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The Rich Young Man Chose the Wrong Treasure

The plot of the film Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade centers around a quest for the Holy Grail, the cup Christ drank from at the Last Supper. During the movie's climax, a character named Donovan (one of the bad guys) must choose the real cup from a table filled with fakes. It's a test of his worthiness to find the Grail--and he fails it. As a result, his body disintegrates to dust and he dies.

Choosing what to treasure has eternal consequences. In today’s reading, a rich young man chose poorly. He came to Jesus to ask, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” (v. 18). Jesus responded that he would need to keep the commandments perfectly (v. 20). He knew salvation is by grace alone, not works. He knew keeping the commandments perfectly is impossible. So why did Jesus say this? In order to expose the man’s deeper spiritual problem.

When the young man claimed to have done so (v. 21), Jesus put his works to the test. He challenged him to sell all his possessions and follow Him (v. 22). The deeper question here was: What did the man truly value most?

As it turned out, he valued his material riches above “treasure in heaven” (v. 23). He chose wrongly. In practice, he loved and trusted in his money more than he loved and trusted in God. If he couldn’t obey the greatest commandment, how could he claim to have obeyed the others?

In the rest of the passage, Jesus taught His disciples what we’ve already studied—how money competes for our spiritual allegiance and how the love of money tempts us to turn away from the Lord (vv. 24–27). The good news is that those who choose correctly in this area will gain an eternal reward (vv. 28–30).

Apply the Word

The short poem “Wealth” by American writer Langston Hughes affirms the futility of trusting in riches. It concludes:

“Halos of kindness
Brighter shine
Than crowns of gold,
And brighter
Than rich diamonds
The simple dew
Of love.”

If you wish, look up the rest of this poem and ponder its simple yet profound insights.

BY Brad Baurain

Dr. Brad Baurain has worked as a writer and editor for Today in the Word since 1993. Currently, he serves as associate professor and TESOL program head at Moody Bible Institute. Brad has the unique privilege of holding a degree from four different universities (including Moody). He has also taught in China, Vietnam, the United States, and Canada. Brad and his wife, Julia, have four children and reside in Munster, Indiana.

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