Matthew Chapter 19- Part 3B
A rich young man, the rich and salvation, temporal and eternal rewards- Read (Matthew 19:16-29) (Mark 10:17-30) (Luke 18:18-30)
Jesus here tells the man who called him "Good teacher", that there is a great difference between man's standard of goodness and God's standard of goodness and from his view point when comparing humans with God, God alone is good, for all goodness flows from God to his creation.
The rich man drew Jesus in to a conversation and Jesus told him what the Law required for one to gain eternal life and he answered that he had complied with all that since long. He persisted in questioning Jesus as to what he lacked even though he was keeping all the commandments, implying that he still did not believe that he would inherit eternal life because of all that he was doing. So Jesus told him what it was that hindered him from being sure of his salvation. It was his love for his riches. That exceeded his love for God and it had to be put away. Jesus said, "One thing you lack; 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, taking up the cross." But when the young man heard that, he went away sad, for he had great possessions. Sadly this is true in every generation; people love the one true God and desire to follow him, but cannot give up their love for riches and some hoard it to a great extent, living with fear and insecurity.
Jesus did not say that the rich would not enter the Kingdom of Heaven; what he said was, "It is hard for those who trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through a needle's eye, than for a rich man to enter into the Kingdom of God." Jesus spoke a proverb here to express an impossibility. The Talmud (a central text of Rabbinic Judaism) gives the parallel phrase of an elephant passing through a needle’s eye. In some Syrian cities, the narrow gate for foot-passengers, at the side of the larger gate by which wagons, camels and other beasts of burden enter is known as the “needle’s eye,” and if a camel had to go through the needle's eye gate, it had to bend it's neck low and it's body as well, which would become a difficult and often impossible task for the animal.
When the disciples heard that it was hard for those who trust in riches to enter the kingdom of God, they were astonished and said, "Who then can be saved?" Jesus replied, "With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible." Salvation is a gift of God. We can work towards the salvation of a person, but it's the work of the Holy Spirit of God that accomplishes the task.
To be contd...in next lesson