Rich Young Ruler and Ten Commandments

The story of Rich Young Ruler in the New Testament (Luke 18:18-34) has been taught many times in evangelistic meetings. I have previous blogged about what have I learnt from Warwick de Jersey on this passage, and Luke Wong also used the same passage in MBF evangelistic meeting last night, though I wasn't present.

Al Stewart used the same passage in Wednesday's CBF mission talk, and I have actually learnt something new! Well, not new as something I did not know that exists in the Bible, but a new way looking at why has that rich young ruler missed out.

Al looked at the questions asked by Jesus in Luke 18:20 -- about the "commandments".

You know the commandments: 'Do not commit adultery, Do not murder, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother.'

Jesus actually asked the rich young ruler whether he has obeyed commandments 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9. From Exodus 20:12-16,

12Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you. 13You shall not murder. 14You shall not commit adultery. 15You shall not steal. 16You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour.

But Jesus intentionally left out commandments 1-4 and 10, as he knew what the problem that rich young ruler had. Al emphasised that commandment 10 is not an extra add-on which God put in just to make up the numbers. Here are the commandment 1 & 10 in Exodus 20:3 and 20:17.

3You shall have no other gods before me. (commandment #1) 17You shall not covet your neighbour's house; you shall not covet your neighbour's wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbour's. (commandment #10)

Commandment #10 covers greed/covertness, and greed/covertness itself is idolatry, from Colossians 3:5. Basically commandment #10 brings us back to the first and the most important commandment -- no other gods before the LORD -- and that's what the rich young ruler has failed.

Rich young ruler cannot enter the Kingdom of God because he cannot let go his wealth. Not that his wealth is evil -- all blessings are coming from God -- but he and his covertness has certainly worshipped his wealth like an idol, placing it more important than God.

A told me that many used this rich young ruler passage to encourage people into full-time paid ministry (let go everything and follow Jesus is the way to go, etc). Personally I cannot remember any instance myself, but I am not sure whether it is of the right context.