Posted by: gbake783 | July 16, 2012

Luke 18:18-30

When studying our Savior’s interaction with the rich young ruler, it becomes apparent just how “ideal” a candidate this man must have been to join the disciples’ company. He was a wealthy, earnest, respectful, and respected leader. He probably possessed all the accolades that accompany such attributes – a fine education, an even finer wardrobe, a sphere of influence that’s simply off-limits to regular folk.

It seems almost too good to be true – fruit ready for the picking. Pastors dream of building ministries around or planting churches with this type of person.

The rest of the story is well-known. The man loved his money too much to follow Christ. He had been following a Pharisaic construction of the law that made adherence possible and, even though he had misgivings about that system (“All these I have kept. What am I still lacking?” Matthew 19:20), he preferred a faith that cost him less than everything.

In God’s providence our church undertook a different study in our adult Sunday School class the hour before we dug into Luke 18:18-30. We’ve been studying the church’s great hymns and great hymn writers. This week’s subject was Fanny Crosby and two of her finest works: Blessed Assurance and All the Way My Savior Leads Me. Fanny Crosby, the poor young woman who lost both her eyesight and her father before her first birthday, hit the sawdust trail at a Methodist revival meeting and was saved at the age of 30. She wasn’t saved the first time she went forward, but eventually surrendered her life to the Savior. She would later say about those struggles, “for the first time I realized that I had been trying to hold the world in one hand, and the Lord in the other.”

The rich young ruler never stopped loving the world. Fanny Crosby realized that should couldn’t love both – one will always be the master.

The rich young man walked away investing in earthly treasure. Fanny Crosby invested what talents she possessed. She wrote over 8,000 hymns and over 100 million copies have since been made. She’s called “the Queen of Gospel song writers.”

We don’t even know the name of that rich young ruler.

It’s important to note that our Savior loved that young man. Jesus spoke kindly and directly; he tried to communicate the impossible burden of following the Old Testament law. The man coveted and needed the Spirit’s new birth to cure him of it. But wealth is like spiritual novocaine – it numbs the heart to true needs. Fanny Crosby understood this. And so did the apostle Paul, which is why he wrote, “For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.” (1 Corinthians 1:25-29)

Endnote: All three synoptic gospels record this event. Below is a composite of all three accounts. The paragraph is based on Luke’s presentation and the phrases inside the brackets are from either Matthew or Mark. Some paraphrasing was needed to maintain readability.

And a ruler [ran up and knelt before Him] and asked him, “Good Teacher, what [good deed] must I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to Him, “Why do you call me good, no one is good except God alone. You know the commandments, [if you would enter life, keep them.” He said unto Jesus, “Which ones?] [And Jesus said,] “Do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not bear false witness, honor your father and mother, [you shall love your neighbor as yourself.] [The young man] said to him, “[Teacher,] all these have I kept since my youth. [What do I still lack?]” When Jesus heard this, [looking at him, loved him] and said to him, “One thing you still lack, [if you would be perfect], sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” But when he heard these things, he became very sad [and went away sorrowful] for he was extremely rich. Jesus, looking at him with sadness, said [to his disciples], “[Truly, truly I say unto you,] how difficult it is for those who have wealth  to enter the kingdom of God.”

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