Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Blessed Are the Poor in Heart

On the homebound commuter bus yesterday, I happened to think about my possession that’s not much but not poor - maybe less than a millionth of the wealth that the world’s richest people such men as Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Larry Ellison possessed.

But I live an affluent life that Lord Jesus did not have 2,000 years ago; living with family, cozy home, nice car, decent clothes, good food etc.

I believe I possess the eternal life in Christ Jesus which the rich young ruler could not have because of his great wealth.

The Rich Young Man’s Story

 Recorded in Mark 10:17-27

17 As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

18 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone.

19 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.’

20 “Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.”

21 Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

22 At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.

23 Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!”

24 The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God!

25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”

26 The disciples were even more amazed, and said to each other, “Who then can be saved?”

27 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.”

The story of the rich young ruler is found in all three of the synoptic Gospels, Matthew 19:16-23, Mark 10:17-22 and Luke 18:18-23. The man is described as a “ruler” which means a prince or magistrate of some sort. Since no Roman ruler would address Jesus as “teacher” or “master” it is assumed that this man was a ruler in the local synagogue. This man had “great wealth” (Luke 18:23), and the impact of wealth is the lesson Jesus was teaching to His disciples. He was using this man as an example of the corrupting power of riches and its detrimental effect on the desire for eternal life. The fact that the man was young (Matthew 19:20) and already wealthy would seem to indicate that he had enjoyed a life of riches and ease and had become accustomed to it. When he comes to Jesus asking about eternal life, Jesus uses the opportunity to teach about money, not about salvation by works.

The first thing Jesus says to the man’s greeting “Good teacher,” is to remind him that no one is good except God. Jesus was not denying His own divinity. Rather, He saw beneath the flattery to the man’s heart which was self-seeking and self-promoting. He was attempting to curry favor with Jesus by falling on his knees before Him (Mark 10:17), complimenting Him, and ascribing to Him a divine attribute he never really believed Jesus possessed. Perhaps realizing his hypocrisy was perceived by Jesus, the man ignored His question, “why do you call me good? Only God is good.” Jesus, knowing the man’s heart and his self-righteousness, recited some of the Ten Commandments and told the man to obey them. This was not a refutation of His earlier teachings on salvation by faith. Jesus said this, no doubt, to try him and to convince him that he had by no means kept the commandments, and that in supposing he had he was deceiving himself. At this point, Jesus said the one thing that, knowing the man’s heart, would convince him that he was, after all, a wretched sinner in desperate need of salvation. Jesus points out the young man’s weak spot, his wealth.

By His words to the rich young ruler, Christ did not mean to say that any man would be saved by the works of the law, for the Bible teaches plainly that such will not be the case (Romans 3:20, 28, 4:6; Galatians 2:16; Ephesians 2:9; 2Timothy 1:9). Rather, he was using the man’s wealth which had corrupted his heart, as an example to the disciples and us.

Retrieved from  and shortened for posting 08/21/2012

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