Jesus from Galilee to Jerusalem
First Prediction of Death and Resurrection (8:31).
The Kingdom is Near (1:15; 9:1)
Final Events in Galilee (8:31–9:50).
Second Prediction of Death and Resurrection (9:31)
Kingdom Has Small Beginnings (4:3-32; 10:29-31)
At Judean Borders (10:1-31).
Divorce and Remarriage (10:1-12).
Little Children (10:13-16).
On Riches (10:17-31).
Rich young ruler (10:17-22).
Jesus then leaves the house He was in and a man comes running and kneels before Him.
We find out later that this is a rich man, Matthew and Luke reveal that he is also a young ruler—what he is ruling we do not know and it is not important for this event. In any event, this is why we call him the “rich young ruler.”
He probably had a degree of fame about him, though, and he still humbles himself before Jesus by kneeling before Him.
It is clear he recognizes Jesus as some sort of authority, asking Him the most important of questions: “what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?”
He’s not asking for a miracle, but for an answer.
Like any good Bible teacher, He directs this man to the Source, but before He does, He establishes His authority further.
It’s clear this young man believed Jesus to be an authority, but Jesus wanted to drive this home: “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God.”
Jesus is basically saying: “You believe I am a Good Teacher. Only God is good. So, did you really mean what you just said?”
The idea of only God being good is a common understanding among Jews at this time, and is evident in Paul’s writings, particularly Romans 3:9ff, where Paul quotes a litany of OT passages to prove his point.
Later, the young man shortens it to “Teacher.” Whether or not this is a sign that he corrected himself is uncertain. I think it more likely he did so for brevity’s sake.
So, Jesus directs this rich young man to the Scriptures just as He did to the Pharisees when they asked about divorce. Whenever we have a spiritual or a moral question, we don’t need a prophet or a voice from heaven to answer us because they already did!
Jesus goes through several of the Ten Commandments: 7th, 6th, 8th, 9th, and 5th.
There is the additional mention that is not a direct quote from the OT: “Do not defraud.” So is that an OT command, and did Jesus misquote something?
If you have been following along in our series on Leviticus, you’ll know that defrauding God and man was wrong. When they did violate this command, the trespass offering was to be performed which included a restoration of the thing defrauded plus one-fifth (Lev. 5:14–6:7).
In any event, this man reveals that he has done this from his youth. No doubt he was taught the commands of God and obeyed them, but he had a problem.
Jesus could immediately identify what this man lacked—he trusted in his riches more than he should have. He did not have a healthy relationship with his wealth.
Jesus tells this man what he must do, but before He does, I want you to notice something—He loved him; Jesus loved this man. It was evident that Jesus cared for him.
For us, when someone must hear a hard truth, do we share that out of a genuine love for them. Do they know that we love them? Are they convinced of it? Hearing such hard truths is much easier to take from someone we know loves us and cares about us. That’s why our benevolence, offering encouragement, and developing a family atmosphere are so important, to show others that we love them when we might need to share something uncomfortable with them as Jesus did here.
Jesus didn’t have a lot of time to develop a relationship with that man, but somehow it was evident that He loved him.
Here He relays to him the cost of discipleship. Recall what Jesus said about that cost in 8:34-38 and the cost of escaping hell in 9:43-48.
Some would lose their eyes, hands, and feet, some would even lose their lives.
What are we willing to give up for heaven? An unlawful spouse? Our riches?
This is not a command for all mankind—there are rich people in the church age mentioned in Acts and addressed in many letters.
But let’s make sure our relationship with wealth is healthy, and that we are not so attached to it as this man was who “went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.”
While we are not commanded to give up all that we have, we must be willing to give it all up to follow Christ.
Is that easy? No. But what’s most important? Leaving this life with “the most toys,” or leaving this life for a better one, one far better than any of your earthly riches can afford?
As the man goes away sorrowful, Jesus addresses His disciples lamenting at how difficult it is for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.
The kingdom here could refer to heaven or the church, it makes no difference.
Rich men submitting to God by becoming a Christian is not easy. But even if they do, it will still not be easy to get into heaven.
The disciples were shocked and astonished to hear this. Why? Don’t we think that those who are rich have been blessed by God?
Jesus then repeats Himself and doubles down, basically saying that it is impossible for a rich man to enter into His kingdom.
Consider just how small a needle is, then consider its opening for thread to go through. It’s the smallest opening they had, compared with the largest animal that was around. Such a feat was an utter impossibility.
Yet the disciples were even more astonished. In keeping with the blessings mentioned in Lev. 26, those material blessings are believed to be a result of their faithfulness to God. If men who were so blessed could not enter heaven, how could they?
Jesus is teaching us that it’s impossible for people to enter into the kingdom of God on their own merits, no matter how wealthy they are—in fact, wealth is a hindrance.
We know it can only be by His grace through our faith (Eph. 2:8), so without God entrance into His kingdom is utterly, absolutely, and totally impossible!
God saves us, not we ourselves.
We have left all (10:28-31).
Here we see the motivation behind the disciples’ question in 10:26. “Who then can be saved?” That really means: “What about us, Jesus? Aren’t we saved? See, look. We have left all and followed You!” In other words, the disciples’ question was more based on his own self-interest.
It’s an understandable question, though. “If those who are clearly blessed here on this earth cannot be saved because they won’t leave their wealth, what about us who left it all?”
Did they leave it all? We do see that at least Peter, Andrew, James, and John left their jobs as fishermen (1:16-20), while Matthew left his job as a tax collector (2:14). They had all left their families during this time, but we know that, with Jesus’ base in Capernaum likely in Peter and Andrew’s home, at least Peter and Andrew could see their family often. They were probably accepting of this, especially after Jesus healed Peter’s MIL (1:30-31).
Jesus lays out what it really means to leave it all: to leave one’s family and lands for the sake of Christ and the gospel.
What one gains for leaving it all is so much greater than one could possibly imagine.
He shall receive “a hundredfold now … and in the age to come.”
This is a callback to the section of the parables (4:3ff), the idea that the kingdom has small beginnings, yet will blossom into something great.
When we leave all, we have nothing or very little. But being a child of God means receiving far more than we had before—not unlike Job who receive twice what he had before his loss.
This also calls to mind what Jesus said about who His mothers, brothers, and sisters were: those who do God’s will (3:33-35).
But think of the fact that once we become Christians, whatever we may have lost in the world, we have gained a family in Christ.
Once I became a Christian, my family grew exponentially. Sure, I have distant cousins out there, but if I’m in a particular area, am I more likely to contact the local church or my third cousin twice removed who I’ve met maybe once?
I have relied on members of the church in so many situations. For instance, while I was single and traveling, they helped me so I didn’t have to spend money I didn’t have on a hotel.
But it doesn’t stop there. We cannot forget that the Lord adds, “with persecutions” to this list.
While we have so many spiritual blessings in this life, we also recognize that persecutions will come. While we in the West don’t suffer for it quite like those in other parts of the world, such treatment is expected.
While you may have persecutions, you also have a Christian family and a promise in this life, but also in the one to come.
Eternal life means so much to us, but so much more to those who suffered and literally left it all for the sake of Christ and the gospel.
Such people are last in this world, but they will be first in heaven, receiving that great reward!
This theme of suffering reverberates throughout this chapter as He predicts His death again and talks of the figurative baptism of suffering—it all culminates in Christ’s crucifixion.
Beware Herod & Pharisees (8:15; 10:33-34)
Journey to Jerusalem (10:32-52).
Third Prediction (10:32-34).
Beware of Herod & the Pharisees.