A certain ruler asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
“Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘You shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.’”
“All these I have kept since I was a boy,” he said.
When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was very wealthy. Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! Indeed, 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.”
Those who heard this asked, “Who then can be saved?”
Jesus replied, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.”
Peter said to him, “We have left all we had to follow you!”
“Truly I tell you,” Jesus said to them, “no one who has left home or wife or brothers or sisters or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God will fail to receive many times as much in this age, and in the age to come eternal life.”
In today’s passage we see Jesus’ meeting with a rich young ruler. And this rich young ruler was under the impression that eternal life could be earned by works. But Jesus shifted the focus of this conversation by asserting that goodness only comes from God. Either the young man had kept all the commandments listed in verse 20 or Jesus preferred not to argue about that, and it is more likely that Jesus chose not to agree about it since his follow-up command revealed that the young man was more interested in wealth than treasure in heaven. His unwillingness to distribute his wealth to the poor kept him from becoming Jesus’ disciple.
Jesus then contradicted the conventional wisdom that those with wealth were blessed by God and would certainly be in his kingdom. And he did this through the proverbial saying about camels going through the eye of a needle, which was another way of saying that something was impossible. And that explains the question from Jesus’ original audience. And Jesus response to this question was that people cannot be saved by their own efforts but only by salvation that comes by God’s grace.
Tomorrow’s Bible Readings:
Joshua 16-18, Luke 19:1-27, Psalm 87:1-7 and Proverbs 13:11
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