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Jesus -- the Guru #38

C. Allegiance to the New Religion

Read Matthew 19:16-30.

The Rich Young Man

16Now a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life ?”

17“Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, obey the commandments.”

18“Which ones?” the man inquired. Jesus replied, “ ‘Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony,19honor your father and mother,’ and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’’”

20“All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?”

21Jesus 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.”

22When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.

23Then Jesus said to his disciples, “I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.24Again I tell 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.”

25When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, “Who then can be saved?”

26Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

27Peter answered him, “We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?”

28Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.29And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.30But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.


In Jesus’ encounter with the rich young man, we see the Master’s teaching style. Jesus had two objectives. One objective was to teach the commitment of discipleship. (see 19:21, 27, 29) However, we will now be seeing Jesus moving His teaching even more to the purpose of His coming to earth.

Jesus was bringing a new religion. He was restoring the true religion that the religion of rules had obscured.

How do you see this religion of rules reflected in the man’s opening question in v. 16?

How do you see the inevitable uncertainty and guilt of this false religion reflected in the young man’s question in v. 20?

What was Jesus’ teaching purpose in v. 21? Can anyone be perfect as the religion of rules demands?

The young man had been taught that he could be perfect, that he had to be perfect if God was going to be pleased with him. He had tried very hard. (v. 20) Have you ever tried hard to follow all the religious rules but still felt frustrated and inadequate like this young man?

Jesus pushes the man to recognize how impossible and unfair the religion of rules is. He takes the commandment “Thou shalt not kill” as an example. Jesus says, “Just this one commandment requires not only that you not murder someone. It also requires that you help people who are suffering and dying, with all the resources you have!” (v. 21)

Who can do that? Who will do that? Is that required in order to please God?

That’s what the religion of rules teaches: You must be perfect!

The apostles express what the rich young man also was thinking: “Who then can be saved?” (v. 25) Jesus brought the young man and the disciples to recognize the injustice and impossibility of the religion of rules.

It is a man-made religion. It is a religion of oppression and control and pride, as we saw in Lesson Seven. It is not God’s religion. God is a God of love and forgiveness and encouragement. God’s religion is totally different.

God’s religion is a God-made, not a man-made, religion. It is a religion of what God does for us.

Jesus leads us to reject the religion of rules. He leads us to accept what God wants to give freely and fully “a hundred times” and “eternal life.” (v. 29)

Jesus teaches that those who think they are first because of this religion of rules will actually end up last. See the rich young man’s reaction in v. 22. Those who accept God’s religion will be first. They will find life and save their soul in freedom and joy and service. (v. 30; remember Mt. 16:25-26)

What religion have you been taught? Have you experienced the frustration and guilt and impossible burden of a man-made religion of rules, feeling the sadness of that rich young man? Do you want to be a disciple under God’s rule of love?

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