TO INHERIT ETERNAL LIFE
Key Verse: 18:22
"When Jesus heard this, he said to him, 'You still lack one thing. Sell
everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure
in heaven. Then come, follow me.'"
1. Read verse 18. What can we know about the man who came to Jesus?
(18,20,21) What does his question show about his real problem?
(Mk 8:36, 37) What did he say to Jesus? What did Jesus say to him?
2. Which commandments did Jesus ask him about? Why did he ask him
about the commandments concerning the love of neighbors? What does
his reply show about him? What was the one thing this man lacked?
3. Why did Jesus tell him to sell everything and give to the poor?
What did Jesus want him to know about loving God and loving
neighbors? (Jn 15:13,14) How can we have treasure in heaven? (22;
Mt 13:44-46; Mt 11:29-30; Jn 8:31,32)
4. How did this young man respond to Jesus' invitation? (23-25) Why
must we love Jesus first and be his disciples? Read verses 26-30.
Why did Jesus' disciples respond this way? What promise did Jesus
give? Who is truly rich and who is poor?
Our Lord Jesus said to his disciples, "What good is it for a man to
gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? Or what can a man give in
exchange for his soul?" (Mk 8:36,37) Lord, we agree! We know that our
lives are the most precious to each person. We can exchange our cars or
bicycles. But we cannot exchange our lives. How nice it is to possess
the whole world. But when we die, the whole world would be useless.
Here we must notice that Jesus used the words, "life" and "soul,"
equally. Spiritually speaking, life is soul and soul is life. Our
physical lives came from the dust of the ground, and they go back to
the dust of the ground. But our souls are God's life which he entrusted
to us for one span of life. In today's passage, a ruler comes to Jesus
to ask how to inherit eternal life. This ruler must be a noble man,
because he was already a ruler. But he wanted to inherit eternal life.
Let's hear what Jesus' answer to him was.
First, a certain ruler needed eternal life (18-21).
Look at verse 18. "A certain ruler asked him, 'Good teacher, what
must I do to inherit eternal life?'" He lived in a very hard world.
But, pummeling himself, he studied diligently. Also, from age twelve he
lived a life of discipline. Finally he came up to the position of being
a ruler. As Nicodemus disguised himself and came to Jesus once at
night, so this ruler came to Jesus to ask how to inherit eternal life.
There are many people who want fame and wealth. Yet the ruler's coming
to Jesus tells us that fame and wealth could not satisfy his empty
soul. He came to Jesus and said, "Good teacher, what must I do to
inherit eternal life?"
Look at verse 19. "'Why do you call me good?' Jesus answered. 'No
one is good--except God alone.'" Here Jesus tested him whether he knew
the concept of being good. In past and present, people do not know what
good is. Some people thought that power is good. Some people thought
that courage is good. Some people thought that conquest is good. Among
them, Socrates defined good the best. He said, "Noble moral life is
good." Thus he became the ancestor of philosophy. When we study the
Bible, there is no one good except God. Only God is good. When Jesus
asked, "Why do you call me good?" Jesus wanted to know if he really
believed that only God is good. When we study the Bible prayerfully, we
come to know that only God is good. Psalm 135:3 says, "Praise the Lord,
for the Lord is good" (135:3). Psalm 136:1 says, "Give thanks to the
Lord for he is good" (136:1). "God is good" is really a wonderful
definition of God.
Jesus asks about a more fundamental problem of this ruler. Look at
verse 20. "You know the commandments: 'Do not commit adultery, do not
murder, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father
and mother.'" He answered, "All these I have kept since I was a boy"
(21). His answer, "All these I have kept since I was a boy," shows that
he was a man of illusion, for no one can keep all these commandments.
Jesus did not ask him about the first four commandments concerning the
love of God. But Jesus asked him about the commandments concerning the
love of his neighbors only. Since he did not keep the law of God from
his heart, he could not experience eternal life in his soul. Out of his
desperation, he could not but come to Jesus to ask how to inherit
Second, you still lack one thing (22).
Look at verse 22. "When Jesus heard this, he said to him, 'You still
lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you
will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.'" In this verse, we
learn that this ruler did everything to fulfill his selfish ambition.
And superficially he obeyed the law of God, but his inner heart was
selfish; he did not know about the love of his neighbor. So Jesus said,
"You still lack one thing." When Jesus said, "Sell everything and give
to the poor," it does not necessarily mean, in order to inherit eternal
life he has to become a person as poor as a crow. It meant that he must
have the law of God with which he can love his neighbor. John 15:13,14
says, "Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for
his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command." This ruler
studied the law of God. But he could not catch the spirit of the law of
God. So he could not learn that he must love God, and next he must love
As the ruler had tried hard to obtain his social position and money,
he must have tried hard to pass the tests to become a ruler. But when
the ruler studied the law of God, he did not master the spirit of the
law of God. When he lived in the world as a selfish man, he did not
have treasure in heaven. When Jesus commands us, "Love your neighbor,"
it means, by doing so, we may have treasure in heaven. We, the
children of God, are treasure hunters. Matthew 13:44-46 says, "The
kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found
it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and
bought that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant
looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away
and sold everything he had and bought it." Here, "treasure" refers to
eternal life. Those who have the assurance of having eternal life are
peaceful and joyful and generous and altruistic. They grow in the image
of God. Those who have eternal life are those who think that this
world is not permanent but very temporal, while eternal life is
Howard Hughes (1905-1976) managed his father's inheritance well.
