A Young Man Whom Jesus Loved
Address delivered at The Moody Church by A.T. Robertson, D.D.
“And when he was gone forth into the way there came one running, and kneeled to him, and asked, Good Master, What shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?
“Then Jesus beholding him, loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest; go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross and follow me.
“And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved; for he had great possessions.”—Mark 10:17, 21, 22
This is the story of the young man who is usually called the rich young ruler. Jesus looked upon him and fell in love with him and said, One thing you lack. Go, sell whatever you have and give to the poor and you will have treasure in Heaven, and then come and follow after me.
A young man that Jesus loved. Jesus loved all young men and young women too, and He loved the older men and women, the boys and girls. He loves us when we love Him and He loved us before we loved him. That is the wonder of God’s love, that while we are yet sinners he loved us.
We are told here expressly that Jesus fell in love with this young man. It was a case of love at first sight. When He looked at that young man He fell in love with him. There must have been something attractive about that young man to call forth the instantaneous love of Jesus.
He was a young man of high station in life. We are told he was rich. He was a ruler. He had money. He had office and he had high standing. He had about all that a young man needed to make him the best catch in town. A model young man. It is not sinful to have money. It is not sinful to have an office. A man may live the Christian life even if he is an alderman in Chicago. This young man had an office; he had high standing. Those things are not sinful in themselves but they bring responsibility.
Not long ago I read an editorial in a paper which is not a religious magazine, and it stated that society was jazz crazy and hell bent. Such is the trend of society today.
This young man was a young man with a problem. Every young man is a problem for somebody. To his father or mother, or very often to both. Whatever camouflage he might have on the outside, any serious minded young man has some difficulty with himself. This young man was troubled because he did not have eternal life, and he was concerned about it. Young men today may have wealth, position, and an abundance of material things, but generally they are not concerned about eternal life.
This young man came to Jesus and said, What lack I yet? It is a good thing for a young man to realize that he lacks something.
He brought his problem to Jesus. He came running. He was eager. He fell down at the feet of Jesus and laid his problem before Him. When young men have problems they have various ways of disposing of them. Some try jazz. Some try drink. Some of them try to drown their problem but it comes back. This young man brought his problem to Jesus, to the only one who really could solve it. He did not try to cover it up. It was a most commendable thing for him to do, to bring his difficulty to Jesus.
The devil is out for young men. He would rather catch a young man than anybody else in the world. He has various ways of catching them. There are many pitfalls. This young man came running to Jesus. I see often young men running, but I do not very often see them running to the church. This young man had the courage to come to Christ, and it takes courage today for a young man to break away from the gang he runs with, to stand the guying of the crowd he has been associating with.
This young ruler was a young man who was challenged by Jesus. Jesus said, “Why callest thou me good? There is none good but one, that is God.” Jesus did not utter this statement just for the sake of argument. He wants this young man to define his relation to Himself. He wants to bring out this young man and make him define his attitude toward Him. So this young man is challenged by Jesus. Jesus challenges every young man in the world. You cannot escape Him. you have to meet Him. You have to make up your mind about Him. Sooner or later you will have to come to terms with Jesus Christ. You will have to come to Him now or you will have to come to terms with him hereafter. He is now seeking you. He wants every young man or young woman here tonight, if you are not His disciple.
This was a young man of very unusual morality. This young man kept the commandments. If I were to ask every young man here who knew the ten commandments to arise, you would not all stand. This young man not simply knew the commandments but he said he had kept them. Not in cold storage. He had not kept them in that way, but he said, “All these have I observed from my youth.” He said he had kept all the ten commandments and had kept them all through his life. Could he succeed as a business man today in Chicago? I had a good friend in Louisville, a business man, and he said if the Golden Rule were put in practice in Louisville it would break up business. But this young man had kept the commandments all his life, and he was a young man of exceptional morality. Now that is just what every young man ought to be. There is no double standard of morals in this case, and there is not a single standard by bringing the girls and women down to the standard of men and boys.
The rich young ruler was a young man in the grip of one sin and did not know it. Jesus proved it to him. Jesus said, “One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in Heaven; and come, take up the cross and follow me.” Most of us lack more than one thing. This young man just had one, but that one was enough. Jesus picked him up on that. The young man did not know he had that one sin. Jesus tried him on money. He said, You go and sell all you have and then come and talk to me. Your lack, my friend tonight, may be something else. You know and God knows what it is. God calls you to give it up before you are ready to be saved. He will help you to do it. His blood will wash it away.
Jesus tested this young man. He loved money more than he did God but he did not know it. He had broken the first commandment without knowing it. He worshipped the almighty dollar more than Almighty God, but he did not know it.
I want to ask a question. Did you ever know anybody to be turned out of church for the sin of covetousness, without any other charge? I have asked that question a number of times and only once did I get an answer. In a city in Texas a man said he had heard of one case. We do not think covetousness is a sin any more. We think it is good business sense. This young man worshipped money.
Here is a young man who is unwilling to pay the price when it is demanded by Jesus. He would not give up money. He came to Jesus himself. He had come running. He had come longing to be saved, and asked Jesus what he should do to be saved, but when he found out the price he had to pay he was not willing to pay it. There are a great many reasons why men and women are not converted, but I want to tell you in my opinion the main reason is the one I am talking about right now. There is some sin in your life that you are not willing to give up.
There are a lot of young men in our colleges who talk about intellectual difficulties. There are some of these, but most of them have some sin they are not willing to give up.
Here was a young man that Jesus Christ Himself could not save. You may think this a surprising statement. You say, God can do anything. Not quite. Jesus fell in love with this young man and He tried to save him. He did all in His power to win him, and the young man wanted Christ. He had come to Christ, yet he did not give up his sin, and Jesus Himself could not get that young man to give up his sin and become His disciple, so the young man standing beside Jesus, in the presence of eternal life, deliberately turned and went away grieving. He went away when the testing time came. This young man that Jesus loved was not saved by the love of Jesus. This is a place where people are born into the kingdom of God, and God can save you now if you are willing.
Jesus let this young man go away unsaved and we never hear of him any more. We are here in the presence of God with much to be grateful for. We know the love of Jesus for us. We know that He wants to save us. Don’t you want to respond to the call of Jesus? You have put it off many a time. Don’t put it off any longer. If the spirit of God stirs your heart then respond to it because the time may come when you will be as hard hearted as that young man and sin will have such a grip on you that Almighty God will not be able to break it, and you will go on to hell. Surely there are some here who want to find eternal life. Will you accept Jesus tonight?