Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Rich Young Man

Matthew 19 (my comments in italics)

16Now a man came up to Jesus and asked, "Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?" (He presumes that eternal life is obtained by doing good things)

17"Why do you ask me about what is good?" Jesus replied. "There is only One who is good. (Jesus did not answer his question directly. Instead he tells him that it is not what we do, but what we are that is important. Are we good? Only God is, because ultimately we all fall short of God's standard) If you want to enter life, obey the commandments."

18"Which ones?" the man inquired.

Jesus replied, " 'Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, 19honor your father and mother, and 'love your neighbor as yourself."

20"All these I have kept," the young man said. "What do I still lack?"(He still thinks he can earn his way to heaven by doing good)

21Jesus answered, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."(1. Jesus implies that the young man could do even better by getting rid of his possessions; 2. Jesus did not tell him that if he got rid of his possessions he will qualify for heaven. He only said that he can exchange earthly treasure for heavenly treasure; 3. Not just giving away his wealth, but next to follow Christ. That is what the young man must do if he wants to go beyond what he has been doing)

22When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth. (Obviously Jesus knew his heart well. The young man has done all the praiseworthy things, but in his heart he still holds on dearly to his earthly treasure.)

23Then Jesus said to his disciples, "I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."

25When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, "Who then can be saved?"

26Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible." (Jesus says it is impossible for man to save himself)

(Note that in verse 17 Jesus says that to gain eternal life one must obey the commandments. Yet in verse 26, he says it is impossible for man to save himself from eternal damnation. I believe that ultimately salvation cannot be filtered down to a set of rules that will clearly spell out who is in and who is out. The only clear answer is "follow me (Christ)". We are like wanderers in the dark and Christ leads the way because he knows how to get there).

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