The Young Man & Jesus – Commandments Questions?

Did not the man ask what else does he need to do to get into heaven and stated that he followed all of the laws?” (Xander)

Interesting question actually. Maybe the kid didn’t know heaven was a possibility (Sadducee’s didn’t believe it for example)? But what was he asking:

And someone came to Him and said, “Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may obtain eternal life?” (Matt 19:16)

He wanted to earn his way into heaven or thought there was some trick to this process – like ‘one thing’ he could to do ensure his entrance into eternity.

Jesus’ answer “And He said to him, “Why are you asking Me about what is good? There is only One who is good; but if you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.” (Matt 19:17)

Jesus makes this crystal clear here: (a) God is the only good One (not himself); (b) keep (follow) the commandments to ensure eternity

The young man admits to following the commandments but then asks “what am I still lacking?” (Matt 19:20)

Jesus’ response ““If you wish to be complete/perfect, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” (Matt 19:21)

If the young man wishes to be ‘complete or perfected’ in his journey – sell it all, give it away (to the poor), and then invites him to join his group that is doing the same. What will he receive if he does this? Treasures/rewards in that eternity.

Matt 19:22 “But when the young man heard this statement, he went away grieving; for he was one who owned much property

I think the young man knew the trade-off – riches now or later – and this was not worth the risk. In essence, his reaction shows he did not follow the commandments of God – at least – not completely (but partially) and the main one’s he admits to following in the passage may have been the very one’s he was breaking – including: murder, adultery, theft, lying (perjury), dishonoring his parents, and not loving his neighbor.

Why did Jesus pick those laws (has to be a reason)? Maybe this person was ripping off people or hurting them to gather his wealth.

17 thoughts on “The Young Man & Jesus – Commandments Questions?

  1. I think Jesus asks the rich young man to give up the most precious thing to that young man. He’s asking, “Are you all in?” And the young man’s actions say no although his words say yes. A big lesson here for Christians. Are we Christian because everyone else is? Or are we all in? Great sermon by my colleague Pastor Jon on this idea (listen to the 10-28 one)

  2. I agree. It was an ‘all in’ move by Jesus. But there has to be a subtext as to why this passage was written, something like Ananias and Sapphira – which again was about holding back and lying to God. Maybe this young man was lying about his commitment but wanted to look good for the crowd? Or maybe, his wealth was based on destructive ways since Jesus mentions a few laws in this passage – and maybe this young man was breaking those to gain money?

  3. I tend to think Jesus’ staement about God being the only one who is good is actually the answer to the young man’s question. The young man asks, “What good thing must I do?” Jesus answers,basically, “No! God is good, not deeds.” In so doing he say’s it’s not about you it’s about God. He then exposes the young man’s wealth that was idol in his heart. In my mind I see Jesus reciting the greatest commandment throughout this conversation, “love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, strength… and cash.”

    • Carly Jo is correct. Jesus was exposing the young man’s ridiculous idea that salvation is through works and not faith. Specifically, those things He asked him revealed also his past sins. Jesus asked the rich young ruler if he had committed these sins: “You shall not commit murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; Honor your father and mother; and You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” My guess is that Jesus knew he was guilty of these transgressions. He was omniscient, don’t forget.

  4. “The young man asks, “What good thing must I do?” Jesus answers,basically, “No! God is good, not deeds.”” (Carly)

    I believe some of that ‘intent’ is there but if you read the quotes – Jesus response is a question (common in rabbinic literature – not as common in Christian literature). The question is meant for the asker to evaluate their life. However, Jesus makes the evaluation easier when he starts listing certain commandments to evaluate according to. Why that list? It’s no more accident those were picked (in my opinion).

    As for deeds, Jesus does not say that – that’s your ‘add in’ to the passage. Jesus says plain and clearly ‘keep the commandments’. This is common Jewish theme in the Tanakh and Jesus was upholding it to his fellow countrymen. If you look at how often this term ‘keep/follow the commandments’ is used in Torah – it’s really the point of having a ‘Torah’ in the first place (so the precepts would be followed).

