Do We Try to Appease Christ?
And when he was gone forth into the way, there came one running, and kneeled to him, and asked him, Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life? And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God. Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Defraud not, Honour thy father and mother. And he answered and said unto him, Master, all these have I observed from my youth. Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me. And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions.
The rich young ruler came running to Jesus and knelt before Him, asking this question, “What shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?” We see Jesus feeling compassion for this sincere truth-seeker whom was hopelessly lost and loving his possessions more than his neighbors. This made his question a bit self-righteous. The question was steeped in the legalism of his day and the rich young ruler thought some religious deed would guarantee him eternal life. He didn’t understand the true nature of salvation; the gift of grace.
The answer the rich young ruler gave to Jesus was a clear sign that he was an appeaser. He claimed that he had kept all the commandments from his youth, a picture of living life according to the Law. Did the rich young ruler try to pacify Christ by saying something he thought Jesus wanted to hear? Do we try to appease God by trying to live out the Law knowing, “no one is good, no, not one?” The Law exposes man’s sinful state, but cannot bring obedience. History has revealed to us that trying to live the Law brings out rebellion. Grace leads us to repentance, whereas, the Law only, leads to disobedience and death.
The rich young ruler gave up so quickly when asked to sell all and give it to the poor. His legalist background caused him to give in motive and not go forward with Christ. The Law reveals our sin but gives no power to remove it. It is the power of the Gospel that takes away sin and with no condemnation. The Law reveals our helplessness and shows us that self-salvation is impossible. God’s amazing grace gives hope and freedom to those who are in Christ. We need to be told over and over again that nothing can separate us from the love of God and we will never suffer condemnation, if we are in Him.
The Law accuses us of sin and causes us to feel we must do something or be something to merit the approval of another. We, of course, need the Law for God gave it to us to accuse us of sin. But only God’s grace will redeem us from sin’s grip. Nothing the rich young ruler did could satisfy the sin debt; only the blood of Christ could pay that debt in full. Trusting in our good works, trying to keep the Law, or giving large amounts of money will in no way deliver us from our iniquity. It is the marvelous grace of God, His matchless gift, that redeems us and is greater than all our sin.
Thought: We must have the Law and we must have Grace–––together they are truth and life. The rich young ruler went away unwilling to submit to Christ, without acknowledging his sin, or repenting. He refused to obey Christ’s direct command, choosing to serve riches rather than God.
I pray you are willing to “follow Christ” whatever He wills for you. Following Jesus brings reward in this present time as it will when His glorious kingdom comes.