Sunday School: Why Did Jesus Say…?
Written by Jenn Arman | July 7, 2013
Have you ever wished you were rich? Or maybe you’ve never technically wished to be rich, but wished you had all the money you needed to cover your and your family’s expenses, even if there wasn’t much left over? I have.
In Matthew chapter 19, we read about an encounter between Jesus and a wealthy young man. The man comes to Jesus with one question: “Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may obtain eternal life?” (Matt. 19:16) Jesus answers the young man’s question directly, “keep the commandments…go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me” (Matt. 19:17, 21).
Then, the Bible says that the man went away grieving because he was very rich (Matt. 19:22). Jesus turns to His disciples and finishes the lesson like this:
Truly I say to you, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. 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 (Matt. 19:23-24).
Why would Jesus say this? Does the Son of God have something against rich people?
Jesus doesn’t have anything against rich people. In fact, we need to remember that James says,
Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow (James 1:17).
So this man’s riches were one of those good things given by the Father of lights. Let’s look back at what the man asked Jesus:
What good deed must I do to have eternal life? (NLT)
The man asked the wrong question. He didn’t ask the Son of God for eternal life, and He didn’t ask to follow Jesus. He asked what deed he could do to gain eternal life. Jesus gave him the right answer according to scripture. The only way for humans to earn eternal life is to keep the commandments perfectly. We can’t do this, and that’s why God sent Jesus to die for us.
The second point Jesus was making with the rich young ruler is that his riches caused him to trust himself more than he trusted God. When the man heard Jesus tell him to sell all his possessions and give all of his wealth to the poor, he wasn’t pleased at the prospect of caring for the poor and following after God completely; the Bible says he was grieved. Rather than be excited about such an opportunity to serve God, he was grieved over the thought of losing his stuff.
Jesus exposed the man’s heart; he wanted his stuff and his wealth more than he wanted God.
Jesus has nothing against people for being rich. Jesus is always concerned with our hearts. My husband and I aren’t rich, but I know that when things are going well for us and we’re making enough money to cover all of our bills, any extra repairs and to do some fun stuff now and then, I start trusting God a little less.
I go from trusting in God to meet every need to trusting our paychecks to meet every need. It’s amazing how quickly that change can happen. That’s what Jesus was pointing out to the man – he trusted and loved his stuff more than God. Riches are not bad, but sometimes wealth does some not-so-good things to our hearts. This is why we always need to make sure that we submit everything in our lives to the will of God, even our money.
Girls, does your “stuff” ever get in the way of your relationship with Jesus?
Jesus said to them, ‘Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man is seated on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields, for My name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold, and will inherit eternal life’ (Matthew 19:28-29)
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