MATTHEW 19:16-30
THE RICH YOUNG RULER
 


 

Matthew 19:16-30 The Rich Young Ruler

Verse 16

1. And behold, one came to Him and said:

A. Luke 18:18 identifies him as a ruler (archon).
B. Verse 20 says he was a young man.
C. Verse 22 says he was rich.

2. Teacher: didaskalos which is equivalent to rabbi.
At Luke 18:18, he says "good" teacher (agathos).

3. what good thing shall I do that I may obtain eternal life?"
At Mark and Luke, he says, "what shall I do."

Before I go any further, we must recognize once again the ever puzzling reality of the "synoptic problem."
Matthew says teacher; Mark and Luke say "good" teacher.
Matthew says what good thing; Mark and Luke say, what shall I do.
In Matthew, Jesus responds to "good thing" and in Mark and Luke, He responds to "Good teacher."
Matthew uses the word "obtain" life; Mark and Luke use the word, "inherit" life. And several others all throughout the synoptic gospels.

The first and most apparent reason for these slight differences is that Matthew was an "eyewitness" and both Mark and Luke wrote from 2nd hand information. This reality does not detract from the principle of inspiration, for inspiration always preserves the personality, education and vocabulary differences of the writers while still preserving the "revelation" factor of information given by God the Holy Spirit. But it does indicate why one might emphasize a particular aspect that the other does not. It is usually conceded that Mark got most of his information from Peter and Luke "tapped into" all the disciples.

Furthermore, in recognizing these slight differences, we should acknowledge the very real possibility that the incident actually "went down" with all the recorded factors taking place.

Hendriksen summarizes the solution to the Synoptic Problem as follows:

"The slight differences . . . do not change the substance of the story. They indicate that each Gospel-writer had his own style. A document can be fully inspired and inerrant without being pedantically precise. The evangelists are not reeling off a recording. What each of them is doing is reproducing the happening in his own characteristic manner. For this we should be thankful. It makes the combined account that much more interesting. Besides, it is surely not to be supposed that ALL the words of Jesus spoken at each occasion were written down. . . And so also in connection with the other slight differences: an evangelist has the perfect right to substitute a synonym for the actual word that was spoken, as long as this synonym conveys the same meaning."

(The Gospel of Matthew, page 724, by William Hendriksen, 1973)

The first point of importance is to recognize that the subject here is indeed, salvation as is indicated by the phrase, "obtain everlasting life."

This person wants the blessings of the kingdom of God, but he wants them on his own terms which is a works system.

The means of salvation has not been hidden from the people of the Messiah generation. John the dipper made it perfectly clear in his teachings, "telling the people to believe in Him who was coming after him, that is, in Jesus," (Acts 19:4). And he testified of Jesus, "Behold the Lamb of God who lifts up the sin of the world," (John 1:29).

Jesus Himself perpetuated and amplified the same "gospel" message by proclaiming Himself as the Son of Man, ie, the promised Messiah.

Mark tells us, that Jesus "came proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, the time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God is at hand; change your mind and believe the gospel," (Mark 1:14-15).

The details of that gospel message can be found all throughout the first chapters of John, where we find Him teaching the "multitudes," that "this is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent," (John 6:29); and things like, "I am the bread of life; he who comes to me shall never hunger and he who believes in me shall never thirst," (John 6:35).

And, publicly in the temple on a feast day, "You both know me and know where I am from; and I have not come of myself, but He who sent Me is true, Whom you do not know. I know Him; because I am from Him, and He sent Me," (John 7:28-29). And, "I said therefore to you, that you shall die in your sins; for unless you believe that I AM, you shall die in your sins," (John 8:24).

Now although the rich young ruler may or may not have been present at these times, the very fact that he recognizes Jesus as a teacher, indeed, a "good" teacher, indicates that he had heard the teachings of Jesus.

