Mighty God, when I think of your gifts of nature and grace, I gladly and joyfully give praise and thanks to you.
Read MATTHEW 19:16–30
The Rich and the Kingdom of God
16 Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”
17 “Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.”
18 “Which ones?” he inquired.
Jesus replied, “‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, 19 honor your father and mother,’[a] and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’[b]”
20 “All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?”
21 Jesus 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.”
22 When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.
23 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”
25 When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, “Who then can be saved?”
26 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
27 Peter answered him, “We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?”
28 Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife[c] or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life. 30 But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectConsider the many blessings you have received from God; praise him for his goodness.
Normally, we come to the Bible eager to understand its meaning. However, when it comes to this passage, many of us may rush to state what it doesn’t mean! Jesus, we console ourselves, doesn’t call all those who follow him to surrender their wealth and possessions, just this particular individual (v 21). Our familiarity with these verses has perhaps bred contempt for the rich man – surely, one so wealthy could not possibly be disciple material. The judgment that someone else, because they have more money than we do, is more compromised in their commitment to Christ than we are, is all too easily made.
The disciples made the opposite assumption. Their astonishment at Jesus’ assertion about how hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of heaven (v 25) indicates that they regarded this man as an ideal candidate for discipleship.
Both assumptions are wrong, because neither leaves room for the goodness and grace of God. Entry into life in all its fullness rests not on human endeavor or material blessings, but in the hands of God. Since all things are possible with God (v 26), both rich and poor alike may attain the necessary detachment from wealth that permits complete devotion to Christ.
‘That Jesus did not command all his followers to sell all their possessions gives comfort only to the kind of people to whom he would issue that command!’* Share your feelings about today’s passage with God now.
Lord, your grace and love is amazing. You are not bound by my limited understanding, so I thank you for the wideness of your kingdom.
*R. H. Gundry, Matthew: A Commentary on His Literary and Theological Art (Michigan: Wm. B Eerdmans, 1982).
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