What Jesus Did! 'What Else?' — Matthew 19:17-20

Thursday, September 9, 2021

"Why ask me about what is good?" Jesus replied [to the man who asked what good deed must be done to have eternal life]. "There is only One who is good. But to answer your question — if you want to receive eternal life, keep the commandments."

"Which ones?" the man asked.

And Jesus replied: "'You must not murder. You must not commit adultery. You must not steal. You must not testify falsely. Honor your father and mother. Love your neighbor as yourself.'"

"I've obeyed all these commandments," the young man replied. "What else must I do?"

— Matthew 19:17-20 NLT

Key Thought

Wow, can you believe somebody actually had the audacity to say it! "I've obeyed all these, so what's next for me to check off my list so I can go to heaven?" We sometimes think a checklist might be nice so that we could check off the items we need to do to ensure our entry into heaven. Thankfully God didn't give us one. The Old Testament law was a list of commands and demands God gave, but no one could fulfill them. All fell short. Even worse, many tried to judge themselves by comparing themselves with others to see how many more things on the list they could check off than the other person (2 Corinthians 10:12). Most sad of all, in the process of checking lists and comparing righteousness, many forgot to give their hearts to God. They made something beautiful and precious into religious formality and facade. The young man in this story falls into this last category. He was not a bad person. In fact, compared to most in his day, he was probably most exemplary. But his list left little room for giving himself, and what he held most dear, to the Lord, as the next verses show (Matthew 19:21-22). It was the one "thing" he lacked, and it was everything, because he hadn't yielded his heart.

Today's Prayer

Holy and loving Father, I offer you my heart this day. I want my heart to be wholly yours — without shadows where I hide and without rival allegiances. I know there will be days in my future when I won't live up completely to that commitment, but with your Spirit's help and guidance, I will always try to yield my heart to you. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.

Related Scripture Readings

  • Matthew 15:7-9
  • Romans 3:9-10, 20-25
  • Galatians 5:4


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Illustration of Matthew 19:17-20 NLT — "What else must I do?"

About This Devotional

What Jesus Did! is a series of one-year devotional guides through each gospel, using one short scripture passage each day and following the Gospel in sequential order. Each devotional consists of a scripture passage and a reflection and a prayer which open up the day's scripture and show how it challenges you to live for Jesus.

What Jesus Did! is written by Phil Ware and is available in book form.

Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.