Matthew 19:16-26

Then someone came to him and said, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.” He said to him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; Honor your father and mother; also, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” The young man said to him, “I have kept all these; what do I still lack?” Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be perfect, go, sell your possessions, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” When the young man heard this word, he went away grieving, for he had many possessions.


Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it will be hard for a rich person to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astounded and said, “Then who can be saved?” But Jesus looked at them and said, “For mortals it is impossible, but for God all things are possible.”  Matthew 19:16-26


It is best not to hold Jesus to a literal enumeration of the 10 Commandments.  “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” isn’t on the famous list on the stone tablets…but it flows through the heart of most of them.  It might even be the point of the whole bunch.  Jesus is very interested in the heart of the matter.


A rich young man asks a wonderful question.  “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?”


What is wonderful about that question isn’t the implicit theology.  The implicit theology is the idea that there is something that we HAVE to do to GET eternal life.  That isn’t good news, it is a heavy expectation bound to lead to disappointment.  It is a slap in the face of God’s grace, an immature “I want to do it by myself!” kind of childishness.  It’s the next thing on the list for the guy who has everything.


No, what is wonderful about his question is that this young man, who seems to have it all, obviously is aware that he is missing the point in his life.  Outwardly, he has everything that people might aspire to.  He is living the American Dream.  He has power, position, privilege, and a very fat wallet.  But he is very aware – as are most of us and most of the people we know – that there is something else.  Something missing.  Call it meaning or purpose or satisfaction or contentment or centeredness or completion or whatever you want to call it.  Call it simply having a life centered on something other than love, something other than God.


And Jesus’ answer to him, and to us, is very simple:  If your hands are too full, of yourself, of your stuff, even of your own self righteousness, then your hands are too full for God.  The only way that God will fit is if you let it all go.  Let everything go. Make following Jesus your aim and the odds are good that everything in your life will look very different to you.  It will be like being born again.


Let us pray:  Jesus, you are Lord of life, be Lord of our lives.  Make it crystal clear what is blocking us, what is weighing us down, that we might let go and let you have free reign in our lives.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.


5 Responses to “Matthew 19:16-26”

  1. Meg Nelson Says:

    Oh my gosh! I read this devotion and loved it! Sent it to three of my daughters and hubby. Then I glanced and saw the “revkerry.”

    I haven’t seen a devotion from you in a few years I believe.

    I am the one from Minnesota who has a brother-in-law named Kerry Nelson too.

    Keep up the great work!

    Meg Nelson

  2. Melanie Says:

    First of all…welcome back! You were missed. Secondly, I loved your insight to the fact that even the man who thought he had it all realized he didn’t and then your follow up with hands full of “stuff” are too full for God. We have to let go to be able to grasp the hand that God is reaching out to us!
    Thank you!!!

  3. Teri Says:

    Welcome back. I, too, have missed your Daily Devotions.

  4. LaVonne Severson Says:

    Great to have you back. Your devotions mean a lot to me. Keep it up. I like the insights you have on scripture and it means more.


  5. Karen Elsen Says:

    So glad you have resumed the dialogue with your people. It’s great to have these in the inbox again.

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