Luke 18:18-27 (NIV)
18 A certain ruler asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
19 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good–except God alone.
20 You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.'”
21 “All these I have kept since I was a boy,” he said.
22 When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
23 When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was a man of great wealth.
24 Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!
25 Indeed, 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 Those who heard this asked, “Who then can be saved?”
27 Jesus replied, “What is impossible with men is possible with God.”
On verses 18-27: Is it necessary that a person must sell all their assets and give every material good they own to the poor in order to inherit eternal life? No.
So what was Jesus doing by telling the young man to sell everything he has and give to the poor? Here, with surgical precision Jesus was getting to the heart of the matter for this young man, which is that as passionate as this young man was about trying to obey the ten commandments, there was something that his heart clung to more than God: his own money. Whereas the young man was trying hard to justify himself and to earn his own salvation, Jesus was trying to help the young man see that he could not justify himself, that he was trying to do “what is impossible” (v27), that he too needed a Saviour to save him from his sins, for “what is impossible with men is possible with God” (v27).
Through these verses Luke is further reinforcing the message that we cannot earn salvation through our own hard work and effort. Because of the broken, sinful condition of our hearts, we all need a Saviour to save us from our sins. What is impossible with men is possible with God.
Why then does Jesus say it is so hard for the rich to enter to the kingdom of God (v24)? It is because rich people will tend to struggle with putting their hope in their own wealth, wisdom and abilities instead of putting their hope in God. So what attitude should Christians have toward money and material possessions? While selling everything we have and giving it all to the poor is not a necessary pre-condition to salvation, we still should have an attitude of surrender to God when it comes to money and material possessions. As followers of Jesus we should take on the attitude that everything we have belongs to God, that God can do whatever He wants with what we have, and that for as long as we have wealth we will use it for God’s glory and God’s purposes.
Luke 18:28-30 (NIV)
28 Peter said to him, “We have left all we had to follow you!”
29 “I tell you the truth,” Jesus said to them, “no one who has left home or wife or brothers or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God
30 will fail to receive many times as much in this age and, in the age to come, eternal life.”
On verses 28-30: After hearing Jesus tell the young man to sell everything and give to the poor, Peter (who sometimes spoke out loud what the other disciples were thinking) exclaims, “What about us? We have left all we had to follow you.” (v28) Jesus responds in effect by saying that what we give to God or leave for God cannot compare to all that we receive from Him, both during our lives on earth and for eternity.
Heavenly Father, I pray that I would have the right perspective on money and material possessions, knowing that everything I own is really Yours, that You can do as You want with it all, and that for as long as I own anything I will use it for Your glory and Your purposes. Thank You that there is greater joy and peace in living with that kind of perspective than to hang onto money as if it’s all for me. Thank You that while I can never save myself through my own hard work, You sent Your Son to live the life I could not live and through His death to save me from my sins. In Jesus’ name, AMEN!