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Mark 10:17-22

The account of the Rich Young Ruler is one of the tragedies of the Bible.

• It must have been quite a scene that day. Jesus was headed to Jerusalem to die, when suddenly, this young man came running toward Jesus and knelt before Him.

• The Bible says that as Jesus looked at this young man, He did more than just look at him; He “beheld” him, that is, he looked within the young man and saw in him such promise and potential. And the Scriptures tell us that Jesus loved him.

• He seemed to have everything in his favor. There was so much right about him. For instance, the young man came at the right time. There is no better time for people to come to Jesus than when they are young. He came to the right Person, the Lord Jesus. He asked the right question, a question about the eternal destiny of his soul. He received the right answer; Jesus told him how to go to heaven.

• He came at the right time; he came to the right person; he asked the right question; he got the right answer – yet, tragedy of tragedies, he did the wrong thing.

• He came close to being a Christian: he came close to being saved; yet, he turned and walked away. He threw away his opportunities to be someone forever. Through he came to Jesus, he turned his back on Jesus and went away sad...sorrowful.

• Somebody said that he had one foot in heaven, and then turned away from Jesus and walked into hell.

This account shows how some can show great interest in the gospel but never come to a saving relationship with Jesus.

He went away from Christ, not because he came to the wrong Person, or because he heard the wrong message, or because he didn't believe, but because he was unwilling to admit his sin, forsake all and follow Christ. And he went away sad...sorrowful. He is the only person in all of recorded Scripture who came to Jesus and went away sad. The only reason a person will go away sad from Jesus is that they refuse to do what Jesus tells them to do. A person who says “no” to Jesus and turns their back on Him will always leave sorrowful.

Three things I want you to see from this passage:

I. The Man 10:17

Combining the accounts of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, we discover that this person who came running to Jesus was a rich young ruler. His name is not given, but we find three things about him:

A. His Qualities

1. His youth


- The young man was in his prime when he came to the Lord. It's good to come to Jesus at any

age – even when you are old, but how much better to come to Jesus when you are young.

- Someone put it this way: “Why give the devil the flower of your life and leave only the stem

for God.”

- One night D. L. Moody came home from a revival service and his wife asked him if any

were saved. He said, “Yes, there were two and a half saved.” She said, “You mean two

adults and a child?” He said, “No, I mean two children and one middle-aged man.”

- Ecclesiastes 12:1 Most of us know the first part of this verse, but the last part means, “lest

we waste our lives and later look back and say, 'Oh, if only I had lived for God while I was many regrets would never have been.'”

- The truth is that it is dangerous not to come to Christ while you are yet young and tender and

sensitive to the voice of God.

- 85% of those who are saved are saved before they get out of their teens.

2. His Enthusiasm

- He RAN to Jesus! He wanted to capitalize on his opportunity.

- He was enthusiastic about the welfare of his soul. That's unusual!

- How many folks have you ever seen run to Jesus?

3. His Humility

- The young man knelt before Jesus. He didn't strut to Jesus. God honors humility. He can

manifest His grace to those who are of a contrite spirit.

- The Beatitude given first is “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of


- God hates pride. The truth is, man has nothing to be proud about, because we have all

sinned and come short of the glory of God.

- This young man knelt down before Jesus. You don't see folks kneel much any more, even on


4. He was Morally Upright

- Good conduct had been the pattern of living for him all the days of his youth.

- But human goodness without Christ is the worse form of human badness. Why? Because

most “good” folks are self-righteous and are satisfied that they are all right and don't need


- No one can behave himself into the kingdom of God. Salvation is not a work of man for

God; salvation is a work of God for man.

5. His desire for Eternal Life

As good as this young man had been and as hard as he had tried, there was still something lacking in his life and he knew it.

B. His Question 10:17

• The Pharisees asked Jesus this same question (Luke 10:25), but they were testing Him; trying to trip Him up. This young man truly wanted to now what to do to be saved.

• He admitted by his question that he didn't know the answer to life's most important question, how to be saved and go to heaven.


• It is amazing how much spiritual ignorance there is today. We are living in one of the most intellectually advanced ages of all times. We know how to put astronauts on the moon, yet we don't know how to get to heaven.

• There is, however, a little flaw, a problem, in the question which the young man asked. He had the idea that he had to DO something in order to be saved. But salvation is not something we earn; salvation is something God gives us (Romans 6:23). We don't DO something in order to be saved and go to heaven. Salvation is not based on what a person does; salvation is based on what God does...Salvation is a gift, given to us in the Lord Jesus Christ. In order to get eternal life we have to receive Jesus.

• Jesus is the only way of salvation – I John 5:11-12. The word “inherit” means “to become an heir.”

The Master 10:18-21

A. The Master's Inquiry 10:18-20

• “Why do you call Me good?” Instead of answering his question, Jesus asked him a question in return. Why did Jesus do that? Jesus wanted to see if the young man really knew to whom he was talking: “There is no one good but One, that is, God.”

• Jesus was asking, “Do you realize who I am? You can't call Me good unless you call Me God. If you don't call Me God, you can't call Me good.”

