A Rich Man and a Poor Man: Part 2

Luke 18:15‑43  •  11 min. read  •  grade level: 5
Luke 18:15-43
When he heard this, "he was very sorrowful: for he was very rich." Is not that remarkable? He was very sorrowful because he was very rich. Well, we might say, "If I were rich, that would solve all my troubles." Would it? Did it solve this man's troubles? He was very sorrowful, because he was very rich.
In another gospel, where the same incident is recorded, we read that "he went away sorrowful." (Matt. 19:2222But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions. (Matthew 19:22).) I know of no sadder words than these: "he went away"-from whom? From Jesus-away from life and love and blessing. He turned his back upon that light from heaven. Toward what did he turn? Toward eternal ruin. Some day that beautiful life was going to break up- to go all to pieces. He would stagger on, out into darkness. It is a dreadful thing to think of. Many a soul has done it-come down to the last hour with nothing to hold on to-nothing! They feel slipping from their grip all that they had held dear. It is being torn from their unwilling fingers. They go out into hopeless night.
It is to be remarked that we never read of this young man's coming back to Christ. There is no record of his having profited by the Lord's advice. He went away very sorrowful. And when Jesus saw that he was very sorrowful, He said, "With what difficulty shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God." Oh, you can bless God that you were not born rich. Had we been born rich, the likelihood is that we would still be on the highway of sin. "It is easier for a camel to go through a needle's eye, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God!" You can fill your pockets with gospel tracts and go out into the Mexican section of this city. You can leave your little Spanish messages from door to door. If you are able to speak a few words in Spanish, you will get many a courteous "Thank you." But suppose you fill your pockets with gospel leaflets and go out into that section of the city where live the millionaires in their palatial homes. The likelihood is that you will never get the opportunity to even contact the rich. You will be met at the door by the maid; and when you present your card and state your mission, you will be refused. With what difficulties shall they who have riches enter into the kingdom of God.
The answer of our Lord puzzles the disciples. They regarded riches as something desirable; perhaps they thought they would like to have a little more themselves. So they raise the question, "Who then can be saved? And He said, The things which are impossible with men are possible with God." Here we retreat into the sovereignty of God. The older I get, clear brethren, the more I enjoy that side of the truth. "The things which are impossible with men are possible with God." God is going to invade some of those rich homes in that aristocratic section of the city and touch some hearts. He will have them with Him in heaven. He has ways and means of doing it. So we read down through the years, there were some rich who were saved. Joseph of Arimathea was one. He had a nice clean tomb waiting for the Lord's body. Yes, God knows how to save a rich person, and in His sovereignty He will do so to the good pleasure of His will, blessed be His name!
You and I are going to be saved because of the same sovereignty. It is not because we were poor, but because the grace of God sought us each in his hiding place, and drew us gently forth to meet Jesus. He gave us to see beauty in Him. We accepted God's offer of salvation.
At this point Peter interrupts with one of his sudden questions: "We have left all, and followed Thee." The young man had turned away. But Peter had just heard something about following Jesus, and so having treasure in heaven. He eagerly awaits the Lord's appraisal of the consequences of having left all to follow Him. Our Lord puts a "Verily" before His reply. It is important. There is no man-Peter, you, or any of the rest-who has "left house, or parents, or brethren, or wife, or children, for the kingdom of God's sake, who shall not receive manifold more in this present time, and in the world to come life everlasting." You know that the Christian gets the better part of both lives. "Godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come." 1 Tim. 4:88For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come. (1 Timothy 4:8). We have seen this exemplified over and over again. I remember a well-known brother saying to me, "The children of the saints do get on." What he meant was, that as our children seek employment, their Christian faithfulness soon manifests itself in their work; and this is soon recognized by promotions, responsibilities, etc., with corresponding increased remuneration. They do not come to work Monday morning with the odor of liquor still on their breath. Their energies are not consumed in the gratification of the lusts of the flesh. They have more to offer their employer. Yes, godliness is profitable, even in this life. So in this way it pays to be a Christian. Who shall "receive manifold more in this present time," and then, what next? "In the world to come life everlasting."
Recently I was present at the funeral of a prosperous young man. He died in the bloom of life. The corpse was handsome as it lay there in the cold sleep of death. The wife was a believer, and she had a large floral piece standing in front of the casket with one word plainly wrought in the design-"REDEEMED." I thought, How lovely! Though the young man lay there in the defeat of death, yet the soul was redeemed; he was with the Lord. In the world to come, his will be the portion of life everlasting. Yes, dear saint of God, our best assets are on the other side. We are journeying on until we can enter into the good of them. Thus the Lord comforts Peter with the thought, Peter, if you have left house or wife or children for My sake, you will not be the loser. God will never be debtor to any man. Yes, it pays to be a Christian. "Them that honor Me I will honor, and they that despise Me shall be lightly esteemed." 1 Sam. 2:3030Wherefore the Lord God of Israel saith, I said indeed that thy house, and the house of thy father, should walk before me for ever: but now the Lord saith, Be it far from me; for them that honor me I will honor, and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed. (1 Samuel 2:30).
