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MATTHEW - Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at Hand!
A Bible Study Course on the Gospel of Christ according to Matthew
PART 3 - Jesus' Ministry in the Jordan Vally During His Journey to Jerusalem (Matthew 19:1 - 20:34)

5. The Rich Young Man and the Danger of Richness (Matthew 19:16-22)

MATTHEW 19:16-22
16 Behold, one came to him and said, “Good teacher, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?” 17 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.” 18 He said to him, “Which ones?” Jesus said, “‘You shall not murder.’ ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ ‘You shall not steal.’ ‘You shall not offer false testimony.’ 19 ‘Honor your father and mother.’ And, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” 20 The young man said to him, “All these things I have observed from my youth. What do I still lack?” 21 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.” 22 But when the young man heard the saying, he went away sad, for he was one who had great possessions.
(Exodus 20:12-16, Leviticus 19:18, Psalm 62:11, Mark 10:17-27, Luke 18:18-27; 12:33)

The evangelist Matthew, in addressing problems in the church, chose to address the issue of wealth after highlighting marriage, divorce, and child care.

One young man longed to live with God in cleanliness, holiness, and good deeds. This is a great ambition, but Christ first wanted to free him from the false notion that God’s standard and people’s standard for righteousness is the same. Jesus said to the young man, “No one is good but God.” He addressed him with this shocking sentence to open his understanding that he might recognize that Christ and God are one, in one essence.

Jesus lives with His Father in the union of the Spirit, in perfect goodness, righteousness, and glory. But we, with respect to God’s holiness, are all corrupt, wicked, and unable to do any good thing of our own accord. We are therefore in need of total repentance and self-denial.

Only God is good, and there is none essentially or originally good but God. His goodness is of and from Himself, and all the goodness in creation comes from Him. He is the fountain of goodness, and ever good stream that flows, comes down from our Father of lights (James 1:17). Jesus is the great Pattern and Sample of goodness. By Him all goodness is to be measured. Everything that is like Him and agreeable to His mind is good. We in our language call Him God, because He is good. In this, as in other things, our Lord Jesus is “the Brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person” (Hebrews 1:3) and therefore fittingly called good teacher.

The young man did not understand Christ’s lesson. Christ put in his face the mirror of the law that he might see his lack of fulfilling it in his day-to-day duties. Once again the young man’s shallowness surfaced as he thought he had fulfilled all that God demanded from him. He did not see his reality as a sinner before his Holy Lord. He was deceived by his conceited righteousness, proud of his honesty, and had considered himself righteous in keeping to the law. Jesus had to show him that which held him captive, his love for money and his prideful self confidence. He showed him that perfect godliness means a complete sacrifice for God and the needy. This perfection can only be reached by following Jesus.

Christ here specifies the commandments referring to official duties to fellow men. This is not because the other commandments are of no account, but the teachers who sat in Moses’ seat, either wholly neglected or greatly corrupted these precepts in their preaching. While they tithed of mint, anise, and cumin – judgment, mercy, and faith were overlooked (Matthew 23:23). Their preaching was about rituals and not morals.

Christ does not teach us that all rich should spend their money among the poor without caution, but that they should study wisely how they might help them so that they can help themselves. A lazy man is not worthy of donations, he rather needs to change his nature that he may eat bread by the sweat of his brow.

Christ did not teach the young man with the goal that he distribute his money among the needy in the first place, but that he free himself from his trust in his properties that he might submit himself and his money completely to God. The fact is that no one can serve both God and mammon (money).

But the young man wanted to follow Jesus and trust his money at the same time. Christ asks for the full trust of your heart for He would not crown a divided heart. Christ does not command every man to sell his properties. Yet His calling to you is to commit yourself completely to Him. This includes your money and properties too.

The reigning love of wealth keeps many from Christ, even though they seem to have good desires toward Him.

PRAYER: O Holy One, You are the Living, the Rightful, and the Merciful. Forgive us if we trust our perishable money and properties. Help us to put ourselves, and our money completely at Your disposal. We cannot serve You and mammon at the same time. Help us to love You, and to love the poor and the needy in Your faithful love.


  1. How did Jesus try to save the godly young man?


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