“Another day, a man stopped Jesus and asked, ‘Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?'” (Matt 19:16 MSG)
In the past three parts to this series, we’ve been looking at how Jesus was the devil’s enemy #1 and how the devil tried everything–from making it so there was no room for Him to inciting Herod to kill baby Jesus to inciting the Pharisees to crucify Jesus–to ensure that Jesus did not succeed. But nothing could stop Jesus. His love for us was that great. He came to make a way for us to be right with God again. So many people don’t know what Salvation is all about. After all, the commandments that Moses was given were very tough to keep. Many had no idea how to keep them.
In a story, recorded in Matthew 19, Mark 10 and Luke 18, we find a young man who has no idea how to be saved. It can be said to his credit that he desired to know how to be saved, for he sought out Jesus: “Another day, a man stopped Jesus and asked, ‘Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?'” (Matt. 19:16 MSG)
This is a very good question, one that everyone should be asking themselves!
Jesus’ response? “Why do you question me about what’s good? God is the One who is good. If you want to enter the life of God, just do what he tells you.” (Matt. 19:17 MSG)
The man already knew this. In fact, he had been trying to follow the commandments his entire life. Nonetheless, he still had that void in his heart, or he wouldn’t have been prompted to ask the question. So he asked for more clarification: “The man asked, ‘What in particular?'” (Matt. 19:18 MSG)
Jesus’ response was predictable: “Don’t murder, don’t commit adultery, don’t steal, don’t lie, honor your father and mother, and love your neighbor as you do yourself.” (Matt. 19:19-20a MSG)
Can you imagine the frustration of this young man? It is sort of like a 12 year-old boy who is trying to learn his multiplication tables. He may try and try, but he still forgets some of them. He might cry out one day, “There’s no way to learn these crazy multiplication tables!” Can we judge him when he continues to press Jesus: “The young man said, ‘I’ve done all that. What’s left?'” (Matt. 19:20b MSG).
Jesus was waiting for this. He could see the young man had a true desire to follow God, and so He responded: “If you want to give it all you’ve got…go sell your possessions; give everything to the poor. All your wealth will then be in heaven. Then come follow me.” (Matt. 19:21 MSG)
Unfortunately, this was the last thing he expected to hear: “And so, crest-fallen, he walked away. He was holding on tight to a lot of things, and he couldn’t bear to let go.” (Matt. 19:22 MSG). This poor man wanted to follow the commands of Jesus, but he just couldn’t. It was tough!
Jesus felt for this man. The Bible records that, “As he watched him go, Jesus told his disciples, ‘Do you have any idea how difficult it is for the rich to enter God’s kingdom? Let me tell you, it’s easier to gallop a camel through a needle’s eye than for the rich to enter God’s kingdom.'” (Matt. 19:23-24 MSG).
Jesus’ response astonished the disciples, leaving them without hope: “The disciples were staggered. ‘Then who has any chance at all?'” (Matt. 19:25 MSG).
As always, Jesus knew what they were thinking, and He wished to reassure them: “Jesus looked hard at them and said, ‘No chance at all if you think you can pull it off yourself. Every chance in the world if you trust God to do it.'” (Matt. 19:26 MSG).
I can almost hear the thoughts of the disciples: ‘We’ve left everything to follow Jesus, but it’s not a possible thing!’ And Peter actually voice this very idea: “Then Peter chimed in, ‘We left everything and followed you. What do we get out of it?'” (Matt. 19:27 MSG)
Jesus’ response? “Yes, you have followed me. In the re-creation of the world, when the Son of Man will rule gloriously, you who have followed me will also rule, starting with the twelve tribes of Israel. And not only you, but anyone who sacrifices home, family, fields–whatever–because of me will get it all back a hundred times over, not to mention the considerable bonus of eternal life. This is the Great Reversal: many of the first ending up last, and the last first.” (Matt 19:28-30 MSG)
Notice Jesus’ response: “This is the Great Reversal.” Unfortunately the disciples still had no clue what He was talking about. Not then. Later they would understand. Later they would realize that Jesus was telling them He was the solution. But they ended that conversation as bewildered as they had begun it.
It would seem, though, from the exchange, that Jesus is excited about the fact that He is to be the solution to the sin problem. I doubt the thought of the cross excited Him, but the idea of becoming the solution to our sin problem drove Him forward. When our God came to this Earth as a tiny baby, He came to bring us Salvation!
God is in control!
(To access the entire “When Grace Came Down” devotional series, please click here.)