Anyone hearing the teachings of Jesus would also here the means for entrance into life. This man is not "searching" for truth. He wants validation for his own system of salvation (the works of the law, ie, keeping the commandments). He knows the answer to his question, "what good thing," and is prepared - "since my youth, I have kept all these things," (Mark 10:20). All he wants is validation from this "new" rabbi; this "good" teacher. The man has not accepted either the person of Jesus as the Messiah, or the message of salvation proclaimed by Him. He has not been receptive to "the words of everlasting life" (John 6:68), just impressed by the popularity of Jesus and wants His approval.

Jesus of course, sees right through this guy and "cuts to the chase" with a focus on the deity of the Messiah.

Verse 17,

And He said to him, "Why are you asking Me about what is good?
There is {only} One who is good; . . ."

Mark 10:18,

And Jesus said to him, "Why do you call Me good?
No one is good except God alone."

Since we recognize the validity of each synoptic's contribution to the story, a harmony is in order.

"Good teacher, what good thing shall I do to inherit everlasting life?"
And Jesus said to him, "Why do you call me good and why do you ask me about what is good?
There is no one who is good except God alone."

The first issue is the divine nature of Jesus the Messiah and the second issue is the quality of "good" required in order to be acceptable to God.

When Jesus asks him, "why do you call me good," it is a challenge to the ruler concerning the Messianic person of Christ. It was clearly taught throughout the Old Testament, that the Messiah would be Yahweh Himself, come in the flesh. When Jesus says that only God is good, he is requiring the man to make a decision about the deity of Christ. If there is only one who is good and you call me good, what does that make Me.

Now, we must keep this closely within the confines of this conversation, for we know most certainly that man can indeed be good (agathos). For Jesus to state that only God is agathos is hyperbolic language, used in order to make a point to this man and get him to think about what he has just said and to whom he is talking. He will never be able to "enter into life" unless he recognizes that Jesus is the Messiah and, just as Jesus said to Nicodemus, "so that whoever believes, may in Him have everlasting life," (John 3:15).

The second issue is the quality of good which is required for life with God. We know that "all have sinned and are deficient of the glory of God," (Rom. 3:23). We know that "all our righteous deeds are as filthy rags in His sight," (Isaiah 64:60). Jesus said, "unless your righteousness EXCEEDS the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven," (Mat. 5:20).

So when Jesus asks, "Why are you asking Me about what is good? There is only One who is good," He is bringing the issue right down to God's policy for life rather than man's. God's policy has always been faith in God Most High and the promise of a coming savior. Just as "Abraham believed in God and it was calculated to him as righteousness," (Rom. 4:3).

For, "to the one who does not work (follow a salvation by works policy), but believes in Him Who declares righteous the ungodly, his faith is calculated as righteousness," (Rom. 4:5).

When the multitude asked Jesus, "what shall we do that we may work the works of God," Jesus answered, "this is the work of God, that you believe in Him Whom He has sent," (John 6:28-29).

But this young rich man has rejected the idea of "faith" for salvation and believes that he is saved by the works of the law. And in the delusion of his own self-righteousness, he clings strongly to the material things of this life, for he has nothing else to give him pleasure except that which he can see and feel. He is indeed, storing up for himself, treasures on earth (Mat. 6:19). And in that delusion, he is seeking approval and vindication from a respected teacher, although it is a teacher he has not listened to in the same way that he has not listened to Moses. He claims to have kept the commandments and to thus set his hope on the law. Yet it is Moses himself who will accuse him, "for if you believed Moses, you would believe Me, for he wrote of Me," (John 5:45-46).

The question has been asked, why does Jesus treat this young man so harshly instead of just giving him the gospel? The reason is because of the man's predisposition since he has ALREADY rejected Jesus as the Messiah and the issue of faith as God's policy for salvation.

