Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life ?”
“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.”
“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, honor your father and mother,’ and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’”
“All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?”
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.”
When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. 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.”
When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, “Who then can be saved?”
Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
Peter answered him, “We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?”
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. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.
Jesus tested the rich young man in his weakest and most vulnerable area—his wealth. Jesus was exposing the source that the young man believed to be his security and the one thing that was really keeping him from following God. The man wished that he could do some kind of “good thing” to get eternal life. But spiritual salvation is not a matter of our own good works; it is a matter of surrendering to Christ’s leadership. In this case, the young man was not willing to put Christ above his possessions. Does Christ’s statement mean that all believers should sell or get rid of their possessions? No, there is not necessarily anything wrong with having nice things as long as they do not get in the way of our relationship with God. He also expects us to provide for the needs of our families and others. However, we must be willing to give up anything that Christ asks of us because he knows what is best for us. Our commitment to him can be nothing less.
Which leads to the statement that Jesus ended his teaching on the rich and the kingdom of God with, “But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.” The “first” are those who, because of their wealth, education, status, talents or opportunities, are highly esteemed or honored by the world and sometimes even by the church. The “last” are those who are not known by many or who do not have a high social status in the community. In the final assessment of God’s kingdom, “many” who were considered to be great leaders and participants in the church will be given positions behind others, while many who were unknown in the world will be given positions of higher honor. This is because God values people not by outward appearance, but by the true faithfulness, purity and love of their hearts.
Tomorrow’s Bible Readings:
Exodus 10:1-12:13, Matthew 20:1-28, Psalm 25:1-15 and Proverbs 6:6-11