The rich young ruler comes to Jesus in Mark 10 with a burning desire in his heart. He wants to go to heaven. He understands that this life is not all there is, that there is an after life and he desperately wants to go to heaven when this life is over, whenever that may be.
“There must be something I can do to get to heaven” he asks. If Jesus would just tell him what he could do, he would gladly do it, he would do anything to have heaven. He felt there must be some way he could make himself good enough, something he could give, something he could pray, or somewhere he could go, but he needed to know what it was.
Jesus responds by saying what he needed to do was be perfect in the keeping of the holy demands of the law of God. We know that faced with the inflexible requirements of the law we all have sinned. But this man, says he had kept the commandments all from his youth up.
Jesus does not take him by the hand and invite him to pray the sinner’s prayer. What Jesus does is to tell him that he lacks one thing. Not a thousand things, not a hundred things, not ten things, but one thing. On thing was going to keep him out of heaven.
Jesus did not ask for a contribution. This man was willing and ready to contribute anything. If a contribution would do it, he would gladly write the check. Jesus did not ask for a contribution. Jesus wanted it all. Sell it all, give it to the poor, then come follow.
If the gospel was presented this way and if people understood Christianity this way, the response would be the same as this man’s, he was sad and he walked away. Man is willing to contribute but not willing to give it all. But that is exactly what Jesus requires, all of you.
The reason Jesus requires all is that the one thing keeps us from trusting him. This man’s wealth was the one thing that prevented him in trusting Jesus for his salvation. He trusted his riches and while he was trusting it, he could not trust Jesus.
One thing will keep you from Jesus. I don’t know what that one thing is for you. It might be a sinful pleasure, a misplaced priority, a person, a hobby, a job, a religion….whatever it is, that one thing will keep you from Jesus.
One thing will save you and ensure you a home in heaven. That one thing is trusting fully the person and work of Jesus Christ. No contribution from us, just Jesus, his life and his work as the Son of God, sent to save us.
What can I do to inherit eternal life? Nothing! Jesus did it all! Trust him!