“Who then can be saved?”
– Matthew 19:25
Like the “rich young ruler,” we very often come to Jesus and ask Him the same question, “Good Teacher, what good thing must I do to be saved?”
There are two important things to point out in this statement. First, the young ruler came to Jesus and addressed Him with the wrong understanding. Second, as with everything else in his life, this man thought salvation and eternity in heaven could be earned.
We should not be perplexed by this man’s approach. Many think Jesus is simply a “good teacher” or just a prophet and someone in the past who was wise and caused much change in the world for the better. Also, it isn’t too much of a stretch to think that salvation and favor is something that can be earned. After all, isn’t that how we train children to listen to us? When obedient, we generally reward them. As we examine this young rich ruler’s intentions and heart, we should be prepared to look inward at ourselves as well.
This man asked Jesus a direct, open, and honest question. Jesus’ immediate response was, “Why do you call Me good?” God is the only One excellent and perfect, Jesus was pointing out His Deity, He is God. Once you establish who Jesus is, then you know how better to approach Him. Nothing is impossible with Him.
In dealing with the second issue, Jesus tells the rich young ruler that he must sell everything he has, give it to the poor and follow after Him. Jesus’ plan was not to make this man a poor beggar, Jesus was testing his heart. And because this young soul’s heart was tied to the god of wealth, he left grieved. “It is good to possess wealth if wealth does not possess you.” Unfortunately, that is rare in any society.
When Jesus said, “it is hard for a rich man to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven,” the twelve were shocked. In their society, the wealthy were viewed as blessed by God. Their thought was, “well then who can be saved?” The answer…anyone! Obedience is motivated by love, not a desire for reward by obedience or fear of punishment. If Jesus is God as He claimed to be, then we must listen to what He said. Salvation is for anyone who believes. That is what we must do to be saved!
“…that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.”
– John 3:15