In the verses immediately following, we have the Lord's announcing what lay before Him as necessary to the accomplishing of this great salvation. He announces His crucifixion, His death, and His resurrection. These great transcendent facts lay at the threshold of all blessings that are to be ours through time and eternity. But they understood none of these things yet; they were hid from them. How dependent we are on the Spirit of God!
I have a cousin who some years ago said, "I read the Bible, but I cannot understand it; it is too deep for me." But that was years ago; she does not talk that way now. She enjoys her Bible. What has brought about the change? She has been converted saved. Now I never hear any complaints about her not being able to understand her Bible. God has sent His Holy Spirit to dwell in her heart, and to take the things of Christ and make them good to her soul.
We must have the indwelling Spirit of God if we are to understand the Word of God. Though the disciples did not understand the Lord at that time, yet, not long afterward, on that memorable day of Pentecost, they received the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Now their souls were flooded with the light from heaven, and they were able to understand all things.
If you and I are to understand the Scriptures, it will be by the submission of our hearts to the gracious leading of the Spirit of God. That is why, beloved, we should not grieve the Spirit. A. grieved Spirit is occupying us with our wretched selves, rather than with Christ. Se we become conscious of a lack of progress in divine things.
We started our talk with the story of a very rich man. We shall close now with a brief reference to a very poor man. This will take us back to the 17th verse. "Verily I say unto you, Who-• soever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein." In the 35th verse we have a blind man by the wayside, a beggar. I could not conjure up a picture that would more excite the pity of the human heart than that. Blindness is a sore, sore trial. But when blindness is coupled with beggary, we have what calls forth from our hearts the deepest pity. Think for a moment of those poor unfortunates we see brushing the sidewalk with a white cane, with their little tin cup in hand, and a sign on the breast, "I am blind!" We hear the tinkle of an occasional coin in the cup. The human heart moves in pity toward a fellow mortal in his sorry plight.
So here in our chapter. This beggar had nothing to recommend him other than his need. He claims no other ground of recognition than his own exceeding need. "Jesus, Thou. Son of David, have mercy on me." Why did he not say, "Jesus, Thou Son of David, what shall I do?" Such was the approach of the rich man. But no, we read nothing here of doing. It is "Jesus, Thou Son of David, have mercy on me." What a difference in the approach! The other man in his self-complacency says, "Good Master." Not so here. "Jesus, Thou Son of David." He gives Him His official title and calls for mercy. His companions rebuked him and told him to keep still. But he cried the more, "Have mercy on me." He wanted nothing but mercy. And, beloved, that is the cry God likes to hear. It is the simplicity of the child, just bringing to the Lord his need. He is at the end of his resources, and casts himself upon the riches of that blessed Son of David. "Jesus stood, and commanded him to be brought unto Him." He asks, "What wilt thou?" "And he said, Lord, that I may receive my sight." He made no promises; he only presented his need. "Jesus said unto him, Receive thy sight." Ah, when a soul owns that he is blind, and gets down at the feet of Jesus to own his need, then he gets the blessing. The last thing the natural heart is willing to do is to own its total poverty toward God.
I remember Dr. Dashwood's giving an address at St. Louis. He told about a young lady to whom he had spoken as to her soul's salvation. Her reply was, "I'm not interested." He replied, "It is not a question of your being interested, but of whether or not you are willing to be saved." She admitted that this was the real reason of her indifference. So the Doctor replied, "Are you willing to be made willing?" She said, "No, I do not think I am." "Well, possibly you would be willing to be made willing to be willing." Again she responded in the negative. Finally, he asked, "Would you go as far as to ask God to make you willing to be made willing to be made willing to be willing?" She thought a bit, and said, "Yes, I think I would be ready to go that far." So the Doctor said, "Let us kneel and tell the Lord what you have just said." So they knelt, and the Doctor prayed, "Lord, look upon us. Make this dear soul willing to be made willing to be made willing to be saved. So, Lord, we count on Thee to do this for Jesus' sake. Amen." As they arose from their knees, the tears were flowing; she was willing. And, of course, the result was, she was brightly saved right there. Yes, that was the crux of the whole matter.
Do we really desire salvation? are we willing? There is a bountiful supply awaiting us, but it must be on the ground of mercy; not by DOING. We have to come as a little child.
As this dear blind man received his sight, how happy he was to follow Jesus in the way, and glorify God. The rich man went away; the poor man followed Jesus. Which would you rather be? -the rich young ruler who went away from Jesus, still rich, but still blind, or the poor man who followed Jesus in the way, still poor in this world, but with the vision of his soul opened to the treasures of heaven? Will you come to Him now and be made eternally rich?
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