Two people came to Jesus with the very same question. It was, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” We might state it today as, “What should I do to go to heaven when I die?” This is a very good question. The two individuals who asked it had entirely different motives. One man asked it to get Jesus into a debate (Luke 10:25-37); the other, a decent young man, asked sincerely wanting to know (Luke 18:18-30). However, Jesus did not respond as you might expect. Before the topic of eternal life could be understandably discussed, Jesus drew attention to their inner life. What was the condition of their hearts before an All-seeing God?
Jesus took the wind out of the sails of the first, by asking him, “What is written in the Law [the Bible]? How do you read it?” When the man answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself,” Jesus answered, “You have answered correctly; do this and you will live.” It is hard to debate one who asks you what you think and then agrees with you! But the man, seeking to justify himself asked, “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus responded with the well-known story of the Good Samaritan. Why did Jesus tell that story? It was to show that it is one thing to know what to do (be a good neighbor); it is yet another to do it.
The second person was a rich young ruler. “Ruler,” in all likelihood, refers to his role in a local synagogue as an elder. When he asked Jesus the question, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” he prefaced the question by addressing Jesus as, “Good Teacher.”
Jesus responded, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.” Jesus then continued, “You know the commandments: Do not commit adultery, Do not murder, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honor your father and your mother.” Jesus was pointing him to five of the 10 Commandments found in Exodus 20:1-17 and restated in Deuteronomy 5:1-21.
This decent moral fellow, one whom you would love to have as a son-in-law, sincerely said, “All these things I have done from my youth.” Jesus, however, asked him if he would be willing to part with his money, and the man went away sorrowful. Why did Jesus respond this way?
Think about what was written. “What must I DO . . .?” “NO ONE IS GOOD!” “The man SEEKING TO JUSTIFY HIMSELF asked. . .” Read the story of the rich young ruler and you will discover that Jesus’ disciples were puzzled. After it they said, “Who then can be saved?” Jesus answered, “What is impossible with men is possible with God.”
Both of these men erred in their approach to God and heaven. They were trying to be good enough. Christ wanted them to see their impotence and need of grace. As Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5), it is the poor in spirit, those that mourn (over sin), those that hunger and thirst for righteousness that are blessed.
Do you see it? We must first see our sinfulness, a sinfulness that imperils our hope of heaven and the utter impossibility of being righteous through our own effort. We are not good enough! We need a Savior! All that we can do is repent of our sins and look to God in faith to save us. My friend, have you truly seen the condition of your heart? It is the right first step toward God.
– Wayne R Brandow
May I be of help to you? See the back page or go to our church website located at http://www.galwaybaptist.com .
Life in Galway, Fall 2010, Issue Two – Page 10 & 11