It Might Not Even Be What You Think: Realizing There Is Something Lacking In Your Life

Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament gospel account of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ as written and recorded by the beloved physician Luke. More specifically, today’s passage is found in verses eighteen through thirty-four of the eighteenth chapter. When you come to this particular portion of scripture you will find it including and mentioning an even within the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ which was recorded by the apostle Matthew, as well as perhaps John Mark. As you approach this particular portion of the gospel of Jesus the Christ according to the beloved physician Luke you will him writing and recounting the experience between the rich young ruler and the Lord Jesus Christ. If you begin reading with and from the eighteenth verse of this eighteenth chapter you will find this rich young ruler making his way to and coming unto Jesus, and doing so with one specific question. The account of the rich young Tyler begins and opens up with this man who had great wealth and great possessions coming unto Jesus in order that he might ask Him one very simple, yet one very profound and powerful question. When the rich young ruler finally made his way into the Lord Jesus Christ he asked him one question which I am convinced has been a question which has been asked within and throughout the centuries since then. This rich young ruler—despite his great wealth and many possessions—sought to make his way unto Jesus so as to ask him what he must needs for in order that he might inheritance and lay hold of eternal life. I have to admit that this is actually quite interesting and unique when you think about it, for its almost as if in the midst of and despite the many possessions and wealth this rich young ruler has there was something missing within his life. The more I sit here and read this passage of scripture the more I can’t help but wonder within my heart and mind what it was that brought this rich young ruler to the point and place within his life where he felt he either needs or wanted eternal life. Was there something that happened in the midst of this man’s life that caused him to come to the conclusion that he needed and wanted eternal life? Was there a specific event which took place within the life of this rich young ruler that caused him to feel that he needed to make his way unto Jesus in order that he might ask him what he needed to do to inherit eternal life? There seems to be no indication within and from scripture that this man came unto Jesus as certain of the Pharisees, or certain of the Sadducees, or even as the lawyers and teachers of the law did in order that they might test Jesus with their questions.

As I sit here and read the words which are found within this passage of scripture I can’t help but get the strong sense that this rich young ruler has great wealth and many possessions, and yet perhaps he felt within his heart and soul that something was missing. Have you ever found yourself in this point and place within your life? Have you ever found yourself in the place where although your life might be exactly where and exactly what you want it to be, there is something that is missing from within it? Have you ever found yourself in the place within your life where you knew within your heart and soul that there was something missing and you just couldn’t put your finger on or place it? I can’t help but wonder at what point within this man’s life he recognized and realized that that which was missing within his life was eternal life? Did this rich man who had great wealth and many possessions recognize that the riches and wealth he had amassed for himself did not and could not provide him with the fulfillment he so desperately desired? I read the account of the rich young ruler and how he came unto Jesus the Christ asking what thing he must needs for in order that he might inherit eternal life, and I can’t help but believe within my heart and soul that despite his vast wealth and many possessions, he felt and found that there was something missing from his life. Perhaps this rich young Tyler was laying in his bed thinking about his great wealth and many possessions and recognized that although he had great wealth, and although he had great possessions, he lacked genuine relationships within his life. Perhaps this rich young ruler came to the point and place within his life when he realized that all the riches, all the wealth, and all hen possessions he had amassed for himself did not and could not provide for him that which he truly desired for and within his life. This man had spent a considerable amount of time within his life desiring wealth and possessions, and he had succeeded in doing so, however, we find this man making his way unto Jesus in order that he might ask about eternal life and laying hold of it. We dare not miss this absolutely incredible point, for to do so would be to miss the great significance of what is taking place within this passage of scripture and during this encounter between the rich young ruler and Jesus the Christ.