Indeed, listen to the rich man in hades, who pleads that Lazarus go to his brothers and "warn them, lest they also come to this place." The answer came, "They have Moses and the prophets, let them hear them." And the rich man, knowing fully the attitude of his brothers (being like-minded with them) said, "No, but if someone goes to them from the dead they will alter their thinking." But again the indictment, "If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone rises from the dead." (Luke 16:27-31).

Jesus needs to expose this man's policy as being self-serving since he gives lip-service to the commandments but does not truly keep the essence of the commandments which is "love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and energy . . . and your neighbor as yourself," (Mat. 22:27-40).

So Jesus says, "But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments."

This is the "set up." Jesus knows that he will claim obedience to the commandments and thus "hang himself" in the process.

Verse 18a,

He said to Him, "Which ones?"

The man is prepared for the answer, "keep the commandments" and asks for clarification just to make sure that he and this "good teacher" are on the same page.

Verse 18b-19, And Jesus said,


"YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT MURDER;
YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY;
YOU SHALL NOT STEAL;
YOU SHALL NOT BEAR FALSE WITNESS;
HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER;
and YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF."

Notice that Jesus quotes just 5 of the 10 commandments (Numbers 4-9); the ones that emphasize man's interaction with man according to the terms of God's morality standards. But He also lists the ONE commandment that pulls them all together, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself."

In fact, the 10th commandment, "you shall not covet," is a perfect expression of the commandment, "you shall love your neighbor."

Verse 20,

The young man said to Him,
"All these things I have kept; what am I still lacking?"

With this, the man puts his neck in the noose. He claims total obedience not only to the "overt" moral standards, but to the second great commandment of love. But, it will be demonstrated that, not only does this man NOT love his neighbor as himself, but he also does not love God.

Verse 21,

Jesus said to him, "If you wish to be complete,
go and sell your possessions and give to the poor,
and you shall have treasure in heaven;
and come, follow Me."

The word, complete, does not refer to spiritual completion or anything to do with salvation. The word answers his question, "what am I still lacking?"

Jesus is carrying this man's premise to its logical conclusion. He should be loving his neighbor AS HIMSELF. He should have no problems about selling and giving to the poor because the Lord has asked him to be a disciple (come and follow me), just like he did with the 12 and with the 70. As a personal disciple of Jesus, the man will have no need for his material possessions. But the whole problem here is that he has not recognized Jesus as the Messiah-savior and will therefore, not follow Him. He is comfortable with his own religious system because it allows him to be physically "comfortable" through his wealth, and still get the applause and laudation from men as he displays his "commandment keeping."

Jesus does not cater to his desire to have his religious system vindicated but instead, exposes it and tears it down.

The real issue here is the last request, "come, follow me." The man's wealth is simply the "stumbling block" that prevents him from truly trusting in Jesus as the Messiah.

He needs to replace his present value system with the divine value system. He needs to stop building treasures on earth and build treasures in heaven. This begins with faith in the Messiah, but he has already rejected that option and Jesus knows it.

This guy is a mini Saul of Tarsus. He thinks he is spiritually alive because, "as to the righteousness of the law," he is blameless (Philip. 3:6b). But when Saul came to understand the 10th commandment, "you shall not covet," it is then he knew he was truly a sinner and guilty of the whole law (Rom. 7:7-13). This commandment exposes the arrogance and power of "rich-mindedness" (the attitude that puts confidence in material things, seeking both spiritual security and earthly happiness, and of course, finding neither).

This commandment addresses the "mind" rather than the actions of the life. The actions of the life can appear "righteous" (Mat. 23:28) but inwardly be full of "hypocrisy and lawlessness."

This is what Jesus is addressing. He is not playing games and not misdirecting the man. Indeed, (Mark 10:21) "And looking at him, Jesus felt a LOVE for him. . ."

Jesus never ceases to love, even those who reject Him, but He also knows best exactly what kind of information someone needs. However, just because someone gets the right information, does not mean they will accept it.

