Matthew 19:16–26 also Mark 10:17–27; Luke 18:18–27
Rich Young Ruler
16 Now behold, one came and said to Him, “Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?”
17 So He said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.”
18 He said to Him, “Which ones?”
Jesus said, “ ‘You shall not murder,’ ‘You shall not commit adultery,’ ‘You shall not steal,’ ‘You shall not bear false witness,’ 19 ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ ”
20 The young man said to Him, “All these things I have kept from my youth. What do I still lack?”
21 Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”
22 But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.
23 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “Assuredly, I say to you that it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 And again I say to 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.”
25 When His disciples heard it, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?”
26 But Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
Bible Knowledge Commentary – Matthew 19:16-26
19:16–22. A man who was young (v. 20), wealthy (v. 22) and a ruler (Luke 18:18; perhaps of the Sanhedrin) came and asked Jesus, Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life? This ruler was not asking how he could earn salvation. Instead, he wondered how he could be assured of entering Messiah’s kingdom. He wanted to know what “good thing” (work) would demonstrate that he was righteous and therefore qualified for the kingdom. Jesus replied, There is only One who is good, namely, God. Perfection is required (Matt. 5:48; cf. 19:21); therefore one must be as good as God. He must have God’s righteousness, which comes through faith in Him (Rom. 4:5). Perhaps Jesus then waited for a response from the ruler to see if he would affirm his belief that Jesus is God, that Jesus, being one with the Father, is good (agathos, “intrinsically good”).
When the man did not reply, Jesus indicated that life (i.e., life in God’s kingdom) can be entered only if one gives evidence that he is righteous. Since the official standard of righteousness was the Law of Moses, Jesus told the man to obey the commandments. The ruler was perceptive for he immediately asked, Which ones? Other standards of righteousness were being promoted by the Pharisees, who had added to Moses’ commandments far beyond God’s intention. The young man was in effect asking Jesus, “Must I keep all the Pharisees’ commandments?” Jesus replied by repeating several of the commandments from the second table of the Law, the 5th through the 9th commandments forbidding murder … adultery, stealing, giving false testimony, and also the positive command to honor one’s parents (Ex. 20:12–16). Jesus did not mention the 10th commandment (Ex. 20:17) concerning coveting, but He did add the summary statement, Love your neighbor as yourself (cf. Lev. 19:18; Matt. 22:39; Rom. 13:9; Gal. 5:14; James 2:8).
The young man affirmed he had kept all these things, but he still sensed a lack (Matt. 19:20). Whether he had truly kept these commands, only God knows. The young man believed he had and yet he knew something was missing in his life. Jesus put His finger on his problem when He told him to go, sell all his possessions and give to the poor, and he would then have treasure in heaven. Such mercy toward the poor would demonstrate inner righteousness. If he were righteous (based on faith in Jesus as God), he should have given his wealth to the poor and followed Jesus. But instead, the man … went away sad (lypoumenos, “grieved or sad to the point of distress”; cf. 14:9; 18:31) for he had great wealth. His unwillingness to relinquish his wealth showed he did not love his neighbor as himself. Thus he had not kept all the commandments, and he lacked salvation. Nothing more was written about this young man; probably he never left all and followed Jesus. He loved his money more than God, and thus he violated even the first commandment (Ex. 20:3).
19:23–26. The incident with the young ruler prompted a brief message from Jesus to His disciples. He remarked how difficult it is for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. In fact Jesus said it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle. Since the man was trusting his riches rather than the Lord to save him, he could no more enter the kingdom than a camel (one of the largest animals used by Jews) could go through “the eye of a needle” (rhaphidos, a sewing needle; not a small gate within another gate as is sometimes suggested). This needle’s eye was an extremely small opening. The astonished disciples asked, Who then can be saved? This showed the Pharisees’ influence on them, for the Pharisees said God bestows wealth on those He loves. So if a wealthy person cannot make it into the kingdom, seemingly no one can! Jesus answered that salvation is a work of God. What appears to be impossible with men is what God delights to do (cf. 17:20).
A young rich man came to Jesus and asked what he could to achieve eternal life. Jesus told him: “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” , “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven and come, follow Me.” The young rich man went away sorrowful. Jesus said, I say to 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.
God is testing us every day and has given us the right to make our own choices. Do you know which ones are the right choices in Gods mind?
Fear God, love God, honor God, and trust God with all your heart, mind and soul and you will receive and experience the joy of the promises of God’s blessings in His time. And always remember to ask the Father for His help and guidance in all things.
Prayer: Father, blessed is your Holy name. We praise you for your Son and the Holy Spirit. Human words cannot describe how grateful we are for Your Son and our risen Christ. We praise You for the opportunity to be able to choose Jesus as our Lord and Savior and to be elect children of Yours. We praise you for the laws You have set down to teach us and keep our life in harmony, safe, how to treat others as well as how to live within you boundaries. Please bless those who have read this article for they too are seeking Your righteous truth, love, wisdom and understanding. I pray these brothers and sisters have or will come to realize that Your existence is a treasure of grace and love that You have for all Your elect children.
May God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit and Christianity be our guiding lights for eternity. Let it be Your will Lord not mine. Please come Lord Jesus.
I pray in Jesus sweet name and to His glory through the power of The Holy Spirit,