1. Have you ever been stopped for a traffic violation?
2. If so, for which violation were you stopped?
True confessions: I have been stopped for speeding—just slightly over the posted limit. Actually it was in 1971 and I was not paying attention and was exceeding the limit by around 12 mph.
3. How did you respond to the policeman when he told you why you were stopped?
Suppose you were stopped for speeding and you told the policeman you had used your turn signals and were courteous to other drivers.
4. How would he have responded? (“That is commendable, but you broke the law by speeding and you must suffer the consequences!”)
Matthew 19 tells of a man who was seeking eternal life. He was trying to fulfill all the requirements, but he was concerned he might be leaving something out. He, like many people today, thought eternal life had to be earned. He turned to Jesus for help; Jesus demonstrated that He alone offers eternal life to those who follow Him.
As Jesus and the disciples were traveling to Jerusalem, large crowds followed. Jesus entertained questions from the people. Some were from people honestly seeking to learn, others were designed to trap Jesus, as was the question in 3 of chapter 19 concerning marriage. Our focal passage deals with an honest seeker.
Standard Defined! Read Matthew 19:16-20
1. What does this young man’s question reveal about his assumption concerning “eternal life”? (That there was something he could do to earn or deserve eternal life.)
2. To what was the man referring as good?
3. What do we, as Christians, know about acts of goodness with regard to salvation? (They do not earn us salvation, they are at least partial evidence that we are a Christian. They are not the root but the fruit of our salvation.)
4. What did Jesus try to teach the man about goodness in verse 17? (True goodness comes only from God. It also showed that our good acts could never be sufficient to earn salvation. Goodness was actually a person, Jesus; it is only through Him that we can gain salvation.)
5. How would you describe the young man’s response to Jesus’ statement about keeping the commandments? (“Just tell me which ones! I’ve got this!” Confident he would pass the test.)
6. Which commandments did Jesus start with on His list? (Our interactions with other people, the last six of the Ten Commandments given to Moses—except #10.)
7. Why do we limit the commandments we want to obey? (Those are the ones that we find relatively easy to obey. Then we look down on others who break the ones we obey. Many times we break the ones others find easy to obey!)
Sincere obedience follows the commandments of Scripture but also goes beyond the “letter of the law” and obeys from a heart of love for Christ.
8. What is the difference between outward performance and obedient trust in God? (The attitude of the heart—motivation! Are we counting on our performance to achieve on our own merit, or do we obey out of a heart of love.)
The minute we begin to refer to a “checklist” of commandments to obey, we have started trusting in ourselves, not in Christ through faith! While obedience often includes outward performance, acts of obedience are not a substitute for an attitude of trust, love, and surrender as we conform our will to His!
9. How would you describe the young man’s response to Jesus’ list of commandments? (Obviously, the man didn’t get it; he thought, based on these commands, that he was good enough.)
10. Which commandments did Jesus not name?
11. Why do you think He didn’t name these?
12. How do people today express the same attitude and beliefs as the young man?
13. How can trying to keep the commandments lead to insecurity?
Impossible to Keep! Read Matthew 19:21-22
The word “perfect” here can mean “complete”.
1. Is it necessary to sell everything you own in order to have eternal life in Jesus Christ? (It depends…does what you own come between you and God? Then yes, you must give it up.)
2. What in your life comes between you and God? (The first of the commandments God gave to His people addressed this issue: “You shall have no other gods before Me!” Ex. 20:3.)
3. In what did the young man trust for his security? (Wealth and possessions were of great importance to this young man. He couldn’t even get past the first commandment!)
4. What things do people hold on to that keep them from fully trusting Christ today? (In similar fashion, we tend to place our trust in other people, our jobs, our health, our intellectual abilities, our bank accounts, our houses, and other material possessions.)
5. Why do you think those things are so hard to let go?
6. How would you describe the young man’s actions to what Jesus told him?
7. Are you surprised at how easily Jesus lets people go when they decide to reject Him?
Provision to Accept! Read Matthew 19:23-26
1. What lesson did Jesus have for His disciples to learn from this encounter?
2. Why were the disciples so shocked at what Jesus said in verse 23? (It was commonly believed that riches were evidence of God’s blessings. If a person was wealthy then they were surely in God’s will.)
3. What do you suppose the disciples thought when they heard it was harder for a camel to go through a needle’s eye than for a rich man to be saved?
4. Does this mean money is inherently evil? (“The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.” 1 Tim. 6:10)
5. Why do you think it would be difficult for a very wealthy person to be saved? (They think they have everything they need!)
The reality is that wealth, more often than not, is a barrier to God’s gift of salvation rather than a sign of it!
6. How do Jesus’ words serve as a warning for us today?
7. How do His words give us hope today?
In Luke 18:27 Jesus said, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.”
Summarize and Challenge!
· The Old Testament law points to our inability to gain salvation by our own merit.
· What a person depends upon for security reveals what he or she trusts for salvation.
· Jesus offers salvation as a gift that can only be received by faith and never earned.
1. If the young man we studied about today had obeyed all of the law to the very best of his ability, why was he seeking more answers? (There was an emptiness in his heart that only Jesus could fill.)
2. Jesus pinpointed the young man’s real issue. If Jesus were to pinpoint your real issue, what would it be?
3. How would you respond?
4. What have you relinquished in order to follow Jesus?
5. What have been the results?
Jesus offers salvation as a gift that can only be received by faith in Him; salvation cannot be earned—it doesn’t matter how good you think you are, you can’t measure up to God’s perfect standards.
1. What comes between you and your complete surrender to the Lordship of Jesus?
2. How does that affect your ministry to others?
3. Is Jesus asking you to forsake or abandon something right now?
4. What is your response?