Jesus Invites the Rich Young Man to Follow Him

Matthew 19:16-30

A young man came to Jesus and asked, “Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?”

First Jesus reminded the young man who had called him “Good Master” that the one that is truly good is God.  Then Jesus told the young man to keep the commandments.

At this, the young man asked, “Which?”

Jesus reviewed some commandments with him, saying “Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.”

The young man told Jesus that he had kept all these commandments since the time he was a young boy, and asked “What lack I yet?”

Then Jesus gave the young man an invitation not everyone receives.  Jesus said, “If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.”

Jesus and the Rich Young Ruler, by Heinrich Hofmann

The Bible gives the young man’s response:  “when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.”

Then Jesus told his disciples that it will be very difficult for a rich man to enter into heaven, adding “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.”

The disciples were surprised and asked, “Who then can be saved?” 

Jesus gave an answer that probably applies to many things, but certainly to entering into heaven:  “With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.”

Peter had understood what Jesus invited the rich young man to do.  It was similar to what Peter and the other apostles had done after Jesus’ invitation to them.  They had given up everything to follow Jesus.  Peter asked what they would receive after doing all this.

Jesus told them that in the resurrection, Jesus would be on a throne of glory and that the twelve apostles would also sit on twelve thrones to judge the twelve tribes of Israel.  

Jesus added:

“And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.  But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first.”

What do you think?

  • The young man asked “What good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?” Does it really work that way?  Can we earn our way into heaven?  Or is that the impossible way, and we need God to make it possible?
  • The young man went away sorrowful.  Do you think he sold his possessions and came back later to follow Jesus?
  • If we give up things to follow Jesus, is it worth it?  When?
  • What good things do we receive now as we try to follow Jesus?

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