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Study Resources :: Text Commentaries :: F.E. Marsh :: Readings 401-450 (The Death - Three)

F.E. Marsh :: 429. The Rich Young Ruler

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MARK 10:17-27

LUKE tells us that the rich young ruler only lacked one thing (Luke 18:22), but that was a fatal defect. For a chain to lack one sound link means the danger of that which it upholds.

  1. What the rich young ruler wanted. “Eternal life” (Mark 10:17). Eternal life is the life which is the “life indeed” (1 Tim. 6:19, R.V.). What it means to want this life may be gathered by noting what it is. Eternal life- The one mistake the young ruler made, was that he wanted to earn this life by his doing. “What must I do to enherit eternal life?” is his cry. No man’s doing can give Him the right to this blessing, for eternal life is the gift of God (Rom. 6:23).
  2. What the young ruler had done. According to the ruler’s statement, he had a good record behind him (Mark 10:19-20). But man’s estimate of the worth of his actions, and God’s are two different things. God weighs man’s actions in the scales of the sanctuary, and the verdict of every doing of man is “come short” (Rom. 3:23). If there are none that doeth good (Rom. 3:12), how can any do good in the truest sense of the word? Yea, Christ Himself said to this young man, “There is none good, but One, that is God” (Mark 10:18). See the “Alls,” the “Nones,” the “Not ones” of Romans 3:9-23, as to the universality of human depravity. There are degrees in sinning, but there is no degree in that all are tainted by sin. No difference as to what we are, there is a difference as to what we have done. There may be six crab apple trees in a wood, which are very different as to the apples they bear with regard to the quantity, but there is no difference as to the fact that they are all crab apple trees; so with us, there is no difference as to the fact that all are sinners, but there is a great difference as to the fruit of sin in the lives.
  3. What the young ruler would not do. Christ told the ruler to do five things, which are associated with the five following words:— “Sell,” “give,” “come,” “take,” “follow.” He was to sell what he had, give it to the poor, come to Christ, take up his cross and follow Christ. The ruler did not stand the test, for he went away sorrowful. The one great lesson in the incident is, that if anything is a hindrance to coming to Christ and following Him, it must be given up. It matters not how dear it is; if it is some earthly friend, better to separate from him than be separated from Christ (Luke 14:26), if it be a member of the body that is a stumbling-block, better for it to be cut off (Matt. 5:29-30), than to be cut off from the Lord of Life and Glory.

Thank God, it is easy to be saved, because Christ by His death has removed the hindrance (Heb. 9:26), but it is not an easy thing to live as a Christian (1 Peter 4:18). There is a battle to be fought (1 Tim. 6:12), a trust to be kept (2 Cor. 5:18), a talent to be used (Matt. 25:14, &c.), an enemy to overcome (1 Peter 5:8-9), a watch to maintain (Mark 13:37), a ministry to fulfil (John 13:14), and a prize to win (Phil. 3:14).


The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.


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