In verses 13-30 of Matthew 19, we have Jesus counseling disciples, a young rich man and the apostles. The wisdom that Christ hands down in this passage could only have come from Him, as it reveals knowledge of God and His judgment.
Verses 13-15 are an echo of the subject we studied recently of how we are to be as little children if we are to enter God’s kingdom. The disciples were preventing the children from coming to Jesus but Jesus allowed it. Retaining innocence and assuming good intent as children do is an attribute that God expects of us as His children.
Verses 16-22 comprise a memorable story and if you have not read about the rich young ruler until now, enjoy it!
Jesus is approached by a young and wealthy man that wants to know what he has to do to be saved. This is a worthwhile question, one we all have, and it is easy to see asking Jesus for the answer as Jesus has the authority. For the rich young ruler, it gets personal quickly and his zeal to serve God does not quite overtake the zeal he has for his possessions. Even though he has followed all of the commandments, he is unable to surrender completely to God because of his love for worldly things and material possessions.
It is a sad story. The young man is earnest in his love for God and we can see that he truly wants to serve the Lord. But he is still holding back. In his heart, he has not completely put God in the center.
This makes us look at ourselves and ask:
– Is there something Christ would ask me to give up on in order to be saved?
– If yes, what is it?
– Would I be willing to give it up today?
And most importantly . . .
– Why not give it up now?
Because if there is something keeping me from serving the Lord, I am better off now and in the long run to jettison it from my life. And it could be anything sinful: alcohol, cursing, greed, jealousy, holding a grudge, etc. I urge you to make it your goal today to not have anything standing in between you and your desire to serve God. The story of the rich young ruler and Jesus is in our Bible for a reason, after all.
The final passage for tonight is verses 23-30. In this exchange between Jesus and the apostles, Jesus teaches grace. It is impossible for man to earn his way into heaven, because each of us has knowingly sinned and rejected God at one time or another. But with God’s grace, forgiveness is extended to us through the sacrifice of His Son. This grace allows for rich men to enter God’s kingdom even in the midst of all the temptation and materialism that comes from being wealthy. Salvation is by no means automatic, and requires belief, faith, baptism and effort. Once we enter into that holy relationship with God through Jesus, we have access to this grace. What an amazing thing!
That is why we, as sinners, always have a reason to be happy. We have our great God who loves and accepts and cares for us, even though we are unworthy.
To conclude tonight, let us resolve to live and love with humility. Let us forgive one another and endeavor to serve God’s interests and the well-being of others.