Luke 18 and 19 tells of two rich and powerful men. One of them is called a “ruler,” and the other one “chief among the publicans.” They both seemed to be ruled by money. Both of them sought out Jesus. Both wanted eternal life. The interesting thing is that neither one of them realized how short time was. Before the 19th chapter of Luke is over, Jesus has arrived in Jerusalem. By Luke 22, Judas is betraying Him. He is headed to the cross!
But when these men in chapters 18 and 19 come to Jesus, they don’t know how near the end of the story they are! This will be their last opportunity, and they don’t know it!
One of them, Zacchaeus, was affected by his encounter with Jesus. His heart is changed, and his money does not mean a whole lot. He immediately starts making plans for restitution and gifts for the poor. In my mind, I see him laughing with victory long after Jesus left his house.
The other man, known as the rich, young, ruler, wanted eternal life also. Jesus told him to sell all that he had and follow Him. Seriously, all? The Scripture said that this man went away “sorrowful.” He had great possessions, so what Jesus asked was just too much.
Years ago, I heard Albert Barr surmise that Jesus was offering this young man something special—to be a disciple…someone with a fascinating status like Matthew, Peter, Andrew, and John who left everything and followed Christ. These men walked off from a tax-collector booth, a fishing boat, their nets and livelihood, and friends. They left it all behind when they heard Jesus say, “Follow me!”
What an honor that would have been! And how scary! To leave the familiar and safe routine with hardly a backward glance. To sell out what you had at one time thought were your dreams, to turn your back on your plans, and follow the Messiah.
This seems to be what Jesus asked of the rich, young ruler. And it was too much. He couldn’t do it. If it had made sense to him, then he could have obeyed. If only what Jesus asked hadn’t been that radical. We will never know what blessing he would have had. We will never know the rest of the story of what might have happened.
I have a friend from India whose last name is Thomas. This name has been handed down through the generations of his family from the Apostle Thomas. Thomas gave his life in India but left behind converts that still bear his name in 2021.
It makes me wonder where the rich, young ruler would have ended up. Whose life would he have touched by complete abandonment and a life of faith?
Lately, my pastor has told us, “Short! I’m short!” This is a phrase that they would tell each other in the army when their time was almost up, and they were close to being discharged.
Today, I am reminding my family that we are short. What God asks of me is not too much!