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The Upside-down Kingdom

Luke 18:15-30 – The Upside-down Kingdom


Nowhere in Scripture is the costliness of attaining entry into God’s Kingdom so clearly displayed than in the story of the rich young ruler. As he approached Jesus, the disciples must have thought it obvious that this kind of person would make an ideal recruit. Not only was he young, rich and a man of influence, but he also had a good moral record and seemed ambitious to do whatever it took to gain eternal life. Surely, any religious movement would be licking its lips at such a prospect and would go to great lengths to gain such a member.

Yet Jesus, instead of embracing him enthusiastically, sends him away with his tail between his legs. What in the world was he thinking? What is the Kingdom of God about if it is not interested in such a prime candidate as this? 

What needs to be realized is that the Kingdom of God is not what one would naturally expect. It is not ordered by the same rules of any of our earthly governments. In fact, Jesus himself clearly stated that the Kingdom of God, His Kingdom, is not of this world (John 18:36). It is, in a very real sense, other worldly. For this reason it is sometimes referred to as the Upside-down Kingdom, in that it is a Kingdom where the King dies for his subjects and to be the greatest is to be the least and the servant of all.

The rich young ruler had everything except eternal life. He wanted to partake of the Kingdom but was unwilling to lay aside that which was hindering his entry, namely, his love of riches. 

At the end of the day, to enter God’s eternal Kingdom and to take hold of the life that it truly life (cf. 1 Timothy 6:19b), one must let go of anything that gets in the way. For the rich young ruler it was his many possessions. What is it for you? What do you need to give up, in order to follow Jesus to the cross and beyond, even to eternal life?        


Luke 18:15-30

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

Jesus Blesses Little Children

15 People were bringing even infants to him that he might touch them; and when the disciples saw it, they sternly ordered them not to do it. 16 But Jesus called for them and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. 17 Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.”

The Rich Ruler

18 A certain ruler asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 19 Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. 20 You know the commandments: ‘You shall not commit adultery; You shall not murder; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; Honor your father and mother.’” 21 He replied, “I have kept all these since my youth.” 22 When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “There is still one thing lacking. Sell all that you own and distribute the money[a] to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” 23 But when he heard this, he became sad; for he was very rich. 24 Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God! 25 Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

26 Those who heard it said, “Then who can be saved?” 27 He replied, “What is impossible for mortals is possible for God.”

28 Then Peter said, “Look, we have left our homes and followed you.” 29 And he said to them, “Truly I tell you, there is no one who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, 30 who will not get back very much more in this age, and in the age to come eternal life.”