• What a person believes about Jesus is at the heart of salvation. If you believe that Jesus Christ is God and if you receive Jesus as God, it will have life-changing effects. You will never again be the same.

Jesus questioned the young man not only about his understanding about who He was, but also about the purpose of the commandment.

• Jesus asked him about the Second Tablet of the Ten Commandments. The first four commandments deals with our relationship to God. Jesus didn't ask him about his relationship to the first four commandment, but He asked him about his relationship to the last six commandments, those relating to our relationship to man.

• His answer: “All these I've observed from my youth up.” He concluded for himself that he was a good man; that he had kept all these from his youth up. I've discovered that when we conclude for ourselves; when we evaluate our self, we see yourself as pretty good...And a lot better than others.

• 10:12a says, “Jesus beholding him” which means that Jesus looked inside him and saw that the young man was being truthful as far as his knowledge of the law went. Outwardly, he had kept the law, but he made only a shallow examination of the law. He looked at the Ten Commandments as a check-list for “Thou shalt not,” but he missed all together the spirit of the law, that Jesus explained on the Sermon on the Mount.

a. “You have hear it said, 'Thou shalt not kill'...but I say to you that whosoever is angry with his

brother is in danger of hell fire.”

b. “You have heard it said, 'Do not commit adultery,' but I say that whosoever looks upon a

woman to lust after her has committed adultery with her already in his heart.”


c. “You have heard it said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy,' but I say to you, love

your enemy.”

It's not just what you don't do, it's what you do that's important.

B. The Master's Invitation 10:21

• When it said that Jesus “beheld him” and “loved him” it also means that Jesus saw what the young man could become if he received Him as his Savior.

• “One thing he lacked” – What was it? He suffered from a divided heart. He wanted to love God, but he also loved his gold – he was rich! He would not give up his love for riches and whole-heartily trust and follow Jesus, and Jesus knew it. That's why Jesus asked him to sell all he had and give it to the poor and follow Him.

• As Jesus listed the six commandments, He said, “Defraud not.” The word “defraud” here means “to advance or enrich yourself while doing wrong or injury to another.” He was guilty of not only the letter but the spirit of the law and Jesus pointed this out to him and wanted him to give this up and follow Him whole-heartily.

• It all boils down to this: You can't have your sins – and heaven too. John Bunyan said, “Wilt thou have thy sins and go to hell or leave thy sins and go to heaven?” It's just that simple.

I don't want you to think that salvation is built upon giving up anything. This was just a test that Jesus presented to this young man to give him a revelation of himself.

• Jesus knew what was keeping this young man from whole-heartily trusting and following Him. It was his love for money.

• Jesus also knows what it is that's keeping you from following Him whole-heartily. What is it? Is it money or some dishonest relationship or some secret sin?

Gypsy Smith tells the story of a great revival in Boston. For three weeks the power of God had fallen on that place. On the last night, during the final invitation people streamed down the aisle. A mother who had been present every night stood there with her four year old son. She knew he was too young to be saved, but she thought it would help the boy remember that his mother had brought him to the meeting if he could only shake hands with Smith.

The mother explained why she had brought her son to shake Smith's hand. Gypsy bend down to honor the mother's request, but the little boy wouldn't shake hands. Gypsy pled, “Shake my hand” but the boy put his hands behind his back and shook his head negatively.

The mother and Gypsy both tried and finally the boy extended his left hand. Gypsy said, “No, the other hand, the right hand.” Finally, the boy brought out the right hand, all doubled up. Gypsy said, “I don't want to fight. Open your hand.” He wouldn't do it, so finally Gypsy opened the little hand by force, and discovered the reason the little boy wouldn't open his hand. He was holding three pee-wee marbles.

I've seen that little boy full grown. Jesus comes with nail-pierced hands and offers salvation, but folks hold on to some passing play thing and will not receive Jesus.

III. The Mistake 10:22


It was decision time for this young man. What would he do? Then comes the fateful answer. The young man stands to his feet, looks at the tender Christ, shakes his head and voices a quiet firm “No.”

• “And he went away.” “And he went away.” “And he went away.” That short sentence contains the tragedy of a soul!

• This young man, holding his destiny in his hands, having the power to say yes or no, turned his back on the wooing, winsome Christ and refused to follow Him.

• When Jesus answered his question, notice how suddenly his interest, eagerness, enthusiasm cools off. Why? He had great possessions.

• One moment he ran courageously to meet Jesus and knelt at His feet...the next he slowly gets up from his knees and walks away, carrying with him his fine gifts and his materialistic heart.

He did not doubt Jesus knew the way to eternal life: he was just not willing to pay the price.

• He made a sudden discovery. He had never imagined that his riches or his trust in riches stood between him and eternal life.

• It's one thing to be disappointed in others; it's another to be disappointed in yourself.

• Someone says, “Maybe he came back later and accepted Christ.” There's no record of it.

It's interesting to me that Jesus didn't go running after him and say, “Wait! I'll compromise with you! I'll bargain with you! I'll require less of you.” Jesus let him go.

Strange: Some folks say Jesus failed, because He did not win this young man. It was not Jesus who failed; it was this young man!