The Lord Jesus had completed His ministry in Galilee. Now He came to Judea, knowing that suffering and death were awaiting Him. The final period of Jesus’ ministry would not last many days, but the gospel writer pays great deal of attention to this period and records the Lord’s many teachings as well as the events leading up to the crucifixion.
Did You Know...?
- Judea beyond Jordan (19:1): The east side, known later as Transjordan or Perea and today simply as Jordan. [ref]
- Certificate of divorce (19:7): see Deuteronomy 24:1-4 and notes in Lesson 7.
- Beginning of the Judean Ministry (19:1,2)
- Discussion on Marriage and Divorce (19:3-12)
- Blessing Little Children (19:13-15)
- Wealth and the Kingdom of God (19:16-30)
- The rich young man (19:16-22)
- Grace and reward (19:23-30)
What was the intended trap behind the Pharisees’ question?Hide Answer
The Pharisees were hoping that Jesus would either 1) condone divorce, which would bring Him into direct conflict with those who held that divorce was not permissible except for sexual sins, or 2) forbid divorce, which would bring Him into apparent contradiction with the Mosaic law.
How was Jesus’ answer very different from what the Pharisees expected?Hide Answer
Instead of focusing His teaching on the subject of divorce, the Lord placed emphasis on marriage. Only with the correct understanding of God’s intended purpose in marriage can we understand the command against divorce.
What did the Lord teach here about marriage?Hide Answer
Marriage was in God’s mind when He created human beings. That is why He created them male and female. Husband and wife are not two, but one. No one should separate the marriage union, because it is a divine institution.
About divorce and remarriage?Hide Answer
Divorce is against God’s intended purpose. Except for sexual immorality, divorce and remarriage is adultery.
Record the contrast in this paragraph between what was commanded and what was permitted. Why did the Lord Jesus make this distinction?Hide Answer
According to God’s command, man may not separate what God has joined together. In Moses’ law, however, God did allow for the possibility of divorce, although the thrust of Deuteronomy 24:1-4 is on the prohibition against remarrying one’s spouse after divorce, rather than the permission to divorce. The Pharisees and many others had misunderstood God’s intended purpose of marriage and put more emphasis on what was permitted than what was commanded. So the Lord Jesus turned their attention to the origin of marriage and the command against divorce, and pointed out that the permission for divorce was only a result of the peoples’ hardness of heart.
What lessons can we learn from this distinction?Hide Answer
Like the Pharisees, we may sometimes also try to find “loopholes” in God’s word so as to justify our disobedience. We should learn to actively do God’s will rather than find excuses for our reluctance. The Corinthian believers thought that since “everything was permissible,” they could exercise their freedom even if it would hurt the conscience of another. But Paul taught them to always seek the good of others so as to build them up (1Cor 10:23-33).
What does it mean to not marry for the kingdom of heaven?Hide Answer
Some choose to not marry in order to focus on the things of the Lord (cf 1Cor 7:32). But celibacy is not a requirement for entering the Kingdom of heaven. Those who have not been given the gift may choose to marry (1Cor 7:9).
Why do you think the disciples forbade the children from coming to Jesus?Hide Answer
They probably either looked down on the children or thought that they were hindering the Lord’s work.
In what ways do we sometimes make the same mistake?Hide Answer
It is easy for us to “despise the little ones” or anyone who doesn’t seem important (Mt 18:10). Perhaps in our zeal to serve God, we have neglected those around us who seem to be in the way of our service (e.g. the Priest and Levite in the story of the good Samaritan).
What do these verses teach about what God values in the kingdom of heaven?Hide Answer
God is pleased with those who have the humility and innocence of children (18:3). The children were coming to Jesus to receive His blessings. This shows their humility. If we humbly acknowledge our need of God’s help and sincerely want to be close to Him, He will gladly hear us.
What was Jesus’ point about goodness in 17? How does this expose the man’s false belief?Hide Answer
The young man was probably hoping that Jesus would show him some secret path (good things) to eternal life. But the Lord Jesus reminded him that there is no other way to eternal life except through God alone and through obedience to God.
Why did the Lord mention only five of the Ten Commandments?Hide Answer
Even though the Lord did not spell out the first four commandments, He implied them in 17 and 21. The Israelites had been worshippers of God, even though sometimes only on the surface, and they had been keeping the first four commandments very strictly. This is probably why the Lord started out with the ones that have to do with loving one’s neighbor, so as to teach that our love for God is only made complete if we also have love for others. The young man thought that he had loved God and his neighbor. But as we will see in the next question, Jesus exposed the man’s failure to love God by pointing out his unwillingness to love others. In doing so, He not only brought out the spirit of the commandments, but also established a close connection between the first four and the last six.
How did the young man’s reaction show that he still had not kept the commandments perfectly?Hide Answer
The young man believed that he had kept the commands to love others. But when told to sell his possessions and give them to the poor, his lack of love surfaced. Not only so, his riches hindered him from following the Lord. This showed that he loved his wealth more than he loved God.
The young man had superficially kept the commandments (such as refraining from murder, adultery, idolatry, blasphemy), but he had actually failed to keep the spirit of God’s command—loving God and loving men. Once again, the Lord taught the necessity of obeying God from the heart as the law in the kingdom of heaven (cf. 5:17-6:18)
Why is it hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven?Hide Answer
We cannot love both God and wealth (6:24). Since it is hard for the rich to give up their possessions, it is difficult for them to love God.
Is it riches that prevent someone from entering God’s kingdom, or is it something deeper? What do we have to give up, whether we are rich or poor, in order to enter God’s kingdom?Hide Answer
It is not the riches that make a person unfit for God’s kingdom. If it is, then people such as Abraham or Job would not be in God’s kingdom. What prevents people from entering God’s kingdom is their love for their riches and their unwillingness to give them up for God.
Everyone, whether rich or poor, tends to cherish themselves and their desires. But being a disciple entails denying ourselves. Only if we forsake what is important to us (e.g. pride, lust, comfort) so as to accomplish God’s will can we be true citizens of God’s kingdom (cf. Php 3:4-8).
How should we sell what we have and give to the poor?Hide Answer
We need to give up ownership of our possessions. In other words, we are simply managers of God’s possessions. Whenever we see people in need, we should help them with what God has entrusted to us.
What does 26 teach us about the nature of salvation?Hide Answer
Salvation is possible because of God’s grace, not our own efforts. Although with the requirements that the Lord had laid down, it seems impossible to enter God’s kingdom, God will enable us if we trust Him with a simple faith (Eph 2:8-10).
How is Peter’s statement in 27 related to the Lord’s words about riches?Hide Answer
Unlike the rich young man, the disciples had given up all that had been important to them in order to follow the Lord. In other words, they had met the requirement of discipleship. So Peter wanted to know what they would receive as a result of giving up these things of the kingdom. The Lord’s answer is in 28-29.
How have you left your houses, family, and lands for the sake of the Lord Jesus?
Explain verse 30 and its relationship to the context.Hide Answer
According to the context, “Many who are first will be last” (30a) refers to how difficult it is for the many who take pride in what they have to enter God’s kingdom. “The last first” (30b) means that everyone who humbly gives up what they cherish and follows Christ will enter God’s kingdom, even though they may seem insignificant or even foolish according to popular standards.