They could not believe what they had just seen. The rich young ruler slowly walked away. He had come to Jesus asking how he could be saved, but now, knowing he could not do what the Lord required of him, he turned and headed in the opposite direction.
It was not that his wealth was inherently evil. The young man insisted that he had kept all the commandments from his youth, and the Lord’s response was as if to say: “So you have kept all the commandments? Then let’s begin with the first. If money is not your god, let it go.” Aware of his idolatry, the young man sadly walked away.
As the disciples stood in awed silence, Jesus went on to explain to them how difficult it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God: “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle. . . .”
Having wrongly assumed that those with wealth enjoy special favor with God, the disciples asked, “Then who can be saved?” Jesus assured them that what is impossible with man is possible with God.
It was then that Peter said, “Lord, we have left everything and followed you.”
Implicit in his statement was the question, “Is there a reward in forsaking everything to follow you, Lord?” Peter and the other disciples may not have had an abundance of riches when the Lord called them to follow Him, but what they had, they left behind.