The Rich Young Man

by Jesse Lyman Hurlbut

Soon afterward a young man who was one of the leaders in the church of his town came running, and bowed low before Jesus. "Good Teacher," said the young man, "tell me what to do if I am to be saved and have life everlasting."

"Why do you call me 'good'?" answered Jesus. "There is only one who is really good; that is God. To be saved, you have only to do God's will. You know what his commandments are; keep them."

"Why, what commands do you mean?" asked the young man. He supposed that Jesus, like many of the scribes, who were the teachers of God's law, had given some special rules of his own.

Jesus said to him, "I mean the ten commandments of God, such as, 'Thou shalt not steal; thou shalt not kill; thou shalt not say what is false; honor thy father and thy mother,' and so on."

The young man said, "Teacher, all these I have kept ever since I was a child. What more do I need?"

As Jesus looked at this young man, so eager in his wish to please God, he loved him, and felt a special longing to have him among his disciples.

"If you really wish to be perfect," he said to the young man, "you do need one thing more. Sell everything that you have, and give all the money to the poor, and you will have your treasure in heaven; and come, follow me, and be one of my disciples."

When the young man heard those words, he felt greatly disappointed, and turned away, unwilling to do what Jesus asked, for he was very rich, and he loved his money. After he had left them, Jesus turned to his disciples:

"How hard it is," said Jesus, "for a rich man to come into the kingdom of God!"

As the disciples heard this, they were greatly surprised, for all the Jews thought that to have riches was a sign of God's special favor. As they stood silent, not knowing how to answer these words, Jesus said again:

"Children, how hard it is for those who trust in their riches to enter into the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to get into the kingdom of God!"

They were amazed at this, and said, "Then who can be saved?"

"What is impossible with men," answered Jesus, "is possible with God.