With God All Things Are Possible
Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”
“Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.”
“Which ones?” he inquired.
Jesus replied, “‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother,’ and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’”
“All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?”
Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich 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 astonished and asked, “Who then can be saved?”
Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:16-26)
Sometimes I think Jesus absolutely delighted in shaking up the disciples’ world. He regularly challenged the status quo and gave His followers a whole new perspective on matters. The story in today’s text is a prime example. His willingness to let the rich young man walk away because of the man’s love of money didn’t make sense to those around Jesus. In Jewish life in those days, wealth was a sign of God’s favor. The wealthy were “obviously” blessed by God and were certainly “saved” in their belief system.
So when Jesus said, “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 heaven,” it was devastating to the disciples. Their response showed alarm: “Who then can be saved?” If rich people can’t make it, how do the rest of us have any hope at all?
Jesus went vertical on them. He spoke with heaven’s perspective on the issue. Wealth is a major obstacle because the wealth itself becomes an object of worship. In the case of this young man, Jesus’ instruction was absolutely radical. Get rid of your wealth and then follow me! It was a clear action step directed at this individual, but the principle behind it is for all of us. Leave behind whatever gets in the way of whole-hearted discipleship. It doesn’t have to be wealth, but other things in our lives that rob God of His glory. Going vertical with Jesus puts everything into its proper place and perspective.
Listen: Spend a few quiet moments seeking God. Be attentive to whatever He may speak to your heart.
Reflect: How is the Spirit leading you to respond to what you have heard from God?
Confess and Repent: If there is something the Spirit convicts you of, take time to prayerfully confess it. Resolve to turn from it if it is sin, or step toward whatever He is leading you into that you have either neglected or not seen before.
Ask: Lord Jesus, it seems like such a difficult thing You asked of this rich young man. Yet You saw into his heart and wanted what was best for him. You knew what would set him free and gave him the opportunity to make the right choice. Thank You for doing the same for me. Help me to bring everything to You. Give me the strength to lay aside anything that might hinder my whole-hearted love and commitment to follow You wherever You might lead.
- Is there anything that blocks you from wholehearted commitment to God? Identify each “idol” in your life that robs the Father of your kingdom potential.
- Have you ever felt led to give away something precious to you? Did you do it? How did it feel? If not, consider loosening your grip on something that could be used for God’s purposes in the life of someone else.
- Even good things that are ministry-related can be kept in a horizontal plane. What have you been keeping to yourself that God does not have full reign over? Prayerfully turn it over to His control.
Taken from Vertical with Jesus by David and Kim Butts. © 2022 PrayerShop Publishing.