The account of the rich young ruler is one that is actually quite remarkable and astounding, for within it we come face to face with the reality that great wealth and many possessions don’t always bring us the satisfaction and fulfillment we have desired within our lives. This particular event within the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ brings us before the awesome reality that despite man’s great attempt for wealth and possessions, man was not created for wealth, nor was man rested for possessions. Please note and please understand that this does not mean that it is not possible for men and women who walk with and follow Jesus Christ, and who serve the living God to amass wealth and accumulate possessions. If you journey back to the Old Testament book of genesis you will one the account of Abraham and how Abraham had amassed great wealth and great possessions during his time in Haran, and even while journeying in the land of Canaan. What’s more, is that if you journey to the Old Testament book of Job you will find this man also had great wealth and great possessions, which was one of the first things the enemy sought to attack and destroy from within his life. What’s more, is that you will also find and discover that even Isaac and Jacob had amassed great wealth and many possessions through being the heirs of Abraham and the promise they was given unto and made to him by the living God. It is possible to serve the living God and to amass and accumulate great wealth and possessions, for we see through the lives of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and even. Job that it is possible to serve the Lord, and to serve the Lord faithfully, and to accumulate wealth and possessions according to the goodness and grace of the living God. What we find when we come to the account of the rich young ruler, however, is one who had accumulated great wealth and great possessions, and yet who at some point within his life found himself coming unto Jesus and coming into his presence in order that he might ask what he must needs do in order that he might inherit eternal life. Please don’t miss and lose sight of this incredibly awesome and tremendous reality, for within the account of the rich young ruler we come face to face with the awesome fact that despite his great wealth and his great possessions, he still found himself searching for and desiring something more—something far beyond the wealth and possessions he had amassed for himself. Despite the great wealth and many possessions this rich young ruler had within his life, he still found himself searching for and desiring something that was far beyond and far greater than that which he presently had. In all reality, I would dare say that the great wealth and many possessions which the rich young ruler had within his life didn’t satisfy and fulfill him the way he had hoped, and perhaps even desired within himself.

I sit here this morning thinking about and considering the concept of this rich young ruler and the great wealth and many possessions he had, and I can’t help but come face to face with the awesome and tremendous reality that despite all that he had amassed and accumulated within and for himself, there was still something missing within his life. Perhaps this rich young ruler found that he was not as satisfied, nor as fulfilled, nor as content within his life as he had previously hoped and desired. Perhaps this rich young ruler had spent his entire life thinking that if he but accumulated great wealth and great possessions he would find that which he was searching for within and throughout his life. Perhaps this rich young ruler grew up and found himself always wanting to be rich, and always wanting to have great wealth and great possessions, and yet once he finally laid hold of and obtained all that he sought after and worked for, he found himself living in a place of emptiness, void and lack. Would it shock and surprise you to discover that it is possible for men and women who have great wealth and great possessions to find themselves in a position and place where they feel completely alone and without anyone to share their wealth and possessions with? I have heard story after story of men and women of great stature, status and wealth, and such men and women have found themselves in the place where although they have amassed great wealth and great possessions within their lives, they find themselves staring down the reality that they don’t have anyone to share their wealth and possessions with. Such men and women find themselves still feeling as though there is something missing within their hearts and lives, and in all reality this lack, this need, this want, this something that is missing from within their hearts and lives is actually pointed out and mentioned by the Lord Jesus Christ within this passage of Scripture. While the account of the rich young ruler is found in other gospel accounts of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ, it is within this particular gospel account that we come face to face with the tremendous reality that despite the great wealth and many possessions this rich younger ruler had, there was still something missing and still something he was lacking. Was he aware that what he was missing was eternal life, and this is what drove him straight into the presence of Jesus the Christ? Was this rich young ruler aware of the fact that that which was missing from his life was eternal life, or was it something he had heard about from others, or perhaps even from listening to the words of Jesus the Christ? It isn’t clear whether or not this rich young ruler realized and recognized that eternal life was that which was missing from and within his life, however, we know for certain that when he came into the presence of Jesus he came in asking about eternal life, and what he must needs do in order to lay hold of it.

I am convinced that if we are going to truly understand that which is written and that which is found within this passage of Scripture, and that which was written concerning the rich young ruler, it is absolutely necessary and imperative that we look at and examine it from the different gospel accounts which describe this particular man and his entrance into the presence of Jesus the Christ. With that being said, however, we will not be beginning with the New Testament gospel of Matthew, but will instead be beginning with the New Testament gospel of Matthew, and the words which the apostle Matthew wrote concerning this rich young ruler. We will then journey into the New Testament gospel of Mark before finally coming back to the New Testament gospel of Luke and come face to face with the tremendous reality of what Jesus was actually seeking to convey and speak to this rich young ruler. Consider if you will the account of this rich young ruler in the presence of Jesus—first as written and recorded within the New Testament gospel of Matthew, and then within the New Testament gospel of Mark before returning to what is before us within the New Testament gospel of Luke:

“And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? There is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: What lack I yet? Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions. Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved? But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:16-26).

