Today’s sermon from The Church at Avenue South was about the rich young ruler who chose his riches over Jesus. More accurately, he chose to put his trust in himself, i.e. his control over his finances and his morality, rather than in the person and work of Jesus.
Riches in and of themselves aren’t good or bad. They can be used for great good or enormous evil. It’s not money that is the root of all evil; it is the love of money.
The rich young ruler started off by asking the wrong question: “What must I DO to inherit eternal life?”
Apparently, he missed where Jesus said that if you want to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, you must receive it as a little child. Or perhaps his religion of righteousness through outward improvements and better morals didn’t allow for such a thing as saved by grace through faith.
If the the young man could have done anything to gain eternal life, there would have been no need for Jesus. There would have been no need for an incarnation, much less a crucifixion. The fact that Jesus was available to answer the man’s question showed that it had no merit.
Jesus’ answer wasn’t that voluntary poverty was the way to salvation. The key was surrender. The man had to surrender his trust in his riches, his man-made empire of wealth that he trusted in above all else, to follow the Rabbi. Jesus would have no other gods before Him.
The rich young ruler went away sad because he’d rather have gold than God, silver than a Savior. The disciples, while they certainly didn’t understand a lot of what Jesus said and did, still chose to trust what they knew and keep following. That’s the difference.