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Matthew 19:16-30: What good deed must I do to have eternal life?

Posted by adventbiblestudy on May 23, 2012


Matthew 19:16-30 NLTse Someone came to Jesus with this question: “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” (17) “Why ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. But to answer your question–if you want to receive eternal life, keep the commandments.” (18) “Which ones?” the man asked. And Jesus replied: “‘You must not murder. You must not commit adultery. You must not steal. You must not testify falsely. (19) Honor your father and mother. Love your neighbor as yourself.'” (20) “I’ve obeyed all these commandments,” the young man replied. “What else must I do?” (21) Jesus told him, “If you want to be perfect, go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” (22) But when the young man heard this, he went away very sad, for he had many possessions. (23) Then Jesus said to his disciples, “I tell you the truth, it is very hard for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. (24) I’ll say it again–it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!” (25) The disciples were astounded. “Then who in the world can be saved?” they asked. (26) Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible.” (27) Then Peter said to him, “We’ve given up everything to follow you. What will we get?” (28) “Yes,” Jesus replied, “and I assure you that when the world is made new and the Son of Man sits upon his glorious throne, you who have been my followers will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. (29) And everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or property, for my sake, will receive a hundred times as much in return and will inherit eternal life. (30) But many who are the greatest now will be least important then, and those who seem least important now will be the greatest then.

 

 

As Jesus finished blessing the children, the disciples began to see how they must become like a trusting child in His presence. They must learn to trust and respect Him like a child trusts their father. A child’s thoughts, beliefs, and faith can be molded. Philip began thinking about the potter and clay. “And yet, O LORD, you are our Father. We are the clay, and you are the potter. We all are formed by your hand.” (Isaiah 64:8 NLTse) He began to see when the clay is soft, it is easily formed. When allowed, God forms a spiritual life few have been able to understand or comprehend. This is what Jesus has been trying to teach. Each of them have their own faults which must be changed. They all needed to grow spiritually, to be shaped once more into the image of God.

 

Philip noticed a man with an anxious look on his face. He could tell he had a question. As the last mother and child accepted Jesus’ blessing, the young man slowly approached. He gave the appearance of being very shy. Jesus patiently waited while the man composed himself. Watching the man closely, Philip could tell the man was rehearsing his question. Finally the man spoke. “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?”

 

Philip thought the answer would be easy for Jesus. He waited for Jesus to tell him, he must become like a little child. Philip was thankful the man asked the question. He anxiously waited for Jesus’ reply. He wanted to see if Jesus would use the same explanations going through his mind. Instead Jesus replied, “Why ask me about what is good? There is only One who is good. But to answer your question–if you want to receive eternal life, keep the commandments.”

 

Philip was taken back by the answer. He thought for a moment, how could there be two answers to the same question? Wasn’t Jesus telling us how we must become like little children to enter the Kingdom of Heaven? Philip began to pray to see if the Spirit would reveal the answer. In a moment he began to see the relationship. A little child learns boundaries, limits, and laws which govern and teach right from wrong. He also remembered, as you grow, you begin to learn things from the world such as exceptions to the rules. Why some should be followed, others excused, or reasons why some can be compromised, or disregarded. The exceptions are generally taught by peers. When a child enters into the world, others begin to teach compromises. Philip could see how the world waters down the laws. Philip said to himself, “now I get it. Jesus wants our natures to return to the way we were when we were little children, when we accepted rules and regulations without question, out of respect, knowing the Teacher is much wiser, more experienced than us. To learn with the trust and faith of a little child. That is why Jesus said, “There is only One who is good.””

 

Everything seemed to be going through Philip’s mind in a flash. His attention was once more focused on Jesus and the conversation with the young man as he asked, “Which ones?” Philip guessed at Jesus’ answer would be, “all of them.” He waited for His answer. Jesus replied: “You must not murder. You must not commit adultery. You must not steal. You must not testify falsely. Honor your father and mother. Love your neighbor as yourself.” As Philip wondered why Jesus provided such a detailed answer, the man replied, “I’ve obeyed all these commandments.” This was the answer Philip had expected, but the young man quickly added, “What else must I do?” This was an interesting rely. It was not anything Philip would have considered answering with. As he watched, Philip felt his prayer was still being answered, moving upon the young man. Philip could see the man was truly searching for answers. He anxiously awaited Jesus’ answer. , “If you want to be perfect, go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

 

Philip could now see why Jesus did not give the young man the same answer He had given the disciples. He was amazed how Jesus’ answers initiated questions which led to the lesson the young man needed to hear. How could He, or anyone do this without the guidance of the Holy Ghost?

 

Philip was feeling a glow inside. A deep warm feeling he had never felt before. He wondered if this was what Jesus felt when He prayed to the Father. For Philip it lasted but a moment. As he looked, the face of the young man changed. Philip looked in his eyes. It was as if he shared the young man’s grief and torment. Philip’s gaze focused on the man’s clothes. He finally noticed the man was dressed in fine clothes, and wore expensive chains and rings. He perceived this man was rich. The young man dropped his head low, face to the ground, turned and walked away from Jesus. Philip wondered if this was for good, or if the Spirit would one day touch his heart, and he would return to Jesus.

 

The disciples watched the man walk away, then looked back to Jesus, expecting Him to call out to the young man. Instead He turned to them and said, “I tell you the truth, it is very hard for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. I’ll say it again–it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!” This response surprised the disciples. They thought, everyone has something. Riches come in many forms. Must everyone gives up everything to enter into Heaven? Philip spoke up, “Then who in the world can be saved?”

 

This was the question Jesus had expected. He could see each of the disciples still had worldly attractions they were hanging onto. Some more than others. He let them think to themselves for a while, before answering, , “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible.”

 

Jesus wanted them to think about this for a moment, but Peter quickly pointed out, “We’ve given up everything to follow you. What will we get?” Jesus knew the trials ahead for each of them, and everything they would eventually give up. He knew this was the time to provide a measure of encouragement. “Yes,” Jesus replied, “and I assure you that when the world is made new and the Son of Man sits upon his glorious throne, you who have been my followers will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or property, for my sake, will receive a hundred times as much in return and will inherit eternal life. But many who are the greatest now will be least important then, and those who seem least important now will be the greatest then.”

 

Philip did not begin to calculate what he would gain. Instead he concentrated on what he had learned. Being a ruler in the new world seemed like an awesome responsibility. He knew he would still be subject to Jesus. That made him think. To learn to rule like Jesus meant to put away everything from this world, customs, laws, doctrine, and thoughts. It meant starting from scratch, with nothing but an open heart willing to be filled with the wisdom and order from the Holy Ghost. To seek God like Jesus.

 

Philip noticed Jesus repeated another lesson. The greatest will be the least, and the least will be the greatest. Another connection to being like little children. Philip began to wonder. Which is greater? That which I have to unlearn, of the things I have to learn?

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