Biblical People

Biblical People: The Rich Young Ruler

A young man, a rich ruler, rushes up to Jesus. The man asks what he must do to get into heaven. He’s looking for the one step he’s missing. 

“Keep the commandments,” Jesus says.

“Which ones?”

Jesus starts reeling off the Ten Commandments.

“Yep, I’ve kept every one of them since I was little,” the man insists.

Then Jesus gets to the heart of the man’s issues. “Only one thing remains,” Jesus says. “Liquidate your assets and give away everything. Only then will heaven be what you value most. Then follow me.”

The man’s devastated. He expected Jesus would affirm him for his diligent obedience to the Law of Moses and the Ten Commandments. 

That’s not how Jesus sees it. Jesus sees a man who values his wealth, but his money is getting in the way of eternity. Jesus doesn’t want people who rely on their money to follow him. He wants people who will rely on him more than anything else.

What this man seeks is confirmation that he’s doing everything required. Instead Jesus offers correction. 

What corrections is Jesus giving us? Which of our priorities is wrong and getting in our way of following Jesus?

[Discover more about this young man in Matthew 19:16–22, Mark 10:17–31, and Luke 18:18–30.]

Read more about other biblical characters in The Friends and Foes of Jesus, now available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover.

A lifelong student of the Bible, Peter DeHaan, PhD, wrote the 1,000-page website to encourage people to explore the Bible. His main blog and many books urge Christians to push past the status quo and reconsider how they practice their faith in every area of their lives.

By Peter DeHaan

Peter writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and make a faith that matters. Learn more at