“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 things 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. And Jesus looked round about, and saith unto his disciples, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God! And the disciples were astonished at His words. But Jesus answereth again, and saith unto them, Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. And they were astonished out of measure, saying among themselves, Who then can be saved? And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible” (Mark 10:17-27).

Now each of these passages present us with the encounter this rich young ruler had with Jesus the Christ after making his way unto him in order that he might ask him a very simple and singular question. Both the apostle Matthew, as well as John Mark write and record how this rich young ruler came into the presence of Jesus, and came unto Him in order that he might ask and inquire of him what he needed to do to inherit eternal life. Please don’t miss this, for not only did this rich young ruler recognize that eternal life was something to be had, and even desired, but this rich young ruler also recognized and understood that eternal life was something that needed to be laid hold of. This rich young ruler recognized and realized that in order to inherit eternal life, there was something which he needed to do—something he perhaps had not done yet, and something he still needed to do. Undoubtedly this rich young ruler was aware of the reality of eternal life, and knew that in order for him to inherit and lay hold of eternal life, there was something he needed to do. With that being said, however, we must recognize and come face to face with the fact that when this rich young ruler entered into the presence of Jesus the Christ, he did so immediately making it about works, for he immediately asked what good he needed to do in order that he might inherit eternal life. Right away when entering into the presence of Jesus the Christ this rich young ruler made eternal life about what he needed to do, and what he could do, thus making it all about works. Perhaps this rich young ruler had spent his entire life living with the understanding that in order to lay hold of something he desired and wanted, it would require great works and great effort on his part. Perhaps this rich young ruler had spent his entire life living with the understanding that in order for him to lay hold of great wealth, and to amass great possessions, he needed to commit himself to a tremendous amount of work, effort, and perhaps even struggle. Undoubtedly this rich young ruler carried this mindset and mentality over into the realm of the spiritual and supernatural, for when entering into the presence of Jesus, this rich young ruler asked what he must needs do in order that he might inherit eternal life. There is not a doubt in my mind that this rich young ruler viewed eternal life through the same lens as the great wealth and possessions he had amassed within his life and for himself, and that in order to lay hold of eternal life there was something he must needs do. Undoubtedly this rich young ruler viewed laying hold of and obtaining eternal life through the lens of works, through the lens of effort, and through the lens of struggle. It is absolutely necessary and imperative that we recognize and understand this, for it brings us face to face with the awesome and incredible reality that more often than not we view spiritual realities through earthly lenses and through earthly means, thus minimizing and making them of none affect within our hearts and lives. This rich young ruler entered into the presence of Jesus desiring that he might lay hold of and inherit eternal life, and he viewed inheriting eternal life through the lens of what he could do in and of himself as directly set against that which the Father would and could provide—namely, grace and mercy.

In order for us to continue within this writing, I am convinced that it is necessary that we come face to face with the words which are written and recorded within the New Testament gospel of Luke, for it’s within this New Testament gospel account that we find mentioned the same reality and words which are found in the New Testament gospel of Mark. Consider if you will the words which are found within this passage of Scripture beginning with the eighteenth verse of the eighteenth chapter:

“And a certain ruler asked Him, saying, Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? None is good, save one, that is God. Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honour thy father and mother. And he said, All these things have I kept from my youth up. Now when Jesus heard these things, he said unto him, Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me. And when he heard this, he was very sorrowful: for he was very rich. And when Jesus saw that he was very sorrowful, he said, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God! For it is easier for a camel to go through a needle’s eye, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. And they that heard it said, Who then can be saved? And he said, The things which are impossible with men are possible with God” (Luke 18:18-27).

