The following was written by a friend of mine, Pastor Tim O Brien who pastors a church in Fort Leonard Wood Missouri. I decided to post it because it contains some interesting insight background information about the story of the rich young ruler that I have not heard before. Enjoy!
A rich landowner asked Jesus, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” The man insisted that he had kept many of the moral commands his whole life, but Jesus said, ‘You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor. Then come, follow Me.”
What Jesus asked this man to do is key to understanding this passage. The great estates this man owned were populated by peasants who worked for him. Those peasants’ families, however, used to own that land!
When Rome conquered Judea and Gallilee, they taxed the people so heavily that only the richest could afford it. Everyone else had to foreclose on their land. They would sell out to rich Jewish landowners who would then collect tax from them and pay off the Romans.
These peasants were not living what the covenant people of God had been promised. God had promised to take them out of Egypt (out of slavery) to give them a land. Now they were back in slavery.
Jesus asked this man to do a bold thing. He asked him to sell his land back to the Jews who rightfully owned it. This man, however, was not concerned with the plight of his fellow Jews or the plan of God.
God had always desired to empower a covenant people, free from slavery. These people were to own the land and carry the presence of God. They were to be a display of God’s glory in the earth.
This man could not bring himself to sell his land. He was too concerned with self-preservation and his own empowerment. He lacked honor for God and His covenant.
We have the same situation in our religious system today. Religious leaders are too concerned with their self-preservation and their empowerment. It is the people of God, not just select leaders, who are supposed to carry the presence of God, do the work of the ministry, and shine forth the glory of God.
We make up non-biblical words like “clergy” and “laity” to reserve empowerment for only a select few. We prohibit covenant people from doing the work of the ministry: baptizing, offering communion, laying hands on the sick, etc. Our pastors, who are supposed to equip the saints for the work of the ministry, end up doing the ministry.
In our ministry, we are practicing being the covenant people of God. On Sunday morning, our congregation happily shows up early. Everyone knows they are responsible for the ministry, even the children. When the first song starts, we, like priests carrying the Ark, usher in the presence of God together. We are experiencing life!
by Pastor Tim O’Brien
Rock of Ages Ministries