The Unspoken Commandments

I had an interesting observation last week while one of our ministers was teaching about the cost of discipleship. He mentioned the rich young ruler, and how he had followed the commandments, but still was lacking. I started to count the commandments Jesus listed, and it dawned on me that it was an impartial list! So I wondered, “what were the ones He left out?” Hence, the following thoughts…

In the accounts of the Rich Young Ruler, described by three of the Gospel writers, we see a man who asks the question, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

Jesus first explains to him that there is “none good but God”, setting the stage for this man to have a revelation of who Jesus really was, then he presents a list of commandments. Notice, however, that Jesus didn’t give a full list of all ten commandments, but rather a subset of them. The young man verifies that he has, indeed, kept those commandments… notice which ones Jesus accentuated:

Matthew 19:18-19
1 – Thou shalt do no murder
2 – Thou shalt not commit adultery
3 – Thou shalt not steal
4 – Thou shalt not bear false witness
5 – Honour thy father and thy mother
(6 – Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.) Quoted from Leviticus 19:18

Luke 18:20
1 – Do not commit adultery
2 – Do not kill
3 – Do not steal
4 – Do not bear false witness
5 – Honour thy father and thy mother.

Mark 10:19
1 – Do not commit adultery
2 – Do not kill
3 – Do not steal
4 – Do not bear false witness
(5 – Defraud not) Allusion to Deuteronomy 24:14
6 – Honour thy father and mother.

It is interesting that in each of the three Gospel narratives, Jesus only includes five of the ten commandments… the ones the man didn’t have a problem with. (Matthew and Mark both include an extra which is not in the original ten.) However, what is most intriguing is the partial list of commandments that are not included.

Jesus knew he had done well, but still there was something lacking that could be wrapped up completely in this rich man’s unspoken refusal to put God first. Though the young man was quick to agree with Jesus that he had, “followed the commandments”, the fact is he had only followed some of them. The outstanding five were of utmost importance and, in fact, it appears they were the crux of the man’s issues.

Notice the Commandments that were NOT LISTED by Jesus:
1 – Have no other gods before me (was mammon his god?)
2 – Make no idols to worship (possessions his items of worship?)
3 – Not take God’s name in vain (his apparent disregard for God in his speech, or actions? Isaiah 29:13)
4 – Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy (working every day in his quest for gain?)
5 – Not covet your neighbor’s possessions (His pursuit of riches driven by jealousy and greed?)

These five commandments appear to be the true problems in this man’s life. He instructs the man to “sell everything you have and give it to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.” Jesus summed up those missing five commandments in his last statement, “…then come, follow me.” Remember that Jesus started his initial response by saying, “there is none good but God.” Now He reveals to the man that, to fulfill all five of the other commandments was to follow Jesus… the One true God.