This man has already heard the issues of faith in Messiah. Now he must face what is preventing him from accepting the Messiah in total faith-dependence (ie, follow Me). Once someone has rejected truth, it begins the process of hardness of heart. The teacher of truth must simply continue to teach and present divine viewpoint to provide conviction.

The information received will either produce a change of mind or intensify the hardening of heart. This is what happened to Pharaoh. Pharaoh hardened his heart against God first, and then God continued to proclaim truth to him and demonstrate his power through miracles (the plagues), but instead of changing his mind, he persisted in hardness of heart. That is what it means when it says, that God hardened Pharaoh's heart. He did it by continually providing more and more information and evidence.

The technique Jesus is using is designed to "shock" the soul into seeing the fallacy and weakness of one's religious system and enable him to discard the stumbling block to faith.

Whatever causes the unbeliever to stumble (ie, influences him not to trust in Jesus) must be discarded so that PERHAPS he might then believe.

The removal of the obstacle does not in itself, guarantee acceptance of the gospel. But if one does not discard it, then both it and his soul will end up in the lake of fire (Mat. 18:8-9).

Verse 22,

"But when the young man heard this statement, he went away grieved;
for he was one who owned much property."

And in the case before us, it is his wealth that is the stumbling block to his own soul. As long as he puts his trust in his wealth, he will be blinded by his sinfulness toward God's standards and he will continue to come short of saving faith.

It is in this regard that it is so very hard for a rich man to get into heaven. For if the rich man is "rich-minded" then he places greater value and confidence in his material possessions than in true spiritual value. Thus, the illustration about the camel and the eye of the needle. It is impossible for a camel to go through the eye of a "sewing" needle and it is impossible for a rich-minded man to get into heaven.

Verses 23-24,

And Jesus said to His disciples,
"Truly I say to you, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.

"And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle,
than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."

In actuality, this discourse directed to His disciples is prefaced by the statement Jesus leaves with the rich-minded young ruler.

Luke 18:24,

And Jesus looked at him and said,
"How hard it is for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God!"

He tells the man exactly what it is that is standing in the way.

And when the disciples here this, they are truly puzzled, thinking that the "impossibility" for a rich-minded man to enter heaven applies equally to all men.

Luke 18:26,

And they who heard it said, "Then who can be saved?"

 

COMMENTS ABOUT THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE

1. Mat. 19:24, "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."
Mark 10:25; Luke 18:25

2. This is a figure of speech used by Jesus to illustrate the impossibility of adjusting to God WHILE clinging to darkness, materialistic values.

3. Jesus uses a similar figure of speech in Mat. 23:24 to illustrate the extreme in spiritual blindness.

A. Blind guides: Mat. 15:14, both fall into the ditch
B. Strain out a gnat: the religious custom of straining wine to avoid eating any uncleanness (such as a bug).

C. The gnat represents the smallest animal in the land which they try so hard to avoid through their religious legalism.

D. The camel represents the largest animal in the land and is symbolic of the greater spiritual error.

E. This is explained by v. 25-28, and specifically, v. 28, "on the inside they are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness."

4. There is suggestion that this was a common proverbial expression but there is no record in other literature.

A. Examples of a similar proverb occur in the rabbinical writings of the Talmud. Ber 55b; BM 38b, "elephant through the eye of a needle."

B. This was used to illustrate something that is an impossibility.

C. It is best to take the figure as it stands rather than thinking that Jesus quoted a cultural proverb.

5. The problem with the figure is that for a long time scholars thought that needles did not exist at the time.

A. But they did exist as demonstrated by the finds of archaeologists.

B. As well as the fact that 2 words are used by the gospel writers.
This indicates the existence of two types of needle.

6. The 2 words used:

A. Matthew and and Mark use "raphis" which refers to a regular sewing needle.
B. Luke uses "belonā" which is a surgical needle.

C. Some have claimed that "raphis" refers to a small gate in a walled city but there is no evidence of the existence of such a thing.

