October 13, 2013

Scripture and Commentary, Monday after Twentieth Sunday after Trinity

Morning – Psalm 124, 128, 2 Kings 4:8-17, 1 Tim. 3:14-4:5
Evening- Psalm 131, 133, 134,  Ecc. 1, Mt. 19:16

Commentary, Matthew 19:16-30

Matthew 19:16-22 is known as the story of the Rich Young Ruler because the young man is called a ruler in Luke 18:18.  He was probably a member of the Sanhedrin, which directed the practice of Jewish faith during the time of Christ.  Nicodemus was a member of that body, and was called a ruler of the Jews in John 3:1.  It would be natural for such people to seek out Jesus at this point in Matthew as He was on the east side of the Jordan River, yet very near Judea and Jerusalem.  Though a Pharisee, he does not seem to oppose Jesus, yet he has the Pharisaical self-righteous attitude about him, and his words could be viewed as a challenge to Jesus.

Jesus’words in verse 17, “there is none good but one; that is, God,” are a direct challenge to the Pharisaical view of righteousness by law keeping.  Yet the man states blatantly that “All these things have I kept from my youth up.”  So Jesus shows him that his perceived righteousness is imaginary.  The true test of righteousness is what Jesus called the first and great commandment, to love God with all thy heart, soul, and mind.  But this man loved his wealth and possessions far more than he loved God.  Thus, when told to sell all “he went away sorrowful” (vs. 22).  Thus the man is shown to be a sinner after all; a sinner whose only hope is the grace of God in Christ.  Like him, we are sinners, and our only hope of acceptance with God, what the young ruler called having “eternal life,” is the grace of God in Christ.

Verses 23-26 reveal the stronghold earthly possessions often have over people.  The rich young ruler probably considered them proof of God’s acceptance of him.  But Jesus says they are heavy burdens that virtually hold people out of the Kingdom of God.  Like this man, we are prone to value our possessions over God.

It seems to Peter, then, that no one can be saved, and Christ makes the very profound statement, “With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.”     In other words, it is impossible for any of us to save ourselves.  Not only can we not atone for our sins, but we cannot make ourselves want to love God more than our possessions or ourselves.  Only God can change our hearts and cause us to seek Him in Biblical faith. The reassurance Christ gives to the disciples is that they will be saved. They have given up family, home, possessions, and all else to follow Jesus.  Their faith is in Him.  And Jesus promises that He will give them eternal life (vss. 25-30).

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