And he said, All these 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 unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me.
The rich young ruler thought he had it made. In his own mind, he had kept all the commandments. In his view, that should have been all that was required. After all, the condition of the law was obedience. But in his pride, he couldn’t see any of the ways he had fallen short of what the law required. In his own mind, he was justified by his works. And maybe he expected Jesus to just give him what he was asking for because he felt like he’d earned it.
But Jesus tells him he is still missing something. It wasn’t another good work that he needed to do. Selling his stuff wasn’t going to buy his way to eternal life, either. It was Jesus that was missing from his life. The one thing that he yet lacked was knowing Jesus and trusting Him and His righteousness. What was missing was that relationship with the Savior, who alone could give him the eternal life he sought. Jesus was really all that he needed, and he was willing to turn around and walk away.
Sometimes we think we can get by just doing what we think is right to do. Sometimes it just makes us feel better to think of ourselves as following all the rules. But if we’re seeking eternal life, there is nothing more that we need to do. It is that we need Jesus more than everything else. “Come, follow me,” is Jesus’ invitation to all who seek Him. He offers us Himself and an opportunity to walk near to Him, to learn of Him, and to serve Him with our lives.
If the young ruler truly had a change of heart from his encounter with Jesus, he would have been more than willing to sell everything he had and to follow Jesus. He would have been willing to do anything to be with Him. He would have wanted to obey, to serve, to do good, to give selflessly. If we have put our faith in Christ, we have gained eternal life. If we choose to follow Him, He’ll enable us to do those hard things we may not have been willing to do before. And if we’re willing to leave everything else behind for His sake, He will lead us to a much fuller and more abundant life than we could have hoped for.