The Gospel of Luke:a commentary & meditation

"Sell all you have and you will have treasure in heaven"

Scripture: Luke 18:18-30

18 And a ruler asked him, "Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?" 19 And Jesus said to him, "Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. 20 You know the commandments: `Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother.'" 21 And he said, "All these I have observed from my youth." 22 And when Jesus heard it, he said to him, "One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me."  23 But when he heard this he became sad, for he was very rich. 24 Jesus looking at him said, "How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God! 25 For 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." 26 Those who heard it said, "Then who can be saved?" 27 But he said, "What is impossible with men is possible with God." 28 And Peter said, "Lo, we have left our homes and followed you." 29 And he said to them, "Truly, I say to you, there is no man who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the  kingdom of God, 30 who will not receive manifold more in this time, and in the age to come eternal life."

Meditation: What gives hope and satisfaction to our desire for happiness and security?  A person of position and means who had the best the world could offer -- wealth and security -- came to Jesus because he lacked one thing. (Who was this ruler?  He was likely a Pharisee, a religious leader. Matthew's gospel says he was young (19:20.)  This person wanted the kind of lasting peace and happiness which money could not buy him.  The answer he got, however, was not what he was looking for.  He protested that he kept all the commandments; but Jesus spoke to the trouble in his heart.  One thing kept him from giving himself whole-heartedly to God.  While he lacked nothing in material goods, he was nonetheless possessive of what he had.  He placed his hope and security in what he possessed.  So when Jesus challenged him to make God his one true possession and treasure, he became dismayed.

Why did the rich ruler go away from Jesus with sadness rather than with joy?  His treasure and his hope for happiness were misplaced. Treasure has a special connection to the heart, the place of desire and longing, the place of will and focus. The thing we most set our heart on is our highest treasure. The Lord himself is the greatest treasure we can have. Giving up everything else to have the Lord as our treasure is not sorrowful, but the greatest joy. See Jesus' parable about the treasure hidden in a field (Matthew 13:44). Selling all that we have could mean many different things--our friends, our job, our "style" of life, what we do with our free time. Jesus challenged the young man because his heart was possessive. He was afraid to give to others for fear that he would lose what he had gained. Those who are generous towards God and others find that they cannot outgive God in generosity. God blesses us with spiritual goods that far outweigh the fleeting joys of material goods. He alone can satisfy the deepest longing and desires of our heart. Are you willing to part with anything that might keep you from seeking true joy with Jesus?

"Lord, you alone can satisfy the deepest longing in my heart.  No other treasure can compare with you. Keep me free from being possessive or discontented and give me joy in having you alone as my Treasure and my Portion."

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 (c) 1999, 2000 Don Schwager