When he was 17, he took over his father's business. When he was between
30 and 50 years old, he developed his movie business and aviation
business very successfully and became one of the richest men in the
world. But suddenly, from the age of 50, he began to worry about his
death by all kinds of bacteria attack. From that time on, he began to
live a life of seclusion. He didn't cut his hair. He didn't cut his
fingernails or toenails. He was afraid of eating anything because of
His problem was that he did not know that God supplies every
necessary medicine in our body to prevent harmful bacteria so that our
physical bodies are maintained. When Hughes became one of the richest
men in the world, the devil came in through his bacteria phobia. He had
such big money, but he could not eat, because his fear of death
overpowered him. As a result, he died of malnutrition. It's irony that
a rich man died of malnutrition. His problem was not bacteria phobia.
His real problem was that he had no treasure in heaven, eternal life.
On the other hand, those who have eternal life in their souls can trust
and obey the word of God and live very joyfully.
There is a man who gave his heart to God when he was 18 years old.
Under Japanese occupation, he could not do much. He took care of
several orphans. One of them was suffering from T.B. Reverend Han
contracted T.B. from her. Finally, his left lung had to be removed. In
addition, he received much persecution from family members. But he took
care of the orphans for 13 years. His life of following Jesus had been
very difficult, because with one lung he had to deliver messages for 40
years, three times every Sunday. The world Christian leaders decided to
give the Templeton Award to Mother Theresa, Billy Graham and Reverend
Here we learn that we must have treasure in heaven. We must have
eternal life. In the last part of verse 22, Jesus said, "Then come,
follow me." Even if we have treasure in heaven, we must know why we
must follow Jesus at the last part of the 20th century. In the course
of doing the work of God, we become weary and burdened and feel no
rest. But there is true rest in Jesus. Matthew 11:29,30 says, "Take my
yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart,
and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my
burden is light." Here, those who have treasure in heaven must take his
yoke upon them and follow Jesus. Then they will find rest in their
souls. There is true rest only in Jesus. Physical rest is not true
rest. God gives us true rest in our souls.
Third, the ruler went away sad (23-27)
Look at verse 23. "When he heard this, he became very sad, because
he was a man of great wealth." Truth is very expensive. Falsity is
cheating and being cheated (2Ti 3:13). When Jesus uncovered this man's
falsity, he had to be wise enough to make a decision of faith, being
worthy to have eternal life. But he gave in to money and abandoned the
truth. Jesus looked at him and said, "How hard it is for the rich to
enter the kingdom of God!" (24) Jesus grieved over him. Fallen man's
mentality is to grab something and try to live forever in this world.
Modern time is the money-oriented time. The general social consensus
is that there is no principle. There is no national direction. There is
no humble prayer to God. They want money. They want money in the
morning, and even in their dream. They know that they must have
eternal life. But they are sad when they have to overcome their
greediness and follow Jesus. Jesus understood this man very well and
said in verse 25, "Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the
eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." This
is the story to the ruler. This is also the story to all of us. We know
that we must have treasure in heaven. We know that we have eternal life
through Jesus Christ. But most people do not have the power to make a
decision to follow Jesus. Many people attend churches quite regularly,
thinking that if they go to church, they have eternal life. But they
can have eternal life only when they follow Jesus. In other words, we
must be Jesus' disciples. When Jesus called Matthew as one of his
disciples, he said, "Follow me." Following Jesus is to become the
disciple of Jesus. In this part, Jesus clearly tells the rich ruler
that he must have treasure in heaven and he must have eternal life. In
order to have eternal life, he must love Jesus more than the world. In
order to follow Jesus, he must throw away common sense and keep even
one word of God in his heart.
Look at verse 26. "Those who heard this asked, 'Who then can be
saved?'" This verse implies that the disciples also had a strong
attachment to this world like the rich ruler. But Jesus replied, "What
is impossible with men is possible with God." When we see the people of
the world, we wonder, "Who can follow Jesus in this wicked generation?"
But there are many who love to follow Jesus at the cost of their
Fourth, they will receive eternal life (28-30).
But God has his purpose of world salvation throughout history and
surely God wants to save all of them through his servants, missing no
one. To God, salvation work is possible.
Peter said to him, "We have left all we had to follow you!" (28) We
cannot deny that Peter lost a lot. But Jesus did not say, "You don't
have to lose anymore." Instead, he said in verses 29-30, "'I tell you
the truth,' Jesus said to them, 'no one who has left home or wife or
brothers or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God will
fail to receive many times as much in this age and, in the age to come,
eternal life.'" John 3:16 says, "For God so loved the world that he
gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not
perish but have eternal life." When we read this verse carefully, in
order to give us eternal life, God gave his one and only Son Jesus
Christ. Therefore, we need clear commitment to follow Jesus. Here Jesus
urges us to make a decision of faith. We know that there is the moon,
and there is the sun. And there are Alpha and Omega. Things of the
world constantly change. No one can expect to keep his family as it is
and live in this world forever. But the world is pressing on toward the
glorious day. We must make the decision of faith and pile up treasure
Truly rich people are those who have eternal life. Truly rich people
are those who have treasure in heaven. Truly joyful people are those
who have eternal life. The rich ruler had fame and wealth. But he felt
he was empty. He could not boldly decide to follow Jesus because of his
selfishness. He was a rich man. But he was indeed a poor man, as poor
as a crow.
Today we studied how to inherit life. We learned many beautiful
lessons. Our lives are not our own, but God gave us the privilege to
enjoy God's life in us. As we know, there are two kinds of life. One is
physical life. Physical life came from the dust of the ground and goes
back to the dust of the ground. God's life in us is eternal life.
Therefore, we must have eternal life. May God help us open our
spiritual eyes and begin to have treasure in heaven. May God help us so
that we have eternal life in Jesus Christ.