often seem to affect our response to the security of our salvation. The writer of Hebrews noted that much had to be done on a regular basis by the Temple priests to keep things “okay” between God and man (this is by the Law, not relationship). The writer of Hebrews goes on to explain that Jesus is the perfection of restorative relationship. Jesus’ mere presence in Heaven (and as part of the Trinity) is a perpetual “offering” on our behalf.
In the heart of the man is a question I hear from many people, and in my darker moments, I ask myself. “How do I (really) know that I am saved?”
It is through the author of Hebrews and the words of Paul that we get this answer. These words are first laid upon the solid foundation that is Jesus Christ, whose grace, mercy, love, and faithfulness are truer than we are capable of understanding.
1) What do you understand from our passage in Hebrews that applies to the sureness of (y)our salvation?
2) What do you understand from our passage in Romans that applies to the sureness of (y)our salvation?
3) Why do you think it is so hard for us to accept the truth revealed by the Scriptures regarding our salvation?
Triune God, you created us. You gave us life. You gifted us salvation. You graced us with eternal life. Help us to seek that it is not our works that save us, but you alone. Amen.