RYR: Rich Young Ruler
WHAT IF YOU:
- Followed Jesus long enough to believe that Jesus could authoritatively answer one of the most important questions anybody could have.
- Were of such a character that you could honestly say to Jesus in a face to face conversation that you had followed God's laws from your youth.
- Actually said as much to Jesus' face and he didn't chastise you for stating a falsehood.
- Were looked upon with love by Jesus.
- Were offered a seat at Jesus side, with Jesus using the same exact words that he used in his offers to several of his apostles.
- Found that you had to decline the offer because you would have actually been doing the dishonorable thing by accepting.
- Walked away from Jesus, so grieved that you couldn't say another word.
- Were used from that time forward as an example of dishonorable, soul destroying love of wealth.
You would probably want a book like this written about you!
If you are not a Christian, there is a chance that you have heard the story of the Rich Young Ruler and what a selfish guy he was, simply because it is an intriguing story. He is usually treated like a puppet who is popped out of a box, used as an example of what not to be, and popped back into the box—end of story. If you have been a Christian (for more than about ten minutes), then you almost certainly have heard a sermon of similar ilk.
However, consider the following:
1. He was the only person in the Bible to ask Jesus such a direct question as he asked.
2. When told by Jesus that he would have to keep the commandments—specifically not murder, fornicate, steal, lie, defraud, as well as honor his father and mother—he stated that he had “kept all these things from my youth” (Matthew 19:18–20, Mark 10:19–20, and Luke 18:20–21). Not many people would have the temerity to make that claim right there in front of Jesus, a.k.a. God on Earth!
3. And Jesus didn't chastise him for being dishonest—quite the opposite. “And looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him” (Mark 10:21). Nobody, and I mean absolutely nobody, ever had that specifically said about them before that or after that. Yes, Jesus loved the world (generically), he loved his old friend Lazarus (specifically), but absolutely nobody simply walked up as a stranger to Jesus and experience the direct love of God on Earth in a face-to-face encounter. NOBODY. This gives him a biblical stature unique in the Gospel.
4. And, before it was all over, the words Jesus used, the exact words, “Come, follow Me,” were the same used when Jesus asked several other apostles to follow him. THE EXACT SAME WORDS. So, had an invitation been extended to the RYR to become another apostle? Seems so. And he was the only one given that offer to ever turn it down.
5. It stands to reason that no one has such an encounter with Jesus and walks away unchanged, so RYR walked away “grieved,” without saying another word. It also seems reasonable that this grief was soul deep. Life-changing deep. Now, there had to be some powerful motivation for RYR to walk away. Was it just love of money/property/possessions, or could there have been more to it than that? What could that have been?
When you consider all the above, you can see that this episode/encounter is much more complicated than that presented on the surface. Young Ruler had a life before, during, and after his encounter with Jesus and was apparently a stellar individual of rare integrity, given his reception by Jesus. To risk rejecting Jesus's offer for the sake of only property seems much too shallow for this man. This book, though partially fiction, offers a deeper examination into the life, mind, and possible motives surrounding this story. Personally, I think, when listening to a sermon denigrating the man, I think the man is being framed.
One thing is for sure: once you read this book, you will never read the biblical account, or think of the Rich Young Ruler, in the same way again.