Christ's Object Lessons
by Ellen G. White
Chapter 28: The Reward of Grace
Based on Matt. 19:16-30; 20:1-16; Mark 10:17-31; Luke 18:18-30
< Prev T. of C.
The truth of God's free grace had been almost lost
sight of by the Jews. The rabbis taught that God's
favor must be earned. The reward of the righteous they
hoped to gain by their own works. Thus their worship was
prompted by a grasping, mercenary spirit. From this spirit
even the disciples of Christ were not wholly free, and the
Saviour sought every opportunity of showing them their
error. Just before He gave the parable of the laborers, an
event occurred that opened the way for Him to present the
As He was walking by the way, a young ruler came
running to Him, and kneeling, reverently saluted Him.
"Good Master," he said, "what good thing shall I do, that
I may have eternal life?"
The ruler had addressed Christ merely as an honored
rabbi, not discerning in Him the Son of God. The Saviour
said, "Why callest thou Me good? There is none good
but one, that is, God." On what ground do you call Me [p. 391] good? God is the one good. If you recognize Me as
such, you must receive Me as His Son and representative.
"If thou wilt enter into life," He added, "keep the
commandments." The character of God is expressed in His
law; and in order for you to be in harmony with God,
the principles of His law must be the spring of your every
Christ does not lessen the claims of the law. In
unmistakable language He presents obedience to it as the
condition of eternal life—the same condition that was required
of Adam before his fall. The Lord expects no less of the
soul now than He expected of man in Paradise, perfect
obedience, unblemished righteousness. The requirement
under the covenant of grace is just as broad as the
requirement made in Eden—harmony with God's law, which is
holy, just, and good.
To the words, "Keep the commandments," the young
man answered, "Which?" He supposed that some ceremonial
precept was meant, but Christ was speaking of the
law given from Sinai. He mentioned several commandments
from the second table of the Decalogue, then summed
them all up in the precept, "Thou shalt love thy neighbour
The young man answered without hesitation, "All these
things have I kept from my youth up; what lack I yet?"
His conception of the law was external and superficial.
Judged by a human standard, he had preserved an
unblemished character. To a great degree his outward life had
been free from guilt; he verily thought that his obedience
had been without a flaw. Yet he had a secret fear that
all was not right between his soul and God. This prompted
the question, "What lack I yet?"
"If thou wilt be perfect," Christ said, "go and sell that
thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure [p. 392] in heaven, and come and follow Me. But when the young
man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful; for he
had great possessions."
|Jesus & the Rich Young Ruler.—Davis Collection.|
The lover of self is a transgressor of the law. This
Jesus desired to reveal to the young man, and He gave
him a test that would make manifest the selfishness of his
heart. He showed him the plague spot in his character.
The young man desired no further enlightenment. He had
cherished an idol in the soul; the world was his god. He
professed to have kept the commandments, but he was
destitute of the principle which is the very spirit and life
of them all. He did not possess true love for God or man.
This want was the want of everything that would qualify
him to enter the kingdom of heaven. In his love of self
and worldly gain he was out of harmony with the principles
When this young ruler came to Jesus, his sincerity and [p. 393] earnestness won the Saviour's heart. He "beholding him
loved him." In this young man He saw one who might
do service as a preacher of righteousness. He would have
received this talented and noble youth as readily as He
received the poor fishermen who followed Him. Had the
young man devoted his ability to the work of saving souls,
he might have become a diligent and successful laborer
But first he must accept the conditions of discipleship.
He must give himself unreservedly to God. At the
Saviour's call, John, Peter, Matthew, and their companions
"left all, rose up, and followed Him." Luke 5:28. The same
consecration was required of the young ruler. And in this
Christ did not ask a greater sacrifice than He Himself had
made. "He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor,
that ye through His poverty might be rich." 2 Cor. 8:9.
The young man had only to follow where Christ led the way.
Christ looked upon the young man and longed after
his soul. He longed to send him forth as a messenger of
blessing to men. In the place of that which He called
upon him to surrender, Christ offered him the privilege of
companionship with Himself. "Follow Me," He said. This
privilege had been counted a joy by Peter, James, and John.
The young man himself looked upon Christ with admiration.
His heart was drawn toward the Saviour. But he
was not ready to accept the Saviour's principle of
self-sacrifice. He chose his riches before Jesus. He wanted
eternal life, but would not receive into the soul that unselfish
love which alone is life, and with a sorrowful heart he
turned away from Christ.
As the young man turned away, Jesus said to His
disciples, "How hardly shall they that have riches enter
into the kingdom of God." These words astonished the [p. 394] disciples. They had been taught to look upon the rich as
the favorites of heaven; worldly power and riches they
themselves hoped to receive in the Messiah's kingdom; if
the rich were to fail of entering the kingdom, what hope
could there be for the rest of men?
< Prev T. of C.