D. The fact that 2 words are used also indicates that no corresponding proverb existed in Greek culture.

E. So once again, the figure should be taken as it stands, and not as a proverb.

7. Another problem with the figure is the genuine impossibility of a camel going through the eye of a "sewing" needle.
In fact it is considered absurd.

A. The disciples express this problem and also try to indicate to us that the idea of impossibility is what they heard form Jesus. Mat. 19:25

B. But that is the very issue. v. 26, "It is impossible for man."

1. Jesus used the word "adunatos" to indicate exactly what He meant.
2. Man is helpless: Rom. 5:6

C. But with God all things are possible. God does the work and offers it freely to all men. Man cannot earn it and does not deserve it, BUT, man MUST accept it by faith or it remains an unclaimed gift unavailing to those who accept it.

8. To deal with the absurdity of the figure, scholars have played with the word for camel.

A. The word for camel is, "kamālos".
B. There are several later manuscripts which have the word, "kamilos."
C. Some scholars claim that "kamilos" is the original and means "rope."
D. This reduces the absurdity and impossibility to a difficulty but still "possible" act.
E. The problem is that no such word exists in NT Greek. Kamilos may indeed be a later addition to the language, and truly ancient "to us," but nonexistent before 150 AD.

F. The rise of kamilos for kamālos can be explained by the evolution of the pronunciation of the language.

G. As early as AD 150, the "eta" was being pronounced like an "iota."
So it is not a surprise to see the form kamilos in place of kamālos. (Robertson, page 191).

H. Also, there is no need to try to compromise the severity of the figure since Jesus used such severity elsewhere as in Mat. 23:24.

 

Verse 25,

And when the disciples heard {this,} they were very astonished and said,
"Then who can be saved?"

The disciples recognize the significance of what Jesus is saying and carry it to its ultimate application as they ask, "Who then IS ABLE to be saved?" But that is the very issue as mentioned above.

Verse 26,

"It is impossible for man."

A. Jesus used the word "adunatos" to indicate exactly what He meant.
B. Man is helpless: Rom. 5:6
C. But with God all things are possible.

1. John 1:13, The new birth comes through God's actions in response to trust in Christ (John 1:12). It does not result from man's self-determination, natural abilities or genetic status.

2. God is able to save completely. Heb. 7:25,

a. eis to pantelās: adjective = complete, perfect, absolute.

b. pas + telos, qualitative and temporal = absolutely.

c. The prepositional phrase is adverbial in function so the idea is "absolutely."

3. Those who come to God through Him: proserchomai (present middle participle) used to indicate the initial EXPRESSION of faith in Christ.

4. In other words, God's "ability" to save is dependent on man "accepting" by faith the offered gift of salvation.

Verses 27-30

Peter, as usual, the spokesman for the group of disciples, wants to know what will be their reward for following Christ.

Verse 27,

Then Peter answered and said to Him,
"Behold, we have left everything and followed You;
what then will there be for us?"

The real issue is NOT "left everything," but "followed" Christ.

The idea of "leaving everything" is relative. Jesus did not command everyone to leave everything and come and "literally" follow Him.
He only had 12 disciples with Him, although upon occasions, He sent out a much larger number (Luke 10:1). But there were also times when he told the convert to go home and minister within his own community (Mat. 9:6; Mark 5:19; 8:26).
Leaving material possessions is not the issue unless material possessions are the cause of rich-mindedness in the person. Paul puts this in perfect perspective at 1 Tim. 6:5-19, especially at verse 17.

"Instruct those who are rich in this present age,
not to be conceited or to put their confidence in the uncertainty of riches,
but on God, Who abundantly supplies us with all things for enjoyment."

 

To Peter's question, Jesus gives two answers. First the specific reward for the 12 disciples (minus Judas and + Paul) which is recorded only by Matthew.

