Jesus instructs the rich young ruler of Mark 10:17-27 to sell all that he has, distribute his wealth to the poor, take up his cross, and to follow Him, with the sole positive aim to replace what this rich young ruler currently has with something infinitely more valuable…a divinely composed adventure of faith and treasure in heaven. If this young ruler could have answered this singular call of Jesus to follow Him, like the personal calling of Matthew the publican tax collector or Peter the fisherman, he would have been mentioned in the gospels and in the book of Acts by name as a person “coming in and going out” with the disciples as a leader in the early church.
This rich young ruler would be a familiar and treasured name known to us down through the succeeding centuries. The adventures and exploits in his God-composed journey of faith life-script would have been included within the priceless space of the Word of God in the New Testament, possibly standing alongside Peter and John before the Sanhedrin (Acts 4:5-22), accompanying Peter to speak to Cornelius and the Gentiles in Acts 10, or going with Barnabas to Tarsus in search of Saul/Paul (Acts 11:25-26) to join them at Antioch as a teaching prophet.
But sadly the “trust in riches” of this world, at the high-end of conventional normalcy, proved to be too much for this rich young ruler, and he passes out of history as the one and only person who declined the personal offer of Jesus to follow Him. Unlike every person of faith recorded in the Bible, this rich young ruler could not let go of a lower mindset anchored in the secure familiarity of going our own way, and to instead grab ahold of the higher ways of God through self-abandoned faith in the way of the cross.
“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you” (Mt. 6:33), does not say “and all these things shall be withheld from you.” Paul says in Philippians 4:11 “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” Peter expresses this well in the closing to his first epistle: “But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you” (1 Pet. 5:10).