"As Jesus was resuming his journey, a man came running up to him, and threw himself on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to gain eternal life?” “Why do you call me good?”answered Jesus. “No one is good but God. You know the commandments — ‘Do not kill. Do not commit adultery. Do not steal. Do not say what is false about others. Do not cheat. Honor your father and your mother.’” “Teacher,” he replied, “I have observed all these from my childhood.” Jesus looked at the man, and his heart went out to him, and he said: “There is still one thing wanting in you; go and sell all that you have, and give to the poor, and you will heave wealth in heaven; then come and follow me.” But the man’s face clouded at these words, and he went away distressed, for he had great possessions. Then Jesus looked around, and said to his disciples: “How hard it is for people of wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again: “My children, how hard a thing it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to get through a needle’s eye, than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” “Then who can be saved?” they exclaimed in the greatest astonishment. Jesus looked at them, and answered: “With people it is impossible, but not with God; for everything is possible with God.”
I think this is an interesting passage. The question this man asks Jesus is a very key question.
"What must I do to gain eternal life?"
If someone asked you this question, how would you respond?
I doubt any of us would respond with the answers Jesus gives... follow the Old Testament commandments, and sell everything and give your money to the poor.
Many Christians would explain some information about God and what Jesus did on the cross, and say if we believe and have faith we will be saved.
So how can we reconcile that the answer Jesus gives here seems to emphasize works, where the answer we want to give emphasizes only faith. I know there are many bible passages that support both sides of the works vs faith issue.
I think a key to understanding the kingdom of God is that it is not about following a set of rules. If submission to the reign, rule, authority of God was just about following the Old Testament law, Jesus would not have had to come. The Jews already had the law.
I believe there is a real sense that Jesus wanted to free them from following the law. He wanted them to discover that they could follow and submit to the King instead. He showed them that He was the King who loved and cared for them, especially those who were the outcasts and marginalized ones. Submitting to the reign and authority of a loving God is so much better than following a set of rules. When Jesus left he promised that He would leave the Holy Spirit to guide His followers personally.
I think the answer Jesus gave isn't one of following the works of the law. I see it as a call to have deep faith in God.
This man had wealth, and he was trusting in his wealth. Jesus was asking the man to place his faith and trust in Him alone.
I am not at a point where I believe all wealthy people have to sell all they have and give it all to the poor. I see Jesus asking this man to do this because He knew this man's heart. If you have wealth, the key question to ask yourself is "If God asked me to give it all up would I? Do I trust God more than I trust my wealth? Do I trust God's ability to care for my needs more than I trust my own ability? To what degree am I OK with letting God alone reign in my life?" These are questions of faith.