Lesson Ten


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Memory Verse: Matthew 19:21
Further Study: Matthew 19:16-30; Mark 10:17-31; Luke 18:18-30; The Desire of Ages, pp. 518-523; Christ’s Object Lessons, pp. 390-396; The Bible Story, vol. 9, pp. 15-18

I once knew a mother who thought her children were amazing. She believed they were the brightest, most talented, most attractive children, and clearly superior to others. She believed they should be the star of every program, the soloist in any ensemble, the one on whom all should focus, because, well, her children were amazing. She encouraged her children with these same ideas until they believed it as well. Because of this they didn’t take direction because they thought they were better and smarter than their teachers, pastors, or other adults.

Maybe you’ve known a mother like this. 

Maybe you’ve known a mother like this. The problem that arises is that while her children are closer to average, maybe even above average, had they accepted direction and guidance, they could have become better. But instead, at least to many adults who worked with them, they were more of a challenge than a blessing.

One might think the rich young ruler’s story is about money and you’d be partially right. The young man came to Jesus (see Digging Deeper for more) and asked what he needed to do to be saved. But he came to Jesus with a high opinion of himself. When Jesus gave him the answer, the young man agreed that he had done all Jesus suggested and more. He’d kept the commandments, all of them, since a young boy. He said this with all sincerity, not arrogance. It’s unclear where he got this idea about himself, but like the children in the example above, he truly believed perfection for him was just around the corner (or already arrived). So, Jesus decided to test him.

Jesus decided to test him. 

Jesus began at the beginning. He started with the first commandment. Jesus directed the young man to sell all he had and follow Him. And this is where we discover that the story isn’t about money. Oh, for the ruler it is—he went away sorrowful because parting with his money was more than he could bear. But the takeaway is more about what we place before God. You see the young man thought he was keeping all the commandments and yet, his inability to give up what was most dear to him was a violation of the first commandment. He had developed a god without even realizing it until put to the test. And unfortunately, his own high estimation of himself may have blocked his ability to listen more carefully to Jesus’ counsel.

Our children can become the center of our universe, and by rights they should. They have been given to us by God to raise, educate, and nurture for His service. But is it possible we may affirm them so much that we cause them to become less open to instruction from others and even from the Bible itself?

Let us place them into the arms of Jesus every single day. 

Let us place them into the arms of Jesus every single day. They belong to Him. It’s a lesson we’ve heard before—cherish your children but be sure they understand they belong to God first. When we partner with God in raising our children, they become a blessing to others, and we are renewed.

Digging Deeper 

Notice that the rich young ruler had a lot going for him. We shouldn’t dismiss him too quickly even though we know that he walked away from Jesus. Mark’s account tells us that he “came running, knelt before Him, and asked Him, ‘Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?” (Mark 10:17).

The young man had watched Jesus blessing the children. He was moved by Jesus’ tenderness toward them and as Jesus walked away, he felt compelled to run after him. Running after Jesus expressed his earnestness and eagerness to talk to Jesus. When he got Jesus’ attention he knelt before him, yet another expression of respect and understanding as to who he was addressing.

The young man then addresses Jesus as “Good Teacher,” and we find Jesus questioning His choice of words. This is because the word “good” was generally, in Jewish tradition, ascribed only to God alone. So, for the ruler to address Jesus as “good” was to, in fact, attribute that he believed Jesus to be more than just a rabbi or teacher, but he addressed Jesus as “God.”

The story ends sadly as the young man had much of it right—he understood the commandments, he recognized Jesus as more than a man, and he was eager to be a part of God’s kingdom. But in the end, the sacrifice he would need to make was too much.

Making it Real

We read the story of the young ruler and want to rewrite the ending or to read later that he’d become a wonderful follower of Jesus. Perhaps he did and the record simply doesn’t record it. But it allows us to pause and ask ourselves a similar question: What is standing in the way of our giving everything to Jesus? Have we sacrificed all or is there something that remains?



Merle Poirier writes from Silver Spring, Maryland, where she works as the operation manager for Adventist Review and Adventist World magazines as well as the designer for KidsView, a magazine for 8-12-year-olds. She enjoys spending time with her family including being a grandmother to two active little boys, who greatly enjoy Starting With Jesus, and a granddaughter, who’s delighting everyone with her smiles. She is blessed to have all three living close by, continually bringing joy and delight.


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