In Matthew's account of this, the rich young ruler asks Jesus three questions that many people today, including many believers also ask.
- What good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?
- What commandments from the Law should I keep?
- What do I still lack?
Jesus addresses this man's questions attempting to cause this man to redirect his priorities. Jesus' response to his first question directs him to the one who is truly good, God. Jesus also directs the man's focus from obtaining eternal life to entering into life. This is important to catch because eternal life is not a thing to be obtained, but an intimate relationship with the One who is life.
Jesus answers the rich young rulers second question in a similar manner. Jesus quotes the six of the Ten Commandment that deal with the relationship with man (Note: Jesus uses, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself" and not, "You shall not covet your neighbor's house". If we think about it, loving your neighbor as yourself, the second of the two greatest commandments, would certainly keep one from coveting his house.) Again, by leaving out the four commandments that deal with relationship to God, Jesus is redirecting this man priorities. This man was a Jew and would have known the other four commandments, which cause him to ask Jesus a third question.
The man asks the third question because the Laws that he was keeping were not enough. He knew that he still lack something in his live. Jesus then answers his third question that directly assaults this man's lack. Sell all, give all, then follow me, was Jesus' answer. Jesus has not uncovered this man's lack. His emotional ties to his possession were keeping him from the true riches, a relationship with God.
Whether rich or not this story has significant meaning to every person, especially believers. Anything that competes with a persons relationship with Christ, money, possessions, other people, jobs, etc. will take it toll by creating a feeling of lack. We see that what Jesus required of the rich young man was to much for him to handle and he "Went away sorrowful". What is in your life competing with your relationship with God? How many more times are you going to walk away from the things of God sorrowful, disappointed, frustrated, angry or even blame someone else because things did not turn out the way you wanted them to? See, you do not have to be rich and have great possession to have lack...