Beginning of the
Judean Ministry (19:1,2)
Marriage and Divorce (19:3-12)
Wealth and the Kingdom of God (19:16-30)
The rich young
Grace and reward
Divorce, at the
beginning, adultery, accept, kingdom of heaven, little children.
1. The Pharisees
were hoping that Jesus would either 1) condone divorce, which would bring Him
into direct conflict with those who held that divorce was not permissible
except for sexual sins, or 2) forbid divorce, which would bring Him into
apparent contradiction with the Mosaic law.
2. Instead of
focusing His teaching on the subject of divorce, the Lord placed emphasis on
marriage. Only with the correct understanding of God’s intended purpose in
marriage can we understand the command against divorce.
3a. Marriage was
in God’s mind when He created human beings. That is why He created them male
and female. Husband and wife are not two, but one. No one should separate the
marriage union, because it is a divine institution.
3b. Divorce is
against God’s intended purpose. Except for sexual immorality, divorce and
remarriage is adultery.
4a. According to
God’s command, man may not separate what God has joined together. In Moses’
law, however, God did allow for the possibility of divorce, although the thrust
of Deuteronomy 24:1-4 is on the prohibition against remarrying one’s spouse
after divorce, rather than the permission to divorce. The Pharisees and many
others had misunderstood God’s intended purpose of marriage and put more
emphasis on what was permitted than what was commanded. So the Lord Jesus
turned their attention to the origin of marriage and the command against
divorce, and pointed out that the permission for divorce was only a result of
the peoples’ hardness of heart.
4b. Like the
Pharisees, we may sometimes also try to find “loopholes” in God’s word so as to
justify our disobedience. We should learn to actively do God’s will rather than
find excuses for our reluctance. The Corinthian believers thought that since
“everything was permissible,” they could exercise their freedom even if it
would hurt the conscience of another. But Paul taught them to always seek the
good of others so as to build them up (1Cor 10:23-33).
5. Some choose to
not marry in order to focus on the things of the Lord (cf
1Cor 7:32). But celibacy is not a requirement for entering the Kingdom of
heaven. Those who have not been given the gift may choose to marry (1Cor 7:9).
6a. They probably either looked down on the children or thought
that they were hindering the Lord’s work.
6b. It is easy
for us to “despise the little ones” or anyone who doesn’t seem important (Mt
18:10). Perhaps in our zeal to serve God, we have neglected those around us who
seem to be in the way of our service (e.g. the Priest and Levite in the story
of the good Samaritan).
7. God is pleased
with those who have the humility and innocence of children (18:3). The children
were coming to Jesus to receive His blessings. This shows their humility. If we
humbly acknowledge our need of God’s help and sincerely want to be close to
Him, He will gladly hear us.
8. The young man
was probably hoping that Jesus would show him some secret path (good things) to
eternal life. But the Lord Jesus reminded him that there is no other way to
eternal life except through God alone and through obedience to God.
9. Even though
the Lord did not spell out the first four commandments, He implied them in 17
and 21. The Israelites had been worshippers of God, even though sometimes only
on the surface, and they had been keeping the first four commandments very
strictly. This is probably why the Lord started out with the ones that have to
do with loving one’s neighbor, so as to teach that our love for God is only
made complete if we also have love for others. The young man thought that he
had loved God and his neighbor. But as we will see in the next question, Jesus
exposed the man’s failure to love God by pointing out his unwillingness to love
others. In doing so, He not only brought out the spirit of the commandments,
but also established a close connection between the first four and the last
10. The young man
believed that he had kept the commands to love others. But when told to sell
his possessions and give them to the poor, his lack of love surfaced. Not only
so, his riches hindered him from following the Lord. This showed that he loved
his wealth more than he loved God.
The young man had superficially kept the
commandments (such as refraining from murder, adultery, idolatry, blasphemy),
but he had actually failed to keep the spirit of God’s command—loving God and
loving men. Once again, the Lord taught the necessity of obeying God from the
heart as the law in the kingdom of heaven (cf. 5:17-6:18)
11a. We cannot love both God and wealth (6:24). Since it is hard
for the rich to give up their possessions, it is difficult for them to love
11b. It is not the riches that make a person unfit for God’s
kingdom. If it is, then people such as Abraham or Job would not be in God’s
kingdom. What prevents people from entering God’s kingdom is their love for
their riches and their unwillingness to give them up for God.
Everyone, whether rich or poor, tends to
cherish themselves and their desires. But being a disciple entails denying
ourselves. Only if we forsake what is important to us (e.g. pride, lust,
comfort) so as to accomplish God’s will can we be true citizens of God’s kingdom
(cf. Php 3:4-8).
11c. We need to give up ownership of our possessions. In other
words, we are simply managers of God’s possessions. Whenever we see people in
need, we should help them with what God has entrusted to us.
12. Salvation is
possible because of God’s grace, not our own efforts. Although with the
requirements that the Lord had laid down, it seems impossible to enter God’s
kingdom, God will enable us if we trust Him with a simple faith (Eph 2:8-10).
13. Unlike the
rich young man, the disciples had given up all that had been important to them
in order to follow the Lord. In other words, they had met the requirement of
discipleship. So Peter wanted to know what they would receive as a result of
giving up these things of the kingdom. The Lord’s answer is in 28-29.
15. According to
the context, “Many who are first will be last” (30a) refers to how difficult it
is for the many who take pride in what they have to enter God’s kingdom. “The
last first” (30b) means that everyone who humbly gives up what they cherish and
follows Christ will enter God’s kingdom, even though they may seem
insignificant or even foolish according to popular standards.