    I think the point of the passage is $ and the making of that wealth. I am not sure Jesus is point blank against $ (however he very well could be read that way as well) – what he is against is when money gets in the way of your faith in God.

    Now how does money get in the way of your faith in God exactly? Answer that – and that’s the point of this passage.

  5. “Jesus was exposing the young man’s ridiculous idea that salvation is through works and not faith” (Jim)

    Total ‘read in’ to the passage – not a ‘read out’ from the passage. Seems to me your implying an idea from your theology (or what your church believes) into the said passage to make it line up for your belief system. There is not a single thread in this passage about ‘salvation by works’.

    It’s something you want to see there because you are used to the story being interpreted that way. If your interpretation were accurate – why doesn’t he just say it clearly in 1 of the 2 points he makes: (1) to the young ruler (2) to his disciples afterwards. The fact he does not address that ‘faith by works’ idea at all is proof he is not talking about that.

    “My guess is that Jesus knew he was guilty of these transgressions. He was omniscient, don’t forget.” (Jim)

    Jesus may have knew he was guilty of these transgressions but he wouldn’t need to be omniscient to do that – this would of been common knowledge if he was rich that he may have abused others to get that $. Also, maybe he was known in the community (like Matthew – when he was a tax collector) and people knew what he did for $.

    As for omniscience, hate to burst your bubble, but not the case. Jesus prayed – for example – why would an omniscient person pray? Does God in heaven pray? (see end in a question and it gets you to evaluate what you believe)

    Also, Jesus did not know when he was to ‘come back’ and clear this all up for God. That’s a tad strange – for someone omniscient not to know. Either he knew and lied to his disciples or he actually had no clue about it.

    Plus Jesus never makes the claim to ‘knowing everything all over the place for all time’ – I mean this could of been easily attributed to him *by himself* yet he doesn’t do it (the greek term was well known by then). The best solution is the obvious one (Ockham’s razor) – he didn’t mention it because he wasn’t.

  6. Hi, Society. Haven’t dropped in for a while. I think I know why Jesus picked the laws he did. The rich ruler would have known the commandments very well. Notice that Jesus read all the commandments of the second table, and it’s summary, that we should love our neighbors as our self…all the commandments…except one.

    He purposely left out the command against coveting. The young ruler would (should) have caught Jesus’ ommission immediately. That’s why he could say he had kept all the laws Jesus named. Jesus was helping him out by allowing him to fill in his own blanks. Then, when he asked what he was still lacking, Jesus fills in a bit more detail. He needed to sell all that he had, not because that is what one needs to be spiritual, but this particular man needed to sell all that he had because he was extremely covetous. Wealth and material possessions were this man’s downfall. His reaction proved his own covetousness. His goods were more valuable to him than eternal life.

  7. “Jesus makes this crystal clear here: (a) God is the only good One (not himself); (b) keep (follow) the commandments to ensure eternity”

    I am not sure if you are saying that Jesus was saying he was not good or that the man was not good, but the works of keeping the commandments were not good, as they were not God. I find it interesting that Jesus said if you want to enter into life and not if you want eternal life here. Here this man states that he has followed all the commandments and wanted to know how to get to heaven and Christ said that he did not even have life to begin with, let alone eternal life.

    “If the young man wishes to be ‘complete or perfected’ in his journey”

    It is not to be complete in his journey but for the man to become complete. These two ideas are different. The man could be come complete by forsaking all and following Christ but not by following the commandments alone.

  8. As with any gospel story of Jesus, there are many things going on here than we can learn from, not just one or two. The ultimate irony is that the man claimed to follow the commandments yet fails in this brief interaction to follow the first one, “you shall have no other gods before me”. His wealth and possessions were his gods.

    Jesus did pray to the Father. And he claimed that only His Father in Heaven knew the day or the hour of His return. But He also stated that He is one with the Father, “you have seen me, you have seen the Father” (John 14). Jesus’ claim of divinity is essential to His message. He leaves nothing to be read in or read out of that message. It is what it is.

