Today’s Scripture: And a certain ruler asked him, saying, Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? none is good, save one, that is, God. Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother. 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. And when he heard this, he was very sorrowful: for he was very rich. LukeĀ 18:18-23

It was late in Jesus’ ministry. He had taught, healed, and done miracles all over Galilee and in Jerusalem. By now, anyone vaguely interested in Him should have been calling Him “Master”, and “Lord”, and “Messiah”. But this man in today’s reading comes to flatter Him, hoping to be flattered with a positive response.

There is an interesting focus point in this passage. The man is rich. He is a ruler (which probably means he is one of the Pharisees). He boasts in verse 21 that he has always kept the Law of Moses and is without blame.

Jesus looked at the smug, self-satisfied man and told him he lacked one thing. The man had everything that could be desired by a first century Israelite. He was of the ruling class; he had money; he obviously had a clear conscience (whether he deserved one or not). He thought he had it all.

What did the man lack? He lacked the most important thing, knowledge of his own sinfulness. He said he had kept the law perfectly. Jesus showed him He had things in his life that were more important than God, showing he had broken the first commandment.

This young ruler needed to know that only Christ could save him, that he couldn’t save himself.

Did you know you can’t save yourself? You may think you have kept all of the commandments like this man thought. You may think you are better than your neighbor. The truth is we are all sinners desperately in need of God’s saving grace.

Thank God for His grace today.

Devotional by Dr. James A. Scudder