Verse 28,

And Jesus said to them,
"Truly I say to you, that you who have followed Me,
in the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on His glorious throne,
you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

1. The issue here of "followed me" refers to their specific function in time, as disciples of Christ and the reward based on Christ's appointment rather than on their faithfulness. It excludes Judas, not because he did not "hang in there" but because he was never a believer in the first place (John 6:70-71). The other disciples failed as well (with the possible exception of John), as is so graphically demonstrated by Peter's three denials, but since their salvation was secured by a genuine "initial" trust in Christ as Messiah-savior, that salvation was not affected by personal sins that occurred later in life. And since the "reward" of reigning on 12 thrones over Israel is based on divine appointment, in this case, and not "faithfulness," it too is secure.

2. In the regeneration: the word is, paliggenesia (only occurs here) and refers to the "physical" quality of life that follows this natural one.

In other words, in the resurrection life and specifically, during the 1000 year reign of the Messiah, when Israel will exist as a nation, populated by people in natural bodies. It is possible that this is what God referred to when He spoke through Jeremiah, "then I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will feed you on knowledge and understanding," (Jer. 3:15).

We know that all the church, in fact the bride as a whole, will sit on thrones, reigning with Christ on the earth, during His earthly kingdom (Rev. 5:10; 1 Cor. 6:2), but here, Jesus refers to a function just for the 12 apostles of the Lamb which involves special interaction with the nation of Israel.

3. The word, judging, is krino (present active participle) and simply means to administrate evaluation type activity over them. The description at Jeremiah 3:15, adequately represents the idea of krino in this context.

 

The second answer is "general" and refers to all who have trusted in Christ as savior.

 

Verse 29,

"And everyone who has left houses (Luke 18:29 adds, "or wife.")
or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or farms for My name's sake,
shall receive many times as much, and shall inherit eternal life."

 

There are two things to observe about this statement.

First, we have in view "temporal" rewards and then, second, an eternal reward.

The participation in the "temporal" reward refers to "substitute" value. That is, the experience of something that is greater and more valuable than the material things of this life.

Luke records it like this: Luke 18:30a,

who shall not receive many times as much AT THIS TIME . . ."

Paul said as much at 1 Tim. 6:6,

"but genuine worship (godliness) is a means of great gain,
WHEN accompanied with contentment."

Contentment is the attitude that recognizes God as the source and the controller of all our material things. "The Lord gives and the Lord takes away, praised be the name of the Lord," (Job 1:21b). "The Lord makes poor and rich; He brings low, He also exalts," (1 Sam. 2:7).

It is the attitude that is content with what God has provided, knowing that His wisdom and timing is the best there is. Knowing, that "He works all things together for benefit to those who love Him," (Rom. 8:28).

And knowing that we are not left here on earth to "make full use" of the things of the world (1 Cor. 7:31), but instead to "promote undistracted devotion to the Lord," (1 Cor. 7:35) and "to proclaim the virtues of Him who called us out of darkness into His awesome light," (1 Peter 2:9).

Paul summarized it at Philip. 3:8,

"More than that, I conclude all things to be expendable (loss)
because of the SURPASSING VALUE of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord,. . ."

The Christian way of life; knowing and using God's fantastic truths, is the most valuable and rewarding activity in the universe. Through such "grace orientation" there is true exaltation and promotion in this earthly life; promotion based on what God thinks is most important. James writes, "Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you," (James 4:10).

Peter summarizes this "promotion" and quality of life by saying, "For you were called for this very purpose, so that you might inherit blessing. For, let him who wants to love LIFE and see GOOD DAYS - - -

REFRAIN HIS TONGUE FROM EVIL AND HIS LIPS FROM SPEAKING GUILE.
"AND LET HIM TURN AWAY FROM EVIL AND DO GOOD;
LET HIM SEEK PEACE AND PURSUE IT.
"FOR THE EYES OF THE LORD ARE UPON THE RIGHTEOUS,
AND HIS EARS ATTEND TO THEIR PRAYER,
BUT THE FACE OF THE LORD IS AGAINST THOSE WHO DO EVIL."

