(Study Outline sourced from “The System Bible Study” – “The Book of Life” [Zondervan])
6. The Rich Young Ruler And The Parable Of The Labourers
“….what good thing must I do to get eternal life?” . This question has been asked by all who have been born into this world and have come face to face with the claim of the gospel message. Indeed it has been taught by many man-made religions that one must earn a way into heaven in order to gain life eternal, but the Word of God, and the teaching of our Lord Jesus is, that salvation and eternal life is a gift of God; it is by God’s mercy to undeserving sinners; “If you want to enter life, obey the commandments.” . To the Jew, obeying the commandments was the means of justification before a Holy God, and all Jews made every effort to do this, but like all mankind, found it impossible to be obedient in all aspects of the demands of the Law. The Scriptures teach, “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.” , and this was the whole purpose of Messiah’s coming to earth; Paul explains this in his letter to the Galatians where he writes, “All who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written: ‘Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.’ Clearly no one is justified before God by the law, because, ‘The righteous will live by faith.’”.
The reply from the man is therefore understandable, “All these I have kept,” … “What do I still lack?” , emphasizing the fact that one cannot inherit eternal life by keeping the Law since no one is capable of keeping the entire Law, thus some other way had to be found for us to inherit eternal life.
Our Lord Jesus in His teachings attempted to make all His hearers understand this when He taught on one occasion, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” indicating that He is the only way that anyone can enter that eternal rest . Our Lord also taught that our faith in Him should also produce good works, so he said to the rich ruler, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.” to which the man’s response was that of sadness because he was a man of great wealth, our Lord responds by saying that it is very difficult for rich people to enter the kingdom when they place more value for their earthly riches as opposed to the heavenly riches that eternal life offers.
In astonishment, the disciples questioned among themselves, “Who then can be saved?” , and our Lord Jesus explains to them that what seems impossible with man is achievable with God because God extends His mercy to mankind in the gift of His Son as the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and those who have given up all their earthly wealth for the establishment of the kingdom of God will be rewarded here on earth as well as with eternal life in the coming kingdom, and if this seems unfair to some people, he illustrates the Sovereign power of God in rewarding His servants, in the parable of the Labourers in the Vineyard . In the parable, the landowner begins hiring workers for his vineyard and states, “You .. go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.” , and continues to hire up to the last working hour of the day still offering the same wages. At the end of the day there is a complaint from the workers that were hired at the start of the day, “’These men who were hired last worked only one hour.…and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.’” , the discussion finally ends when the landowner asks, “Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?” .
The reward of eternal life will be the same for all who believe in our Lord Jesus Christ, whether early or late in life, because it is based upon faith alone.
7. Jesus Repeats The Prediction Of His Death – The Request Of James And John
“They were on their way up to Jerusalem….” the continuation of His last journey to Jerusalem that began at Ephraim , then into Galilee, through Perea to Jericho , to Bethany and finally to Jerusalem .
Our Lord Jesus explains to His disciples “the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and teachers of the law” who will condemn Him to death, then “He will be handed over to the Gentiles” and they will mock Him, spit on Him, beat Him and then kill Him; and three days later He will rise from the dead. This was the third time that He gave this prediction to His disciples, and all this, according to Luke’s gospel, was foreseen by the prophets centuries before , and he further adds, “The disciples did not understand any of this. Its meaning was hidden from them, and they did not know what he was talking about.”. One possibility why this was “hidden from them” could be that they were more hopeful that Jesus was their deliver who would break the yoke of the Roman power, free them, and set up His kingdom immediately, which could have led to the next discussion that is recorded by Mark and Matthew.
Matthew’s record states that “the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Jesus with her sons and…. asked a favor of him”, Mark leaves out that detail and says that James and John came directly to Jesus with their request, “Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory.” , such positions were of prestige and power in the kingdom that they were expecting Jesus to immediately establish on His arrival in Jerusalem. This request, needless to say, caused the remaining ten to become indignant, however, our Lord teaches them a lesson from this request of James and John and the resultant response from the others. “Can you drink the cup I drink or be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with?”.To drink the cup or to be baptized with the baptism, was a Jewish expression meaning to share the fate of someone else, and here that fate was the suffering that Jesus was about to experience as he gave Himself a ransom to God for our sins. The cup for Jesus would be filled with the wine of God’s wrath expressed in His judgment for rebellious sinners and Jesus adds that they would indeed drink of that cup as well as both would later suffer as martyrs; but not in the significance that He would drink of the cup. However, the positions of prestige and power were not His to fill, His Father would fill them. In addressing the anger of the other disciples, our Lord explains that such is the attitude of Gentile officials who exercise their authority over others, but in His kingdom, for one to be greathe must first learn to serve. We should therefore follow His example of service .