Have you ever wondered "How can we be saved?" In Matthew 26, Jesus encounters a rich, young man who wanted to know how he could be saved? Jesus’ response was: “With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.” Let us explore Matthew 19:26 to see if we can discover the means of salvation.
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A wealthy young man had heard about the Teacher. He had a question: “How can I be saved?” He wanted to know if there was anything preventing him from being saved.
Jesus' response was that the young man should sell all that he had and follow him. Saddened, the young man walked away.
"It's difficult for a rich person to make it into heaven." Jesus remarked.
His disciples were startled, "If the rich man isn't going to make it, who could?"
Let’s look at some Strong’s definitions before we go further:
Beheld [them]: emblépō, (pronounced em-blep'-o); to look on, i.e. (relatively) to observe fixedly, or (absolutely) to discern clearly:—behold, gaze up, look upon, (could) see.
Impossible: adýnatos, (pronounced ad-oo'-nat-os); unable, i.e. weak (literally or figuratively); passively, impossible, could not do, impossible, impotent, not possible, weak.
Possible: dynatós, (pronounced doo-nat-os'); powerful or capable (literally or figuratively); neuter possible, able, could, (that is) mighty (man), possible, power, strong.
An expansion of this verse could look like this:
But Jesus beheld (considered) [them], and said, "With men this (a rich man entering into the kingdom of heaven) is impossible (not possible, weak, impotent, weak); but with God all things are possible (powerful, capable, possible, able)."
The young ruler left Jesus disappointed. The question that he had asked in good faith had returned an answer that he couldn't understand...
Maybe his opinion was that all was well. After all, he had been keeping the commandments since he was young. He was a leader in his community. He had great wealth.
All the evidence indicated that he was being blessed by the Almighty...and only the "good" people get the blessings...right?
When the young man asked, “What good thing can I do that I may have eternal life?” He really wanted to know which commandments he should keep. Maybe he wanted validation that he was on his way to heaven because he had always kept the commandments.
Jesus’ response was intriguing. He listed five of the Ten Commandments. He didn’t repeat the ones that mentioned God or the Sabbath. He focused instead on the ones that applied to human relationships:
· You must not murder (6th commandment).
· You must not commit adultery (7th commandment).
· You must not steal (8th commandment).
· You must not testify falsely (9th commandment).
· Honor your father and mother (5th commandment).
Why didn't Jesus remind the young man to keep the Sabbath? Or to refrain from taking the Lord's name in vain? Or to not make or worship idols? I believe Jesus looked into his heart and knew which areas he struggled with. The love for his fellow man was the missing component.
Jesus didn’t list the commandments in perfect order and he didn’t mention the tenth one: “Don’t covet your neighbor’s stuff.” (Maybe because as a rich man his neighbor didn’t have anything he wanted anyway.) But look at what Jesus says next:
“You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
Wait, what? Is that even a commandment? Why would Jesus tell this man that if he wanted to be saved he needed to love his neighbor? Not from a distance or in theory but close and in person and as he loves himself.
But even though he struggled, the young man was able to confidently say, "I have kept the commandments."
"Very well," Jesus says, "Since you are perfect in your own eyes, let me show you the god you're serving. Put away the idol in your heart—your wealth. Put it away and follow Me."
The young ruler thought his actions could save him. The disciples thought his money made it easier for him to be saved. But God had to show them all that the righteousness of mankind is as filthy rags. We cannot be saved through our own efforts, no matter how "good" we are.
I love the way the New Living Translation renders this text:
Jesus looked at them intently and said, "Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible" (Matthew 19:26).
This is a powerful reminder that we are unable to save ourselves. The blood of lambs and goats and turtle doves cannot save us. It doesn't matter if they are without blemish. The truth of the matter is that mankind needed a Savior. If not for the redeemer all would have been lost.
Like the rich, young ruler you may be wondering what is required for salvation. You may think there’s something you should be doing (or not doing) that would guarantee your salvation. Oh, don’t look at me like that. You know I’m telling the truth. As Christians, we should know that only the blood of Jesus can wash away our sins and give us eternal life, but don’t we try to save ourselves all the time?
Instead of turning to God in prayer or to seek deliverance we try to find ways to solve our problems. We want to be responsible for our own salvation. Prayer is usually a last resort instead of a first response.
We live in a works-based society so it’s no wonder we have learned that anything that needs to be done we have to do it ourselves by being stronger, faster, better than everyone else including previous versions of ourselves.
Despite the billions invested in the movie-making business there are no avengers and there is no superhero coming to our rescue and that’s why we have to do it ourselves. But Jesus’ response was clear:
Salvation through human efforts cannot save us, but God can. We can only be saved when we accept that Jesus is the Son of God and the He died on a cross to save us from our sins. That’s it. No qualifications. No fine print or hidden clause.
Praise God. The Redeemer Lives!