17 As He was setting out on a journey, a man ran up to Him and knelt before Him, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 18 And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone. 19 “You know the commandments, ‘DO NOT MURDER, DO NOT COMMIT ADULTERY, DO NOT STEAL, DO NOT BEAR FALSE WITNESS, Do not defraud, HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER.’ “ 20 And he said to Him, “Teacher, I have kept all these things from my youth up.” 21 Looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him and said to him, “One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” 22 But at these words he was saddened, and he went away grieving, for he was one who owned much property. 23 And Jesus, looking around, said to His disciples, “How hard it will be for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God!” 24 The disciples were amazed at His words. But Jesus answered again and said to them, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! 25 “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.” 26 They were even more astonished and said to Him, “Then who can be saved?” 27 Looking at them, Jesus said, “With people it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God.” 28 Peter began to say to Him, “Behold, we have left everything and followed You.” 29 Jesus said, “Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or farms, for My sake and for the gospel’s sake, 30 but that he will 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; and in the age to come, eternal life. 31 “But many who are first will be last, and the last, first.”
Many of us don’t consider ourselves wealthy, so when we read this passage, we feel as though it doesn’t apply to us. Be careful! This principle isn’t about money; it is about selfishness. Notice how Jesus doesn’t talk about having money, but a house, brothers, sisters, parents…he is talking about simply having “enough” in our lives to be satisfied with our current way of life. This is the wealth to which He is referring. Generally, we skip over the first couple of verses in this passage and focus on the whole money thing, but look at Jesus’ first rebuke of this man, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone.” This word wasn’t just in reference to goodness, but a place of honor and Jesus sets the tone of the conversation by saying, “Only God deserves the place of honor, not even Me.”
We work so hard trying to be “good,” looking for a place of honor if even secretly, expecting to inherit eternal life. It is this religious tendency of man, to earn his way, that fools us all into thinking we actually can. Our human minds cause us to focus on this, whether disregarding it or regarding it as something worth achieving; we have put the ideal of goodness in place of God Himself. Even if we decide it is not something worth achieving, we are at the very least acknowledging it is something to achieve. The young man in this story obviously chose to seek out achieving goodness, but realized that goodness cannot be achieve or earned, only given.
Our inheritance of eternal life has nothing to do with what we earn or possess, rather what we are willing to give up. This is why it is so difficult for a “wealthy” person to enter the Kingdom. Either it is because they feel as though they don’t need the Kingdom or as in the case of this man, they are afraid to give up what they have. The core principle here again is faith. They choose not to trust in God, rather they trust in the things they have. This is why it is said that Jesus came for the poor and rejected, because it is much easier for them to receive the Kingdom of God because they have nothing to lose. In the beginning of the Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, He tells us in Matthew 5:
3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
The poor, rejected, downcast, and oppressed are already poor in spirit. The rest of us have to get there and we do so by recognizing that we have to first let go of those things we trust in more than God. It breaks our hearts; it scares us; it makes us vulnerable; but it is necessary. But how do we do it? The disciples asked Jesus for the secret since anyone who feels they have any sort of wealth in their lives will have difficulty. Jesus says, “With God.” We must surrender to His will and ask for His help to do so. Even to get to the point to forsake our kin and family inheritance. We have to trust God that what He has is much more valuable than all this. It isn’t to say we must cut everyone off in our lives, but we must not regard them more important than God Himself.