    I don’t recall exactly where you stood in your thinking about Jesus, but I do believe He is exactly who He said He was. And that reality is beyond cool.

  9. “He purposely left out the command against coveting. The young ruler would (should) have caught Jesus’ omission immediately” (Steve)

    Ching ching – now that’s seems like the answer to me since it makes logical sense to the story! Right on Steve – I really enjoyed that!

    I knew the laws were mentioned for a good reason – for introspection or something along those lines – but ‘filling in the blanks’ makes more sense. It reveals the rich young ruler did not even pay attention to the law – or to those laws effecting his neighbors (via his actions).

  10. “but the works of keeping the commandments were not good, as they were not God.” (Xander)

    Odd part, and maybe you need to rethink this sentence, but who gave the commandments and etched them into stone for Moses? So if keeping the commandments has no relevance, couldn’t we logically say God has no relevance as well?

    The commandments were God’s gift to Israel, and He didn’t need to do it (was the act of grace). But He did, and took that risk with humans – and it was a risk – for them (and us now) to be able to handle His precious words. So we can now just make His words meaningless by virtue of the idea these commandments hold no place in the life of the believer? I find that, well, odd.

    • Let me rephrase that since no mortal could follow the commandments of God, the partial following of them did not make the person good. Any small failure in keeping any part of the Law meant a failure for the person.

      What risk did God take? What did He have to lose if man failed to uphold his commandments? When you have one God set up as supreme judge and creator of all things, there is nothing to lose. Now if you are saying that God needed the people in order to make himself something, then your god is so flimsy in idea then he has basically become irrelevant.

  11. “But He also stated that He is one with the Father” (Jim)

    Again, if he was ‘one’ in the sense of ‘divinity’ then he shouldn’t need to pray, namely when he was in the garden of Gethsemane. He should of known when he was coming back, but he did not (his own admission – again – unless he’s lying to everyone). So, we can deduct from those simple observations he was not ‘One’ in the sense of ‘divinity’.

    Now I am not saying his claim to be ‘one’ with God isn’t accurate – but that a case of wording and what those words are being used to express. It’s like how we can see we are one with our partner – we share everything and do everything with and for one another. But are we the same? No.

    • When I pray, I do all sorts of things. I do ask questions but i also worship and just spend time sharing feelings and thoughts. It becomes an intimate spiritual experience. i do not see how Jesus wanting to spend time with himself in a spiritual way automatically says that He cannot be God.

      Mat 24:36 “But as for that day and hour no one knows it — not even the angels in heaven — except the Father alone.

      I do not take this as Jesus saying that He has no idea only that no one other than the creator knows when. it is not for His creations to sit around and guess, but that they should be doing what they were charged to do as the end could come any moment.

  12. “the partial following of them did not make the person good. Any small failure in keeping any part of the Law meant a failure for the person.” (Xander)

    It’s a strange outlook at the law but I’ll go with it. It’d be like if you broke the law by jay-walking and was charged for it – that it would make you a ‘bad’ person per se. It’s that strange.

    I get the comparison, God is sooooooo good that in comparison our keeping of the law (and failures to do so) make us quite miniscule in comparison. I’m alright with that – God is great and we are not so much (when compared). I see that from Jesus’ comments.

    What’s weird is that we are created ‘imperfect’ – wouldn’t it be well known we wouldn’t keep the law perfectly?

  13. “I do not see how Jesus wanting to spend time with himself in a spiritual way automatically says that He cannot be God.” (Xander)

    Why would God need a spiritual experience? Does God spend time alone from His creation and all others? Is that even possible?

    Now if we do it, cool, we are humans trying to connect to our spiritual aspect – but God doesn’t need to – He just Is (spiritual). God does not have a human body where He needs to find His spirituality. To say Jesus needed to do this means he most definitely could not have been divine.

    “I do not take this as Jesus saying that He has no idea only that no one other than the creator knows when.” (Xander)

    So he’s not the Creator then?

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