The Rich Young Ruler

Matthew 19:16-22

See Also Mark 10:17-22 & Luke 18:18-27


I.    Who was this man?

A.  He was a wealthy person.

1.   Matt. 19:22 states that he had great possessions.  “But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.” 

2.   Luke 18:23 states that this man was very rich.  “And when he heard this, he was very sorrowful: for he was very rich.” 

B.   He was young.

1.   Matt. 19:20 states that he was young.  “The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?” 

2.   It is good for young people to seek to be good, and to obey the commandments of God.

3.   The sad thing about this man is that he started to do good, but failed to completely follow through.

4.   What will you do with your life?

5.   Will you begin a good work, or will you finish a good work?

C.   He was a ruler.

1.   Luke 18:18 states that the young man was a ruler.  “And a certain ruler asked him, saying, Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 

2.   Every ruler must come to see that all his power is nothing if he doesn’t have eternal life.

3.   Many believe their good deeds as a ruler will give them eternal life, but salvation only comes by the shed blood of Jesus Christ.

D.  He was a “good” person.

1.   Matt. 19:20 states that the young man had kept the 10 commandments from his youth up. “The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?” 

a.   It is very important to note here that he actually hadn’t kept all the 10 commandments, because that was impossible to do.

b.   Gal. 3:21,22 - The law is good, but nobody can keep it because we are all under the condemnation of sin.  “Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law. 22 But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.” 

c.   Romans 7:7-12 - The law showed Saul the Pharisee he was a sinner.  Lust translated into not coveting, an internal sin.

2.   The law this rich young ruler said he kept was his version of God’s law.

3.   This verse also states that the young man knew he didn’t have eternal life.

a.   Matt. 19:16 - He asked, “What good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?”

b.   Matt. 19:20 - He still didn’t have eternal life even after he had done all the good things he knew to do: he asked, “…What lack I yet?”

4.   This man has made some effort at understanding God’s commandments, but hasn’t spend enough time to fully understand the law he thinks he is keeping.

5.   This man is accustomed to going to the right source for the right answer.

6.   He is not necessarily going to the person who will give him the answer he wants to hear, but is going to the person who will give him the right answer.

E.   He came running to Christ.

1.   This act could show his enthusiasm for searching for the truth concerning his eternal destiny, or it could show his flying from place to place in search of some new thing.

2.   It is certainly more important to note how a person “leaves” Christ, (saved or lost) than it is to note his coming to Christ.

3.   It must be noted that he went away from Christ very sorrowful.

a.   He came to Christ with his face toward Him.

b.   He went away from Christ with his back toward Him.

F.   He kneeled before Christ.

1.   Phil 2:10 states that every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess that Jesus is the Christ.  Does this young man kneeling before Jesus fulfill this scripture for him?  No.  The young man kneeled outwardly, but inwardly he did not.

2    It makes no difference what we do outwardly (walking down a church aisle, joining a church, teaching a class, preaching the gospel), if our heart is not right with God, all is vain.

3.   It must be noted that this rich young ruler got up off his knees in order to walk away from Christ.


II.   Jesus loved him.

A.  This is “agapao” from which the Greek word “agape” comes.


III. There is no record he was ever saved.

A.  He went away when he heard what Jesus had to say.

B.   Jesus didn’t mean for him to literally sell everything he owned.

1.   Jesus means for this man to not trust in his own good works to enter the kingdom.

C.   Notice: Is it a good work for a person to sell everything they own, and give the proceeds to the poor in order to be saved?

1.   Yes.

2.   The man was more interested in having things so others would look up to him, than he was in getting rid of those things so he could see himself a wicked hell bound deserving to go sinner, and look up to Jesus Christ that he might find eternal life.

3.   This is the whole point Jesus was making.