"One Thing You Lack"

All three of the synoptic gospels record the parable of the rich young ruler (Matthew 19:16-22, Mark 10:17-22; Luke 18:18-23). Matthew’s account tells us the man was young, and Luke’s account notes that he was a ruler from a wealthy and socially prominent family. All three writers record that the young man was rich.

As the gospels record, the rich young man approached Jesus with this question: “Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?” (Matthew 19:16; Mark 10:17; Luke 18:18).

Jesus first reminds him that God alone is good, subtly suggesting that attributing to Jesus a quality of God is to acknowledge His deity. The Lord then refers the young man to the Mosaic law, the standard of God for His people at that time. The young man was confident that he had obeyed all the law’s commandments and asked: “What do I still lack?

Jesus provides him with an unexpected answer: “One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me” (Mark 10:21). All three of the gospel writers next indicate that the young man “went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions” (Matthew 19:22; Mark 10:22; Luke 18:23).

While this account certainly gives us an example of the dangers of material substance, there’s another lesson here that is easy for us to miss. Let us observe that Jesus did not question the sincerity of the young ruler’s inquiry, nor did the Lord dispute the young ruler’s claim of obedience to the commandments of the law.

Note that when the young man says, “Teacher, all these things I have kept from my youth,” Jesus does not chide or correct him. However, what Jesus observes about this young man is indeed remarkable. He solemnly states: “One thing you lack” (Mark 10:21; cf. Luke 18:22).

See the rest of the story here

Mike Riley, Gospel Snippets

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