Mark 8:35-37, Luke 12:13-21, Luke 16:19-31, Matthew 16:24-27, Matthew 19:16-22, Mark 10:17-22, Luke 18:18-23
Summary: As the days draw nearer to the Lord’s promised return, more people are choosing the wealth of the world rather than taking care of the most precious commodity they have, and that is their soul. Nothing of this world is worth the loss of eternal life with Christ.
Some time ago, I watched a series of programs from the BBC (British Broadcasting Company) that centered on a variety of individuals who had encountered the Lord Jesus Christ at some point in their lives yet walked away with nothing more than faint curiosity, some conversation, or a passing glance. Each of these characters had a prominent place in the Gospels. The title of the presentation was “Tales from the Madhouse.” These individuals were permanent “guests” who dwelt within the confines of a crumbling Victorian mansion under the “care” of indifferent personnel who demonstrated by their expressions and routines a noticeable sense of perverse joy in seeing these souls confined to what was obviously an eternity of regret and reflection.
One of these unfortunate souls confined within the “madhouse” was the “rich young ruler” who is mentioned in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. Out of all the tenants of this “madhouse,” it is he who realized that the wealth, wisdom, influence, and authority he had possessed were not worth the eternal cost. His tale was the most poignant and sorrowful of all the “guests” confined to the “madhouse.”
Within the confines of his rooms were representations of the finest things money and influence could buy. He had the finest and most delectable foods placed before him. He possessed a massive library filled with the great literature and works of philosophy humanity had ever produced. He quoted from them frequently while speaking to an invisible audience, especially the works of the Greek philosopher Euripides, known for his hedonistic quote of “eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die.”
He also wore the finest clothes money could buy. He drank the best of wines while waxing eloquent about how he had kept the commandments of Moses faithfully, or so he believed until He approached the Lord Jesus with the question of what he needed to do in order to “earn” eternal life, as if he could purchase it with the assurance that all was well with his soul.
He seemed to be an honest inquirer on the surface, but the Lord knew the inner love he had for his money and possessions, which in reality was his real god. While telling Jesus he kept the commandments, he was violating the first commandment where God said, “You shall have no other gods before Me” (Exodus 20:1-3).
His boasting about “keeping the commandments” in his own way demonstrated what the prophet Isaiah had said concerning our “righteousness” being nothing more than a filthy rag (Isaiah 64:6). Nothing we do or say in our own strength will give us access to heaven nor make us right with the LORD, even if we attempt to keep God’s commandments, which is impossible for us to achieve due to our sinful natures.
Until he let go of that which he considered of value here in this world and obeyed what Jesus told Him to do and really be one of His disciples, nothing would really change within his soul. He would have ended up no better than the disciple who had charge of the money belt, Judas Iscariot, the false follower who sold out Jesus for the price of a slave (Matthew 20:14-16; Mark 14:10-11; Luke 22:3-6) and lost his soul as a result (Matthew 27:3-10).
The ruler, who was now an elderly gentleman, was speaking of this and other issues, but at the same time, you began to notice that his fine clothing was starting to turn old and worn out. The delectable food that had been spread out on the table was starting to disappear. His rooms that had been filled with earthly possessions were in a state of neglect and rot. Everything that he had believed to be of worth turned out to be nothing more than a pitiful and horrendous representation of the loss of wealth and power he had foolishly and arrogantly believed was his for the keeping.
In the end, he had nothing left to his name except a bowl of stale and moldy gruel in which he placed his face and began to slurp up with both desperation and fear that this last morsel of earthly possession would be taken away as well, leaving him with nothing. He had realized, much too late, that he had walked away from that which is truly valuable and now faced a cruel eternity of inner madness, knowing that his earthly wealth was, in the end, useless.
If ever there was a more sobering illustration of the madness and cruelty of an eternal hell, then the writers and performers who presented these sad and inwardly terrifying consequences of rejecting the offer of salvation in Christ hit the nail on the proverbial head.
We who have read the accounts of Jesus’ ministry should also take to heart the teachings He presented to not only His disciples, but to everyone who possessed the “ears to hear” that made them stop and think about their relationship and accountability before God and more importantly, what they would do with Jesus and His claims to be the fulfillment of the “Suffering Servant” who would take away the sins of the world and show that He alone was the only way to the Father in heaven (Isaiah 53:1-12; John 1:29, 14:1-3, 6, 15:13; 2 Corinthians 8:9; Ephesians 5:2; 1 Peter 3:18).
So, after reading this sad and sobering story, where do you stand? Do you possess “ears to hear”? Would you now reject the belief that the things of this world can satisfy you (1 John 2: 15-17)? You cannot take them with you after you die (Hebrews 9:27).
Repent of your sins today (2 Corinthians 6:2) and give your life over to the saving grace and mercy of the Lord Jesus Christ. He offers the riches of heaven, true rest, protection, and redemption of your life and soul (Matthew 11:28-30; John 10:28-30). Do not turn away from His saving grace only to face an eternity of unbearable imprisonment, torment, and a bowl of stale gruel with the nagging memory of what could have been. Friend, heed what has been written here and make your decision – either a banquet in heaven, or gruel in hell. It’s your choice.
My book, The Scope of Biblical Prophecy, is now available at: www.parsonsporch.com. It is a general look at the role and importance of Bible prophecy, the importance of correct interpretation of the Scriptures, the varied ways of how the last days events are to occur, and that in the end, Jesus wins.
Donald was born and reared in the authentic “Cajun Country” of southern Louisiana. He is a graduate of Louisiana College (B.A. in History Education/ Biblical Studies, 1984), New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary (M.Div. In Christian Education, 1994), and Andersonville Baptist Seminary (Doctor of Ministry, Biblical Exposition, 2000). He has been in the Gospel ministry since 1986, serving as an evangelist, interim and supply pastor, hospital and rescue mission chaplain, high school and college teacher, and pastor in churches in Louisiana and Oklahoma.
In 2018, he began to devote his time to the rich field of internet and social media evangelism and outreach. In 2021 he became a member of the Oklahoma Conference of Southern Baptist Evangelists, using his skills as a writer to contribute articles and sermons to websites such as Rapture Ready, Sermon Central, and Inspirational Christian Blogs. He also writes Bible studies and curricula for churches in southeast and central Asia and Africa, the locations of which are anonymous. He can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org for inquiries, information, and speaking/preaching engagements. A copy of his resume is also available upon request.