As I sit here this morning and think about and consider the words which are found within this passage of Scripture concerning this rich young ruler, I can’t help but come face to face with the reality that this rich young ruler undoubtedly found himself in a place where although he had amassed great wealth, and although he had amassed great possessions, there was still something missing within his life. There is not a doubt in my mind that this rich young ruler had perhaps striven within and throughout his life to accumulate much wealth and many possessions thinking and believing that the more he accumulated, and the more he amassed, the more he would find fulfillment and satisfaction in his life. The truth of the matter, is that this rich young ruler round himself with great wealth and great possessions, and yet even though he had great wealth and great possessions, he still found there was something missing and something lacking within his life. This rich young ruler found himself coming face to face with the reality that although he had amassed great wealth and many possessions, there was still something missing, and still something lacking within his heart and life. It was true that he had devoted a great deal of time, effort, labor, struggle and work in order to amass the wealth and possessions he had within his life, however, even though he had found himself perhaps having everything he had ever wanted, and even though he might have had everything his heart desired, there was still something missing. RICH, YET LACKING! WEALTHY, YET LACKING! GREAT, YET LACKING! STATUS, YET LACKING! I sit here this morning thinking about and considering the account of the rich young ruler, and I can’t help but encounter the awesome and tremendous fact that although this man had amassed great wealth and many possessions, there was still something that was lacking, and there was still something that was missing within his life. From an earthly and natural viewpoint this man might have had everything he ever wanted and desired, and when others looked at him they believed he had arrived, and had achieved everything he had every desired and wanted. The truth of the matter, however, is that despite this rich young ruler having great wealth and great possessions, he recognized and realized that there was something missing within his life. Undoubtedly this rich young ruler thought and believed he could have great wealth and many possessions, and still be able to lay hold of eternal life. Undoubtedly he thought and believed within his heart and mind that he could have great wealth and many possessions, and could also have eternal life. It’s interesting and worth noting that when Jesus spoke unto this rich young ruler he seemed to clearly indicate the reality that if we wanted to have and if he wanted to lay hold of eternal life, he would have to get rid of and remove his wealth and possessions. Upon entering into the presence of Jesus, this rich young ruler encountered the reality that even though he wanted eternal life, and even though he sought to lay hold of eternal life, he would need to let go of something within his life—something that meant a great deal to him.

I have to admit that I absolutely love the language that is found within these three gospel accounts of this certain ruler, and this young men who entered into the presence of Jesus the Christ, for the apostle Matthew presents it to us a certain way, while John Mark and Luke present it to us a completely different way. While all three present us with the same encounter between the rich young ruler and Jesus, the apostle Matthew presents it as the rich young ruler asking Jesus what one thing he still lacked knowing he had kept the commandments Jesus had presented before him from his youth up. Jesus presented him with the commandments “Do not commit adultery,” “Do not kill,” “Do not steal,” “Do not bear false witness,” “Honour thy father and mother,” and even “Love your neighbor as yourself,” and upon hearing these words this rich young ruler proceeded to ask Jesus what one thing he still lacked. This is quite interesting and unique when you think about and consider it, for in the New Testament gospel of Matthew you will find this rich young ruler asking Jesus what he still lacked, while in the gospels of Mark and Luke we find Jesus declaring and speaking unto this rich young ruler concerning that one thing he still lacked. In all reality, I am convinced that the question which was presented unto Jesus—What lack I still?—and the words which Jesus spoke unto this ruler—Yet lackest thou one thing—are intrinsically connected and linked together. On the one hand we find the rich young ruler asking Jesus what he still lacked after hearing the commandments which were spoken unto him, however, on the other hand we find Jesus declaring unto this man that there was still something which he lacked in his life. What’s so incredibly interesting about this particular encounter is the fact that this rich young ruler heard the commandments which Jesus had spoken unto him, and yet still felt as though there was something missing within his life. There is not a doubt in my mind that even though this rich man heard the words which Jesus the Christ had spoken unto him, he still felt and believed that there was something which was missing within his life—something that he couldn’t quite put his finger on. This rich young ruler knew he had kept the commandments which Jesus had spoken unto him from his youth up, and yet he still knew within his heart that there was something he was missing—something he wasn’t getting, which might very well be the key to unlocking the mystery of eternal life within his own heart and life. This is quite remarkable and astounding when you think about and consider it, for even though this rich young ruler heard the commandments spoken but Jesus, and even thou this rich young ruler knew he had kept those commandments from his youth up, he still felt there was something lacking within his life.

