Monday 07 November 2022

Bible Book:

The young man said to him, 'I have kept all these; what do I still lack?' (v. 20)

Matthew 19:16-22 Monday 7 November 2022

Psalm 102:1-11


The passages we are reading for the next three days come from chapter 19 of Matthew’s Gospel. Here, the evangelist records Jesus teaching and meeting different people after he leaves Galilee (19:1) and travels to Jerusalem to face his opponents for the last time. During his ministry, numerous people have come to Jesus for healing and teaching. Today, we read about a young man seeking Jesus’ wisdom, as people would have done with other noted rabbis.

The encounter is one of the most famous in the gospels, and we find parallels in both Mark (10:17-31) and Luke (18:18-23), although the details vary. The story is often titled ‘The Rich Young Man’ in Bibles and popular literature, but we should note that such titles are not always helpful. The fact that the man is young and rich is only revealed at the end of the episode (v. 22). Really, this passage more accurately records a story about someone coming to Jesus seeking 'eternal life' (v.16). 

In his response, Jesus points the young man to the importance of fulfilling the commandments. This is a point that Jesus has made forcefully earlier in Matthew's Gospel, when he tells the crowds during the Sermon on the Mount that he has come “not to abolish but to fulfil” the law and the prophets (5:17). Indeed, he expects his followers to be even more zealous about observing the requirements of the law than the scribes and Pharisees (5:20). This may all seem strange to some modern readers, as we tend to think of Jesus disagreeing with these groups and disregarding the law, such as the time when he condoned picking grain on the sabbath (12:1-8). Yet here Jesus stresses the importance of keeping the commandments. He highlights especially parts of the ten commandments (Exodus 20, Deuteronomy 5) and the injunction to love one’s neighbour (Leviticus 19:18). Jesus’ challenge to the young man to give up his wealth reminds us of his command concerning possessions: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth” (6:19).

  To Ponder:

  • What did the young man really want to hear from Jesus, do you think?
  • In light of Jesus' teaching, how should we understand the commandments and laws that we find in our Old Testament?
  • What do we still lack in our attempts to follow Jesus?


God of the seeking, be with all the lost and lonely this day, and those trapped by the cares of the world. Help us to follow you with all our heart and soul and mind. Amen.

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