Matthew 19:16-26 BLB - What Is Required?
B. Jesus teaches on riches and following Him.
1. (Mat 19:16-17) A man asks Jesus about gaining eternal life.
 Now behold, one came and said to Him, "Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?"  So He said to him, "Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments."
a. What good thing shall I do to inherit eternal life: This question demonstrates that this man, like all people by nature, had an orientation towards earning eternal life. He wanted to know what good work or noble deed he could do to inherit eternal life.
i. All three gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) tell us this man was rich. Matthew tells us he was young (Matthew 19:22), and Luke tells us he was a ruler.
b. Why do you call Me good? In this, Jesus did not deny His own goodness. Instead, He asked the man, "Do you understand what you are saying when you call Me good?"
i. It was as if Jesus said, "You come to Me asking about what good thing you can do to inherit eternal life. But what do you really know about goodness?" "The argument is clear: either Jesus was good, or he ought not to have called him good; but as there is none good but God, Jesus who is good must be God." (Spurgeon)
c. If you want to enter into life, keep the commandments: Jesus' answer to the man's question was straightforward. If you want to gain eternal life by your doing, you must keep the commandments - all of them, and keep them in the fullest sense.
i. "He would needs be saved by doing, Christ sets him that to do which no man living can do, and so shows him his error." (Trapp)
2. (Mat 19:18-20) Jesus tests him by the aspects of the Mosaic Law that deal with man's relationship to men.
 He said to Him, "Which ones?" Jesus said, " 'You shall not murder,' 'You shall not commit adultery,' 'You shall not steal,' 'You shall not bear false witness,' [19 'Honor your father and your mother,' and, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'"  The young man said to Him, "All these things I have kept from my youth. What do I still lack?"
a. You shall not murder ...: Jesus asked the man about the commandments which primarily deal with a man's relation to man. In response, the young man claimed, "All these things I have kept from my youth," thus claiming to fulfill all God's commands regarding how we must treat other people.
i. Both tables of the law will test every person before God. It isn't enough to do good by our fellow man and be decent folk; we must do right by God, and give Him the glory and honor He deserves.
b. All these things I have kept from my youth: It is fair to ask if this man really had kept these commandments. It is likely that he actually did keep them in a way that made him righteous in the eyes of men, in the sense that Paul could say concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless in Philippians 3:6. But he certainly did not keep them in the full and perfect sense in which Jesus spoke of in the Sermon on the Mount.
i. Mark 10:21 tells us that in response to the man's answer, Jesus loved him. Jesus had compassion on this man, who was so misguided as to think that he really could justify himself before God.
c. What do I still lack? This alone tells us that this man had not perfectly kept the law, because he still knew that there was something missing in his life, prompting the question, "What do I still lack?" There was still something lacking in his life, reflecting something missing in his relationship with God.
i. "The exemplary life plus the dissatisfaction meant much ... "I am on the right road, according to your teaching; why then do I not attain the rest of the true, godly life?" (Bruce)
3. (Mat 19:21-22) Jesus tests him by the aspects of the Mosaic Law which deal with man's relationship to God.
 Jesus said to him, "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."  But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.
a. Sell all you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me: The call to forsake everything and follow Jesus is a call to put God first in all things. It is full obedience to the first table of the law, which dealt with a man's relation to God.
i. We may make two mistakes here. The one is to believe this applies to everyone, when Jesus never made this a general command to all who would follow Him, but especially to this one rich man whose riches were clearly an obstacle to his discipleship. Instead, many rich people can do more good in the world by continuing to make money and using those resources for the glory of God and the good of others. The second mistake is to believe this applies to no one, when there are clearly those today for whom the best thing they could do for themselves spiritually is to radically forsake the materialism that is ruining them.
ii. Yet we notice that Jesus simply called this man to be His disciple, in saying, "Follow Me." He used similar language in calling many of His disciples (Matthew 4:19; 8:22; 9:9; Mark 2:14). Jesus simply called this man to be His follower; but for this man it meant leaving behind the riches he had set his heart upon.
iii. "Think not, therefore, as many do, that there is no other hell but poverty, no better heaven than abundance." (Trapp)
b. He went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions: In this, the wealthy questioner failed utterly. Money was his god; he was guilty of idolatry. This is why Jesus, knowing the man's heart, asked him to renounce his possessions.
i. "He would be saved by works; yet he would not carry out his works to the full of the law's demand. He failed to observe the spirit both of the second and the first table. He loved not his poor brother as himself; he loved not God in Christ Jesus with all his heart and soul." (Spurgeon)
ii. The principle remains: God may challenge and require an individual to give something up for the sake of His kingdom that He still allows to someone else. There are many who perish because they will not forsake what God tells them to.
iii. Sorrowful, for he had great possessions: "And what were these in comparison of peace of conscience, and mental rest? Besides, he had unequivocal proof that these contributed nothing to his comfort, for he is now miserable even while he possesses them! And so will every soul be, who puts worldly goods in the place of the supreme God." (Clarke)
4. (Mat 19:23-26) Riches as an obstacle to the kingdom.
