What Jesus said to the rich young ruler (Luke 18:22, Matthew 19:21, Mark 10:21) was, “Sell everything you have, give it to the poor, and you will have treasure in Heaven. Then come, follow me.”
What He said about the rich young ruler was, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” (Mark 10:25)
People who were not able to discern the difference between entering the Kingdom and going to Heaven invented explanations for Jesus’ theology. One is that there is a small gate somewhere in Jerusalem called the “eye of the needle” that He was talking about. There isn’t one, though. Another is that there was a miscopy by a scribe and a similar word to Greek for “camel” is one that means “rope.” No improvement there…
Another misinterpretation is that God hates His people being rich, so being rich means you can’t go to heaven. Since He wasn’t talking about going to Heaven (He didn’t invite the young man to Heaven, but to the Kingdom…) this one is irrelevant.
The “Spirit Filled Life Bible” says that “The Jew saw wealth as a mark of God’s favor and thought it inconceivable that riches would be a hindrance to kingdom life. Jesus shows the fallacy of such a view and uses it to teach through exaggeration that it is impossible for one who trusts in riches to enter heaven. Human achievement cannot attain salvation; only God has the power to bestow it.” Same mistake…
The young man wanted eternal life. Jesus offered him immediate life. If Jesus had been answering the question as it was asked, instead of the question that should have been asked, He would not have given the answer, “If you want to go to heaven, give away all your stuff and you will be saved.”
Just as Jesus directed Nicodemus when he came to Him in the time recorded by John 3, He answers us with what we need to be asking when we approach Him. His response to the ruler was to confirm to him that the law came with a blessing of life, but now the Kingdom is available to you as a higher calling. Keep your treasure for later by giving it away, and don’t value anything more than obeying me as a King.