Two individuals came to Jesus, each with a deep spiritual problem. One found life, but the other lost it. What went wrong in this counseling session? The first person was a rich young ruler who approached the Lord with the most burning question of his heart: “What shall I do to inherit eternal life?” (Luke 18:18).
He was not seeking a religious debate as so many others did. He honestly wanted to know. When Jesus listed five of the commandments, the young man replied that he had a perfect record in keeping them all. Christ simply responded to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor . . . and come, follow Me” (Luke 18:22). Scripture tells us that the rich ruler went away sorrowful (see Matthew 19:22).
The second man was also rich, but he had gained his wealth by shamelessly defrauding others. Zacchaeus was a well-known crook. When Jesus came to his house, He said nothing to the man about selling his house or giving his money away. Amazingly, Zacchaeus freely made the decision to give half of his possessions to the poor and restore four times the amount he stole to everyone he’d cheated.
What was it that compelled Zacchaeus to respond so differently than the rich young ruler?
When Zacchaeus saw Christ, he saw the pearl of great price. He saw in Him everything, all things, completion. He realized, If I have Him, I can easily give away everything. What else do I need?
But when the young ruler saw Jesus, he didn’t see the pearl of great price. If we could know what his thoughts were that day, I imagine most of them were focused on what he would be giving up, more than what he would gain in Christ.
We very often make the same mistake as the rich young ruler. We truly want to follow Christ and experience His abundant life, but we focus on what we may have to give up and are afraid to let go of those things we have relied on for so long.