The Rich Young Man (Mark 10:17-31)

A man ran up to Jesus, calling him "Good Teacher", and asked him what he had to do in order to inherit eternal life. Jesus replied that only God was good, and then quoted from the Ten Commandments. The man replied that he had kept these all of his life. So Jesus gave him the most difficult of instructions - in order to have treasure in heaven, he had to sell all he had and give the money to the poor. But the man was too attached to his many earthly possessions and went away from Jesus upset, unable to fulfil this command. And Jesus felt sorry for him. He then explained how hard it would be for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of Heaven (easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle) and that following God would result in persecution, hardship and a need to leave family and possessions behind - but the eventual rewards would outweigh this. "The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."


  • Wealth - in the first century, this was a status symbol. People believed that it was a reward for living a good life, and would make it easier for you to get to heaven.
  • Keep the commandments - this is part of being a good follower of Jesus.
  • There's more to it than simply commandments, though… - to be a true follower of Jesus required a lifestyle change. Keeping the commandments was a good start, but in order to follow Jesus most effectively,sacrifices had to be made - actions as well as words. Here, it involved the sacrifice of wealth and possessions, in the hope of a future reward in heaven.
  • It's not meant to be easy - nobody ever said that following Jesus would be a picnic! The sacrifices which the followers had to make were not meant to be simple - they gave up important parts of their lives in order to pursue what they believed to be right. After all, Jesus' life was not an easy one either…

Contemporary Issues

  • Danger of wealth - then and now.
  • Necessity of sacrifice in order to follow one's beliefs.
  • Challenges.                                          



What did the rich young man mean when he talked about "eternal life"? 

What did Jesus mean when he referred to "treasure in heaven"? 

Why did Jesus tell the man to sell his possessions and give the money to the poor? Why wasn't it enough for him simply to follow the commandments? 

What does this story teach about Jesus?

Give one or two examples of people who have been prepared to suffer for their beliefs.

Can rich people go to heaven? Briefly explain your thoughts.