 Then Jesus said to His disciples, "Assuredly, I say to you that it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.  And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."  When His disciples heard it, they were greatly astonished, saying, "Who then can be saved?"  But Jesus looked at them and said to them, "With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."
a. Assuredly, I say to you: We should not diminish the strength of Jesus' words, nor fail to see their application in our own affluent society. Who among us would not be considered richer than this rich young ruler was?
b. It is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven: Riches are a problem because they tend to make us satisfied with this life, instead of longing for the age to come. As well, sometimes riches are sought at the expense of seeking God.
i. The illustration that Jesus used - it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle - was meant to be somewhat humorous. We immediately think of this as being impossible.
ii. "The camel, the largest common animal, trying to squeeze through the smallest imaginable hole." (France)
iii. One problem with riches is that they encourage a spirit of false independence, very much like the church of Laodicea: "I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing" (Revelation 3:17).
c. They were exceedingly amazed: The great amazement of the disciples was based on the assumption that riches were always a sign of God's blessing and favor.
i. They had probably hoped that their following of Jesus would make them rich and influential, and prominent leaders in His Messianic government. "In a culture where wealth was regarded as a sign of God's blessing and where a religious teacher was therefore expected to be at least moderately wealthy, the lifestyle of Jesus and his disciples was conspicuously different." (France)
d. With God all things are possible: It is possible for the rich man to be saved. God's grace is enough to save the rich man; we have the examples of people like Zaccheus, Joseph of Armithea, and Barnabas. These all were rich men still able to put God first, not their riches.
i. "Jesus is not saying that all poor people and none of the wealthy enter the kingdom of heaven. That would exclude Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to say nothing of David, Solomon, and Joseph of Arimathea." (Carson)
5. (Mat 19:27-30) Peter's blunt question: what do we get for following You?
Then Peter answered and said to Him, "See, we have left all and followed You. Therefore what shall we have?" So Jesus said to them, "Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, 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 lands, for My name's sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first."
a. Therefore what shall we have? In contrast to the rich young ruler, the disciples did leave all to follow Jesus - so what would be their reward? Jesus tells of special honor for the disciples: you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. The disciples will have a special role in the future judgment, probably in the sense of administration in the millennial Kingdom.
i. As well, the apostles had the honor of helping to provide a singular foundation for the church (Ephesians 2:20), and have a special tribute in the New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:14).
ii. "What Peter said was true, but it was not wisely spoken. It has a selfish, grasping look ... After all, what have any of us to lose for Jesus compared with what we gain by him?" (Spurgeon)
b. Everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters: But there will be universal honor for all who sacrifice for Jesus' sake; what ever has been given up for Him will be returned to us a hundred times over - in addition to everlasting life.
i. Hundredfold is obviously not literal in a material sense. Otherwise, Jesus promises a hundred mothers and a hundred wives. Jesus will do more than make up what we have given up for His sake, but the return may be spiritual instead of material. Hundredfold certainly is literally true in the spiritual sense.
ii. Matthew Poole described some of the ways we get our hundredfold:
- Joy in the Holy Ghost, peace of conscience, the sense of God's love.
- Contentment. They shall have a contented frame of mind.
- God will stir up the hearts of others to supply their wants, and that supply shall be sweeter to them than their abundance was.
- God sometimes repays them in this life, as he restored Job after his trial to greater riches.
iii. The principle stands: God will be a debtor to no man. It is impossible for us to give more to God than He gives back to us.
c. But many who are first will be last, and the last first: In the previous words, Jesus promised that those who sacrificed for His sake and the sake of His kingdom would be rewarded. Then He said that though they would be rewarded, it would be different than man usually expects; because we usually believe that the first will be first and the last will be last. The parable in the follow chapter will illustrate this principle.
i. "Jesus lays it down that there will be surprises in the final assessment ... it may be that those who were humble on earth will be great in heaven, and that those who were great in this world will be humbled in the world to come." (Barclay)
ii. "You remember the old Romish legend, which contains a great truth. There was a brother who preached very mightily, and who had won many souls to Christ, and it was revealed to him one night, in a dream, that in heaven he would have no reward for all that he had done. He asked to whom the reward would go; and an angel told him that it would go to an old man who used to sit on the pulpit stairs, and pray for him. Well, it may be so, though it is more likely that both would share their Master's praise. We shall not be rewarded, however, simply according to our apparent success." (Spurgeon)