“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3).
There is no better analogy of what happens when we enter into a relationship with Christ at conversion than the birth of a child. Conversion marks the start of a new life that never before existed. Also, just as we did not birth ourselves physically, neither can we birth ourselves spiritually—it is a work of God. Finally, both birth and the new birth of conversion brings us into a family. It is a celebration of life.
“For it would be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn away from the holy commandment handed on to them” (2 Peter 2:21).
With knowledge comes responsibility. To be entrusted with Divine Truth; the knowledge of the resurrected and exalted Savior; the Pearl of great price, is significant. It has been handed down from generation to generation and now rests with us. We must not act ignorantly with the knowledge we have been given.
“And looking at them Jesus said to them, ‘With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible’” (Matthew 19:26).
Hearing the demands set before the rich young ruler and the expectations of the law, one is left wondering, like the disciples, if salvation is even possible (v.25). That’s the very point Jesus is making. The demands of God’s word make us keenly aware of our need for a Savior. Apart from him there is no life. The cross of Jesus says that God has accomplished for us what we could have never achieved for ourselves.
“Jesus said to him, ‘If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me’” (Matthew 19:21).
Don’t miss the healthy tension this verse creates. I don’t want to so particularize Jesus’ words as something pertinent for this man alone, that I miss out on what it can mean for me. I am no less vulnerable to the clenching vises of greed and covetousness than this man. Thus, the hypnotic intoxication of investment is broken by the divesting call of “follow Me.” In daily so doing, we discover the only true investment.
“Then he said to Him, ‘Which ones?’ And Jesus said, ‘You shall not commit murder; you shall not steal; your shall not bear false witness; honor your father and mother; and you shall love your neighbor as yourself’” (Matthew 19:18-19).
It’s telling that Jesus would focus this inquiring young man’s attention to the second table of the law; those dealing with human relationships. While anyone can offer a subjective confession to the primacy of God, emphasized in the first table of the law, it is our dealings with real people that bear the more objective evidence of how our faith is being borne out. It is this neighbor love that speaks the real “God story” of our lives.
“Then he said to Him, ‘Which ones?’” (Matthew 19:18).
As believers, saved by grace through faith, do not find off-putting Jesus’ instructions to the rich young ruler to keep the commandments (v.17) if he wishes to enter into life. While the law made us keenly aware of the need for a Savior, the heart of faith desires nonetheless to honor the teachings of God’s word. Of greater alarm is the question of the young man and his desire to settle for the least common denominator. It’s not unlike the student asking, “Is this going to be on the test?” To live under the banner of Christ’ Lordship is to set the bar to a place of greatest heights in all things, not some things.
“And He said to him, ‘Why are asking Me about what is good? There is only One who is good; but if you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments’” (Matthew 19:17).
To the question of the rich young ruler, “What good thing shall I do that I may obtain eternal life? (v.16),” Jesus offers a significant corrective understanding. First, he speaks of life rather than eternal life because the only true life is eternal life. Apart from this true life is only death. Secondly, rather than just another thing to be obtained and added to our possessions, this life is something to be entered into. It is a road to be traveled; not a commodity to be purchased. Because God alone is good, the pursuit of our life becomes that which is pleasing to him.