I have to admit that I love the dichotomy and yet interconnectedness that is found between this man’s question concerning what he still lacked, and Jesus’ words unto him concerning his still lacking one thing, for it wonderfully and powerfully demonstrates the tremendous reality that despite the fact this rich young ruler had great wealth and many possessions, there was still something lacking, and still something missing within his life. What’s more, is that not only was Jesus aware of this reality, but so also was the rich man aware of this reality. It must have surprised the rich young ruler to hear Jesus deliver the commandments written in the law unto him, for with those words the rich man now had a lens through which to view eternal life—namely, through his great wealth and his keeping the commandments mentioned by Jesus from his youth up. The problem with this lens was that although this man had kept these commandments from his youth up, and although this rich man had amassed great wealth and many possessions, he still knew there was something lacking. It’s almost as if this rich young ruler felt that if he had essentially “arrived” by having great wealth and many possessions, and if he had kept the commandments written in the law from his youth up, and yet he still did not have eternal life, there was something missing within his life. RICH AND OBEDIENT, YET STILL LACKING! What we find within this passage of Scripture is not only this rich young ruler having great wealth and many possessions, but we also find him apparently obedient before a holy God according to that which was written in the law. The trouble and problem with this, however, was that despite this rich man having great wealth and possessions, and despite his keeping the commandments Jesus mentioned to him from his youth up, there was still something lacking, and there was still something that was missing within his heart and life. It’s worth noting that not only did the rich young ruler recognize that there was still something lacking within his life, but Jesus also recognized it as well, and proceeded to point it out to this man. Essentially both this rich young man and Jesus understood that there was something still missing and something lacking within this man’s life, and this rich man just couldn’t place his finger or hand on it. In fact, I can’t help but wonder if this rich man was surprised to learn and understand that there was still something he was lacking after hearing that he had kept the commandments spoken and listed by Jesus from his youth up. It’s quite remarkable to think about and consider the fact that this rich young ruler had enough sense and enough wherewithal to recognize and understand that there was still something lacking and something missing within his life, yet he couldn’t put his finger on it.

When I read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture, as well as that which is found in the New Testament gospels of Mark and the apostle Matthew, I can’t help but see two different realities concerning this rich young ruler. On the one hand this rich young ruler recognized there was something missing from within his life prior to coming into the presence of Jesus, for you don’t come into the presence of Jesus asking what you need to do to inherit eternal life if you don’t realize and if you haven’t recognized that there wasn’t and isn’t something missing from within your life. There is not a doubt within my mind that this rich young ruler recognized and understood before entering into the presence of Jesus that what was missing from within his life was eternal life—something he had perhaps heard about from the stories and testimonies of others, or perhaps even from hearing Jesus Himself teach and speak before the crowds and masses. What’s more, is that while this rich young ruler recognized that there was something missing and lacking within his life prior to entering into the presence of Jesus, he was confronted with yet another reality once entering into the presence of Jesus—namely, that there was still something that was missing and something he was lacking within his life. This man entered into the presence of Jesus knowing that there was something missing from within his life, and once he entered into the presence of Jesus he realized even more how there was something that was still lacking within his life. Scripture is unclear what this man expected when entering into the presence of Jesus inquiring about eternal life, and when he first asked the question of Jesus, he didn’t really get an answer. When he entered into the presence of Jesus, he simply heard Jesus recite the commandments which were written in the law of Moses to him. This is actually quite unique and powerful, for by quoting the law to this man, it’s almost as if it opened this man’s eyes to the reality that even though he had kept these commandments from his youth up, he still hadn’t laid hold of eternal life. This rich young ruler realized that he had kept the commandments spoken to him by Jesus from his youth up, and yet there was still something missing from within his life—something he still lacked and needed to lay hold of. Oh how surprised this rich young ruler must have been shocked when he came to realize that it was not so much about what he did or had done per se, but rather what he needed to let go of. It wasn’t so much about his own merit and works, but rather about what he was willing to release and let go of within his life that would allow him to obtain and lay hold of eternal life. When we read the words which are contained within this passage of Scripture it’s absolutely necessary and imperative that we recognize and understand that for this rich man to lay hold of and inherit eternal life, it was not so much in the works he could perform before and in the sight of the living God, but in what he was willing to let go, for it’s not in what we can do as much as it is what we can and are willing to let go. Much to the surprise and shock of this rich man he came to understand that in order for him to lay hold of eternal life, he not only needed to let go of his possessions and sell all he had, but there was also the element of distributing to the poor, following Jesus, and taking up his cross.

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