Amiel: A Rich Young Ruler

My name is Amiel. My home is in the town of Julias in the district of Peraea. Peraea lies along the eastern side of the Jordan River, just north of the Dead Sea. I am known as the ruler of Julias because my family owns most of the property in this village. My father and grandfather oversee more extensive holdings all across Peraea. When I reached the age of sixteen, my grandfather put me in charge of the village of Julias so I could learn to manage property.

Some travelers passing through my village told me about a Galilean named Jesus. They said He was teaching about Jehovah and heaven when they went through Jericho. I decided to go to Jericho to look for this teacher to see if He could answer my questions about heaven. When I found Him, I joined a group of Pharisees who were questioning Jesus about divorce and the coming of the Kingdom of God. As they finished, I asked my question, "Good Teacher, what must I do to enter heaven?"

Jesus said, "Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments: 'Do not murder. Do not commit adultery. Do not steal. Do not bear false witness. Do not defraud. Honor your father and mother.'"

I felt relieved and assured of a place in heaven since I had observed all these things since my youth. As I looked into Jesus' compassionate eyes, I felt His love for me. I was unprepared, however, for the next words spoken: "One thing you lack; go, and sell all you possess, and give to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me."

My shoulders drooped and my face fell in sadness, for I owned much property. A little embarrassed, I moved away from the crowd and the group of Pharisees who had been questioning Jesus. I could not bring myself to look at Jesus, but I could clearly hear His voice as He talked to His men: "How hard it will be for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God. It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."

Just as I was beginning to be overcome by complete hopelessness, I heard Jesus say to His disciples, "With men it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God."

Were these words said to offer me some hope? Wanting to think over what He had said, I found a large rock and sat down. After awhile, one of Jesus' men sat down beside me, but I didn't look up. In the background Jesus continued to instruct His disciples about giving and receiving. The one who had joined me laid his hand on my shoulder and said, "My name is Andrew. I have been traveling with Jesus and listening to Him teach across Galilee and now Judea."

I turned to Andrew and asked, "What must I do? I thought my riches were a sign that I was in God's favor."

"No, Amiel, eternal life is equally available for the poor and the rich. Both must be good stewards of whatever they have. But more importantly you must give God first place in your life, not your material wealth. If this means giving everything to the poor, then that's what you must do."

"Now I see why Jesus says it is hard."

"The twelve apostles have left a house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or farms for Jesus' sake. Jesus said, 'For this you shall receive rewards both here and in heaven where many who are first will be last, and where the last will be first.'"

"Andrew, I admire you for what you have given up for Jesus. I hope I will have the courage to do the same."

Based on Mark 10:17-31; Matthew 19:16-30; Luke 18:18-30.

Copyright 1997 by John C. Westervelt

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