What Jesus Did! 'Want to be Perfect?' — Matthew 19:21-22

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Jesus answered, "If you want to be perfect, then go and sell all the things you own. Give the money to the poor people. If you do this, you will have a rich treasure in heaven. Then come and follow me!" But when the man heard this, he was very sad. The man was very rich {and wanted to keep his money}. So he left Jesus.
— Matthew 19:21-22
Illustration of Matthew 19:21-22 — "If you want to be perfect, then go and sell all the things you own. Give the money to the poor people. If you do this, you will have a rich treasure in heaven. Then come and follow me!"

Key Thought

It's the "because" word that is most important here. Jesus moved past commands to the heart issue for the young man—he had great wealth and it was what separated him from total loyalty to God. To follow Jesus meant to leave everything behind for the work of the Kingdom, and the young man could not leave this behind. It is easy for us to be trivial with Jesus' demand. We can say, "Wealth was his God, or having many possessions was his problem, but that Jesus doesn't demand we all sell everything we have." This is both correct and dangerous. It is correct in that the observation is true. It is dangerous, because the same barrier holds many of us back from Jesus. Many of us are affluent by world standards, but middle class by our affluent cultures standards. Let's not remove the demand of Jesus too quickly from our hearts. Let's let it linger long enough to see if we would react differently than the young man. Let's be honest about the grip that possessions, wealth, convenience, and power have on us. There was no joy for the rich young man in his decision to keep what he had acquired. There was only sadness: sadness that he had found the Kingdom, but wouldn't pay the price, and sadness that he rejected the Kingdom to keep what he valued most. The real question for me is what do I value most? Do we choose to hold on to it or to follow Jesus?

Today's Prayer

Holy God, I let so many things distract me from an undiluted devotion to you. I don't want to live that way. I want every breath I breathe to be spent serving and honoring you for your incredible sacrifice of Jesus to buy my salvation and to give me your grace. Please forgive my failures, sins, inconsistencies, mistakes, and lapses in passion. Please help empower me to live more fully to your praise. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.

Today's Verses in Context

Then the people brought their little children to Jesus so that Jesus could put his hands on them and pray for them. When the followers saw this, they told the people to stop bringing their children to Jesus. But Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me. Don't stop them, because the kingdom of heaven belongs to people that are like these children." After Jesus put his hands on the children, he left there. A man came to Jesus and asked, "Teacher, what good thing must I do to have life forever?" Jesus answered, "Why do you ask me about what is good? Only God is good. But if you want to have life forever, obey the commands." The man asked, "Which commands?" Jesus answered, "'You must not murder anyone, you must not do the sin of adultery, you must not steal anything, you must not tell lies about other people, you must honor (respect) your father and mother,' and 'you must love other people the same as you love yourself.' " The young man said, "I have obeyed all these things. What else do I need?" Jesus answered, "If you want to be perfect, then go and sell all the things you own. Give the money to the poor people. If you do this, you will have a rich treasure in heaven. Then come and follow me!" But when the man heard this, he was very sad. The man was very rich {and wanted to keep his money}. So he left Jesus. Then Jesus said to his followers, "I tell you the truth. It will be very hard for a rich person to enter the kingdom of heaven. Yes, I tell you that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God." When the followers heard this, they were very surprised. They asked, "Then who can be saved?" Jesus looked at his followers and said, "This is something that people cannot do themselves. But God can do all things." Peter said to Jesus, "We left everything we had and followed you. So what will we have?" Jesus said to the followers, "I tell you the truth. When the new world is made, the Son of Man willsit on his great throne. And all of you that followed me will also sit on thrones. You will sit on twelve thrones and you will judge the twelve family groups of Israel. And every person that has left houses, brothers, sisters, father, mother, children, or farms to follow me will get much more than he left. And that person will have life forever. Many people that have the highest place in life now will have the lowest place in the future. And many people that have the lowest place now will have the highest place in the future.

Matthew 19:13-30

Related Scripture Readings

"The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field. One day a man found the treasure. The man was very happy to find the treasure. He hid the treasure in the field again. The man went and sold everything that he owned to buy that field. "Also, the kingdom of heaven is like a salesman looking for fine pearls. One day the salesman found a very fine pearl. The salesman went and sold everything he had to buy that pearl.

Matthew 13:44-46

I tell you that you must do better than the teachers of the law and the Pharisees. If you are not better people, then you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 5:20

Even if I am able to trust in myself, still I don't trust in myself. If any other person thinks that he has a reason to trust in himself, then he should know that I have a greater reason for trusting in myself. I was circumcised eight days after my birth. I am from the people of Israel and the family group of Benjamin. I am a Hebrew (Jew), and my parents were Hebrews. The law {of Moses} was very important to me. That is why I became a Pharisee. I was so excited {about my Jewish religion} that I persecuted the church (the believers). No person could find fault with the way I always obeyed the law {of Moses}. At one time all these things were important to me. But I decided that those things are worth nothing because of Christ. Not only those things, but now I think that all things are worth nothing compared with the greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. Because of Christ, I lost all those things {I thought were important}. And now I know that all those things are worthless trash. This allows me to have Christ. It allows me to be in Christ. In Christ I am right with God, and this being right does not come from my following the law. It comes from God through faith. God uses my faith in Christ to make me right with him.

Philippians 3:4-9

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About This Devotional

What Jesus Did is a one-year devotional guide through the gospels, using one short passage each day and following the Gospel in consecutive order. Each devotional consists of a passage, reflection and a prayer which opens up the day's scripture and shows how it challenges you to live for Jesus.

What Jesus Did! is written by Phil Ware.

Easy-to-Read Version copyright © 2001 by World Bible Translation Center. All rights reserved.