Matthew 19:16-26 (NIV)
16 Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?” 17 “Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.” 18 “Which ones?” he inquired. Jesus replied, “‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, 19 honor your father and mother,’ and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’” 20 “All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?” 21 Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” 22 When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth. 23 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” 25 When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, “Who then can be saved?” 26 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
In this account, Jesus talks with a rich man who wanted to know what “good thing” he needed to do to “get eternal life”. Jesus said that he needed to keep the commandments of God which the man felt confident that he was already doing but he wanted to know what else he was lacking. Jesus tells him to sell all his stuff, give to the poor and then come and follow Him. This was too difficult for the man to accept because he had a lot of wealth, so he went away sad. Then Jesus says that it’s easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God but that anything is possible with God.
I think we can all relate to this rich man in one way or another. It can be easier to follow rules, than to give yourself fully to something. This man was comfortable with his life. He was fine with keeping the commands to not murder, steal, cheat on his wife, lie, etc. and had gotten himself into a state of mind where he believed that as long as he was keeping the rules, he could just carry on with his life. Jesus challenges all of that when He says that He wants him to leave his life behind and follow Him instead. Jesus wants much more than people who are good at keeping rules, He wants people who are willing to “deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me” (Mt 16:24). This man wanted to hold onto his comfortable way of living but Jesus says: “whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it” (Mt 16:25).
The challenge Jesus gives to this man is a tough one, but it is also the same challenge He gives to everyone who wants to be His disciple. For you, maybe it isn’t money, but something else. What is holding us back from fully going after Him? What is stopping us from going all-in? Whatever that thing is, that’s the thing Jesus wants you to give up for Him. And the words in our verse are so spot on. Having this level of commitment does seem impossible, but we have to trust that it is possible for us to be the types of followers Jesus wants us to be with the help of God. This is a growth process that may take a long time, but I think success will come when we trust in God, and commit to truly striving to make Him first in everything.