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The Rich Young Ruler

One of the great leadership examples in all the scripture is the story of the rich young ruler. Jesus shows leadership in Matthew 19:16-22 by modeling the path to eternal life for His disciples. We see this by using the inner textural approach of Socio-Rhetorical Analysis which asks: What are the repetitions, patterns, structures, devices used? In this passage we see the will (vs 17 & 21) surrounding the question of obedience when it revolves around the commandments (vs17-20). This sets the stage for Jesus to differentiate works from grace by pushing past fleshly obedience and emphasizing the heart (vs 20-21). Notice also that the young man came to Christ on the terms of works (vs 16) but went away from Him when heart surrender was the requisite (vs 22).

Notice the pattern:
He comes (vs 16)
If you will (vs 17)
Keep commandments (vs 17)
Commandments (vs 18-19)
Kept commandments (vs 20)…….Works vs Grace (Eph. 2:8-9)
If you will (vs 21)………………..Heart (Matthew 6:21)
He goes (vs 22)

Latter on Jesus contrasts this pattern with the calling of His followers by allowing them to see that their heart surrender was evident by their willingness (unlike the rich young ruler) to “forsake all and follow you”. (Matt. 19:27) This leadership example serves as a model of commitment with an emphasis on grace. God help us to follow!