“What must I do to inherit eternal life?”
This was the very question posed to Jesus by a rich young man.
This familiar account can be found in Matthew 19:16-22 (as well as Mark 10:17-22, Luke 18:18-23).
How did Jesus answer the man? He said, “… if you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.” (v.17b)
Some people, especially Muslims, read that and stop right there. They say, “See? Jesus said the way to have eternal life is to obey all the commandments!”
But let’s read on because the conversation did not end there. What was the man’s reply?
And he said, “All these things I have kept from my youth.” (Luke 18:21)
Wow! He claims to have kept all the commandments! Therefore, he must be the perfect candidate for eternal life. Correct?
How did Jesus respond to him? Did Jesus tell him, “You are in prime position for eternal life” or did Jesus tell his followers, “This man is an excellent example of what to do to receive eternal life.”
In fact, here is what Jesus actually said. And when Jesus heard this, He said to him, “One thing you still lack…” (Luke 18:22)
WHAT! How can someone who has kept all the laws and commandments perfectly STILL be LACKING? This obviously means that keeping all the commandments and laws is NOT enough!
The fact is NO ONE can actually keep all the commandments perfectly. Of course Jesus saw right through this man’s empty foolish boast. Jesus did not condemn him. Mark records for us that “…Jesus loved him…” (Mark 18:21).
How does every religion today treat sinners? They are condemned, they are punished. Jesus did neither. Instead He loved him.
What was the “ONE THING” that this young man still lacked? More obedience? More good works? No.
This is the final ONE THING in Jesus’ own words.
“Come, follow ME.”(Matthew 19:21, Mark 10:21, Luke 18:22)
Keeping and obeying all the laws and commandments is good but it cannot gain you eternal life. Doing good works is good but it cannot gain you eternal life. The ONE THING that can gain you eternal life is:
Because He is the one who gives eternal life!
“My sheep listen to My voice; I know them, and they follow Me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish.”John 10:27-28
It is Jesus who gives eternal life. You can keep all the laws and commandments from your youth and still be lacking in receiving eternal life if you do not follow Jesus!
Follow Jesus. Talk to Him right now and tell him sincerely from your heart that you want to follow Him. He will hear your honest plea and He will respond to you. One of Jesus’ first followers wrote this about Jesus:
” And this is the promise that He Himself made to us: eternal life. “1 John 2:25