Matthew 19:13-30, August 16, 2020
Little Children & Riches and Heaven
19:13-15 Little Children. You may see little or no connection between these verses and the prior section on marriage and divorce. However, it should be obvious that one of the evils of divorce is the impact on the children of a destroyed marriage. Here we have parents, who else would the people be, bringing little children to Jesus for Him to place His hands on them and pray for them. The same story is in Mark and Luke. The major point of this short passage – all of 3 verses – is the great importance Jesus placed on children.
His disciples did not get it, at least initially, as they had the same values of the time which placed little value in children. The children freely came to Him as they somehow saw in Him someone who loved them and cared for them. Jesus, a friend of sinners, was also a friend of children. The children came to Him.
It is apparent a child may choose to follow Jesus as well. Most of us have seen childhood professions of faith. Some are genuine, some are not. Still, it was not until Jesus had placed His hands on them and blessed them before He went on His way.
19:16-22 Young Rich Man. Compare this young rich man to the children. The children came to Jesus because they recognized something in Him that loved them. The young rich man came seeking something – eternal life. In his first words to Jesus he is asking how he can earn his salvation and eternal life by doing some one good thing. Jesus sought to let the young man know how serious the question was by pointing out there is only one who is Good and that one is God. Then with no response He continued by saying If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.
The young man could not wait for Jesus to finish and immediately asked which ones as if there were some more important than others. So, Jesus listed five from the ten commandments and one Leviticus 19:8 love your neighbor as yourself which He knew the young man could not keep.
Without waiting to see if there were more the young man interrupted Jesus, probably excited, saying All these I have kept. What do I still lack? Incredible arrogance and self-righteousness exhibited here.
Do you notice a paradox of sorts here? He says he has kept all the commandments – an impossibility – but still believes there is something else he must do. He has an uneasy conscience likely brought on from a belief of goodness as a series of good acts – what we would call quantitative or measurable. Instead goodness is qualitative, that is of the nature of God or not of the nature of God. The list of commands Jesus gave in v18 centered on outward duties rather than one’s inward nature or one’s heart.
As a result, Jesus called him out in verse 21 giving revealing the young rich man’s weaknesses. When he realized he could not do it he simply went away and went away sad. No questions, no protests. He knew he had failed. Jesus later in Matthew names the two most important commandments and the young man failed on both. He loved himself and his possessions more than the poor and he loved his possessions more than he loved God, evidenced by his inability or refusal to follow Jesus.
19:23-26 The Rich and Heaven. Here Jesus corrects a common misconception of the time that to some degree continues to our time as well. Namely the erroneous belief that the rich are blessed by God and therefore certainly saved. Notice Jesus did not say it was impossible, but hard or not easily accomplished. The example he gave showed just how hard it could be.
Of course, the disciples believing as most did in their time asked Who then can be saved? Jesus answer must have floored them as it directly implied the salvation of the rich sinner is just as much a miracle as the salvation of the poor sinner.
19:27-30 What about us? Jesus has just provided an incredible answer in v26 and Peter asks a question still focused on the problem of the rich man getting into heaven. When he says We have left everything to follow you! And then asks What then will there be for us? Jesus gives the most incredible answer – a prophesy of the millennial kingdom. Then in v29 rewards beyond eternal life. The last verse -30 – is an introduction to the parable of the laborers in the next chapter. So many make a deal with God planning on being first, but end up being last compared to those who simply came without making a deal.
Bottom Line: There is no earning our way into heaven. We must simply come to Jesus like the children did. As His disciples did initially because He is the Messiah. That was enough for them. Is it enough for us?