He Just Walked Away


Welcome to My Thoughts and this segment is titled, “He Just Walked Away.” Open your Bibles to the Gospel of Mark, Chapter 10 and we will start reading at verse 17 and finish on verse 22. There have been many sermons preached on the Rich Young Ruler. Some have used the titles of “The Fatal Refusal” or “The Man Who Had Everything but the Main Thing.” The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke all record the incident, but we will look at it through the Gospel of Mark.

You cannot read this passage without a touch of sorrow in your heart. Jesus did not push him away, refuse him, or disqualify him. He was willing to tell him and wanted him to know the truth.

We All Have a Choice

God gave us the ability to make choices and it is all up to each individual to make those choices that will have an effect on the outcome of their lives. Deuteronomy 30:19, “I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore, choose life, that both you and your descendants may live.” The young man has the power to say yes or no. His decision was to turn his back on Jesus and refuse to follow him.

Passage Reading – Mark 10:17-22

17 Now as He was going out on the road, one came running knelt before Him, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?”

18 So Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is God.”

19 “You know the commandments; do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not bear false witness, do not defraud, honor your father and your mother.”

20 An he answered and said to Him, “Teacher, all these things I have kept from my youth.”

21 Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “One thing you lack. Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me.”

22 But he was sad at this word, and went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.

Therefore, it is all sadder to see this man who in one moment is running to Jesus and kneeling at his feet and the next minute is walking away from Jesus with sadness in his heart. I want us to look for a few minutes and notice not the bad qualities, but the good qualities this young man presents, and then let us look at some lessons to be learned.

The Young Man’s Good Qualities

NOTE: The first five qualities are in verse 17.

  1. He was EAGER

He came running to Jesus. He apparently made up his mind he must get to Jesus, and no time must be lost. He felt the urgency to get to Jesus the right way. He must have already asked friends and family and they did not have the answer. He knew Jesus had the answer. This young man was eager.

  1. He was HUMBLE

What made him humble is he knelt before Jesus. He knew Jesus commanded respect. He possibly knew of Jesus’ authority as did the Roman Centurion in Matthew 8:5-13. This was unusual because of the difference in the social circles between him and Jesus. In First Century Israel, no middle class existed, so here was the rich and powerful young man who knelt before Jesus, a man related to the common people.

  1. He had COURAGE

He came to Jesus when no one else would. Here was a man who was wealthy, young, and a ruler running to a group of poor and uneducated men for answers. It took this young man courage to come to Jesus because of his social status being a ruler and what would people think about a ruler running to someone for answers to his questions?


He called Jesus “Good Teacher.” Some version of the Bible uses the terms “Master” or “Rabbi,” which means teacher. He saw in Jesus what many failed to see, which is the goodness and holiness of God. Remember, Jesus is God in the flesh (John 14:7). He showed reverence for what he saw.

NOTE: Some versions of the Bible equate discernment, admiration, and devotion to the word reverence.


The key phrase for why he had spirituality is, “What shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?” He was concerned about his own spirituality. He came with a solemn, urgent, vital, and spiritual question.

Here is a man who believes in heaven and hell and he knew where he wanted to spend eternity, so he approached Jesus because he knew in his heart that Jesus knew the right answer to his question. Notice nobody, in his life, approached him about eternal life. So again, he went to Jesus to find the answer as he was called by God for service.

  1. He claimed he was MORALLY CLEAN – vs.20

If he were morally clean, he would have no bad habits to stain him and no shady past. He was not some sassy, hippy, free-loving, rebel. He would make a good citizen and fine neighbor. The type of man a city council would want for their mayor. Parents would like to see their daughters marry this type of man. Many churches would put him into a church office such as a deacon or elder.

Unfortunately, no one but Jesus was morally clean. Jesus initially seems to agree with His framework in verse 19, “Do well and you will inherit the kingdom.” Jesus is about to show this young man how far short he falls by keeping the most important commandment, which we will get to in a few minutes.

  1. He was RELIGIOUS – vs.19-20

He was Religious but lost. He fasted, tithed, went to church, and knew the Mosaic Law, but was not born again (grace). He was living under the wrong covenant. He was relying on the works he could do, which no one could uphold but Jesus. He should be living under grace through Jesus. He had a hunger in his soul but he was not saved.

Most people in churches today think they are saved because of their works. We cannot put our faith in our works in order to achieve salvation. The young man knew this could be true because he knew there was something more.

