Luke 18:18-30 tells us the very familiar story of a “rich young ruler” who asks Jesus “what must I do to obtain eternal life?” (v. 18 CEB). We may be tempted to see this passage exclusively as way of addressing the dangers of wealth or material possession. However, that would fall short of truly hearing the words of Jesus and understanding the profundity of his statement in v. 27. Jesus is speaking of that which money cannot buy. He is is referring to the precious gift that can only be received by grace through faith; the pearl of great and value and the treasure hidden in a field that drives one to gladly sell all possessions to purchase it. Jesus is speaking of salvation.
The rich ruler counted on his own righteousness to receive eternal life. One could imagine the ruler’s pride when Jesus lists the commandments and he can proudly answer “I’ve kept all of these things since I was a boy.” (v. 21) But as Jesus pointed out, still he lacked—Each of us must examine our hearts for that which we still lack. While money may not be that which we hold most precious, each of us must search our hearts with the clear understanding that through God we have the power to overcome our limitations. Jesus declares that we can move beyond the bounds of our limits and claim that which only God can give us, eternal life.