And who is there to harm you if you prove zealous for what is good? (1 Peter 3:9-13).

 

This is talking about reward IN THIS LIFE, here on earth, that results from "following the Lord."

Mark records the same idea, but shows us the hyperbole that Jesus used in telling us about these "temporal" rewards.

Mark 10:30,

"but that he shall receive a hundred times as much now in the present age,
houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms,
along with persecutions. . ."

Even with the hyperbole, it is clear that the believer will be able to participate in the "normal" things of life - marriage, family, business - thus clarifying that the "sacrifice" of these things in the first place is a "mental attitude" recognition of greater value, rather than a removal of these things from one's life.

He also points out, that along with the "blessings" of this life, there will be periods of persecution which will hinder "full" participation in these "normal" things of life. The believer must have the attitude of contentment as earlier discussed, and "grow up" spiritually to the point of learning with Paul,

"how to be content in whatever circumstances I am.
I know how to experience deficiency, and I also know how to prosper.
In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry,
both of having abundance and being deficient," (Philip. 4:11-12).

 

But it is important to observe the "motivations" for such sacrifice in life.

Mark 10:29, ". . . for My sake and for the gospel's sake."

Luke 18:29, ". . . for the sake of the kingdom of God."

There is a spiritual conflict going on between God and the fallen angels; the forces of light and the forces of darkness. And the believer is right in the middle of this conflict. Paul tells us, "in order that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made know THROUGH the church to the rulers and the authorities IN THE HEAVENLIES (Ie, Angels)," (Eph. 3:10). Because of this conflict, the believer remains here on earth as the personal representative of Christ, and as such, becomes the object of Satan's attacks. In fact, it has been that way since the beginning, when God created the human race and set it up as His "spiritual" weapon to demonstrate to the fallen angels the true sinfulness of their rebellion and the righteousness of God in sentencing them to the lake of fire.

This is the whole purpose for the existence of the human race; the fall of man; the provision of the Savior and the ultimate victory of that Savior in defeating the forces of Satan both spiritually and physically.

For this reason, God showcases those of His people who are righteous and who walk consistently in their integrity. It is such ones as these who prove to Satan that God's way is truly the best way to go. This is the key to understanding why physical suffering comes upon God's people, for "the testing of your faith produces patience" (James 1:2) and cultivates spiritual growth, maturity and effectiveness as personal ambassadors for Christ.

True orientation to divine viewpoint is recognizing that there is greater things in this life than material possessions. Promotion of the person and work of Christ (the gospel) is the most important endeavor for the one who claims to be following the Lord.

However, following the Lord is premised upon the initial faith decision to trust in Him as Lord and savior. That is, the only one who can "truly" follow the Lord and promote the spiritual value of the gospel is one who has trusted in Christ as savior.

And the "reward" for that faith decision to trust in Him is everlasting life.

Luke 18:30b,

"and in the age to come, everlasting life."

 

Everlasting life is NOT the result of "following" the Lord, it is the result of believing in Him. But one cannot, indeed, WILL NOT follow the Lord unless they have first truly trusted in Him. It is that expression of trust and dependence that Jesus is directing the young ruler to focus on.

Verse 30,

"But many {who are} first will be last; and {the} last, first.

This is simply a statement that recognizes and proclaims the reality of equality in status among those those who have "entered into life" through faith in Christ. The bride is comprised of ALL who have trusted in Christ as savior, and regardless of "individual" production (1 Cor. 3;15), she will stand before the Lamb clothed collectively, "in fine linen bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints," (Rev. 19:8).


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İRon Wallace, http://www.biblefragrances.com. Anyone is free to reproduce this material and distribute it,
but it may not be sold under any circumstances whatsoever without the author's consent.

 

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