Today and tomorrow we learn of two rich men in the Luke narrative; they are however very different men, not simply because of their individual standing and reputation within jewish society, but more importantly because of their very different responses to the claims of Jesus.
The man we encounter today is by all accounts, a very righteous, well respected, wealthy individual who boldly claims that he has kept the commandments of God ‘since I was a boy’ (vs 21) Matthews account of the same event identifies him as a person of youth, so the term ruler in this instance most likely refers to the mans civic ‘leadership rather than official ‘pharisaic’ leadership. Jesus’ response however was to reveal that there was one thing still lacking in the way this man lived his life and he issues three directives to him; sell all you have, give the money to the poor and ‘follow me’ (vs 22). In the context of the actual encounter, these directives are not the final things that the man needs to do in order to inherit eternal life however; rather they are the idolatrous practices that divert the mans attention and devotion, worship and adoration of the one who give eternal life. The ‘one thing’ that is needed by the rich young civic leader is Jesus; surrender to and worship of Jesus. The key question of life has been asked and answered.
Interestingly, those listening on, collectively ask a significant process question, “Who then can be saved?” In this encounter we have two groups of people ask what is effectively the same question and Jesus’ response is the same to both – it all depends on God. To the individual civic ruler, Jesus responds “one thing you lack, … me!” and to the collective question of vs 26, Jesus’ response partially answers now in his reference to nothing being impossible for God, and ultimately answers in the detail of what he shares privately to his disciples in vs 31ff – what seems impossible becomes possible because of the redemptive act of Jesus the messiah on the Cross. What about you, today? Will you let go of your hold on possessions and earthly treasures, and embrace Jesus?