  1. He was WEALTHY – vs.22

Money does not bring happiness. The Bible does not condemn money but the love of it (1 Timothy 6:10). What possibilities this man’s wealth could have done for the Kingdom of God had it been dedicated and put to work for the glory of God?

  1. He was YOUNG – Matthew 19:20

Matthew 19:20 tells us he was young and came to Jesus. He did not want to sow his wild oats first and then turn to God. He came with his youth and the possibility of years of service for the kingdom. Most people are saved in their youth. Solomon in Ecclesiastes 12:1 said, “Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth.” Someone years ago said the devil has no happy old people.

  1. He was of SOCIAL STATUS – Luke 18:18

Luke 18:18 tells us he was a ruler or a person of authority. Many forsake God for social prestige, power, and popularity. Here is a person of authority willing to fall at the feet of a carpenter’s son. Because of his position, if he had given his HEART to Jesus, imagine how many more under his authority could also give their HEART to Jesus.

  1. He had GOOD SENSE

He went to the right place, seeking the right thing, at the right time. He came running to Jesus while most today run with the world that is against God. Either you are running with the devil or you are butting heads with him.

Three Lessons Learned from the Rich Young Ruler

Lesson #1 – Basic Needs Not Always Satisfied

The first lesson learned is that the basic needs of people cannot be satisfied by the possessions of fame, fortune, or anything in this life. This world will not satisfy anyone’s soul and heart.

Lesson #2 – Limited Time on Opportunities

The second lesson learned in this passage shows us something about our opportunities as they don’t last forever. Most opportunities are for a limited time only. The young man stood at the gates of heaven and then walked away. He came running to Jesus and went away sad. Opportunities once rejected seldom ever return. Every day you reject Jesus increases the possibility you will be lost forever.

I think of Felix in Acts 24:25, “When I have a convenient time I will call for you” or Herod Agrippa II in Acts 26:28, “You almost persuade me to become a Christian.” Felix was dethroned and missed his blessing and prosperity from God. Herod Agrippa II died a childless, lonely old man.

Lesson #3 – You Had Only One Thing to Do

The third lesson learned is that usually only one thing keeps a person from accepting Christ and we find it in verse 21, “One thing you lack.” He lacked the willingness to put Christ first as God requires of all of us. Jesus put His finger on the spot. He loved his possessions and it was too big to surrender. Jesus spoke lovingly to this young man’s heart as He told him that he only lacked one thing.

He replaced direct trust in God and its reward, treasures in heaven, with earthly riches. He failed the first commandment in Exodus 20:3, “You shall have no other gods before me” and the tenth commandment in Exodus 20:17, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

It does not mean we must sell all we have to follow Jesus. It means to focus our hearts on God and every possession yielded to God, results in possessions will be handled as a form of stewardship. We must give God all the glory for our possessions as He gives us blessings to bless others.


Take a good look at what he was offered:

  • The answer to his question is eternal life
  • To live in heaven, forever

In contrast, look at what he refused. He refused it all.

Look at Jesus as He begins to lead this young man step by step into what he must do. He passed all the requirements. If he would have taken one more step, he would have been saved. If he would just step over that line and surrender, what joy for all eternity would be his?

Do you see yourself in the same position? You come to church or watch this video, hear all about Jesus, but walk away. How else do you see yourself?

What Ever Happened to the Rich Young Ruler?

Let us take one more look at the Rich Young Ruler. “Where did he go?” Did he go to his friends for answers? Apparently, they did not have the answers he was looking for, so he sought out Jesus. He went back to his old lifestyle and we doubt if he found satisfaction there, because he walked away with sorrow in his heart. The problem with wealth, without eyes focused on Jesus, can lead to self-pridefulness and self-righteousness found in 1 John 2:15-17.

Did he go to heaven?” Come on now, I appeal to your knowledge of scripture. Remember, he came to Jesus and he walked away, sorrowfully. He left heaven when he left Jesus.

If you could climb the steps of gold, enter the gates of pearl, walk the golden streets, and search for this young man, it would be in vain. If you looked through the many mansions or among the multitude that no man can number you will not find this young man.

He is not there! How sad that amid the fires of hell dwells one who once ran to Jesus, fell at his feet, and asked, “Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?” Jesus gave him the answer to his question and he just walked away.

I am Dale Van De Bogart and I fully agree on God’s Word!

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