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Matthew 19

Living on Different Levels (Matthew 19)


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Matthew 19

Jesus is tested by the Pharisees about interpretation of the Law of Moses – divorce
And it came to pass when Jesus had finished these words, he departed from Galilee and came into the region of Judea on the other side of the Jordan. 2 And great crowds followed him; and he healed them there.
   3 And Pharisees came up to him and tested him, by asking: Is it lawful to divorce one's wife for any cause? 4 And he answered and said: Have you not read, that He who made them from the beginning made them male and female, 5 and said: For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother and shall cleave to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh? 6 So they are no more two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, do not let man separate. 7 They said to him: Why then did Moses command to give a certificate of divorce and to put her away? 8 He said to them: Moses for your hardness of heart allowed you to send away your wives, but from the beginning it has not been so. 9 And I say to you, whoever shall send his wife away, except for “porneia” and shall marry another, commits adultery; and he that marries a divorced woman, commits adultery.
   10 The disciples said to him: If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry. 11 But he said to them: Not all men can receive this saying, but they to whom it is given. 12 For there are eunuchs that were born so from their mother's womb, and there are eunuchs that were made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs that made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.
Jesus welcomes children
 13 Then little children were brought to him, so that he should lay his hands on them and pray; but the disciples rebuked them. 14 But Jesus said: Let the little children come to me and do not prevent them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven. 15 And he laid his hands on them and departed from there.
Jesus teaches a young man the cost of true discipleship
 16 And someone came to him and said: Teacher, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? 17 And he said to him: Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only One who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments. 18 He said to him: Which? And Jesus said: You shall not kill, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not bear false witness, 19 honour your father and mother and, you shall love your neighbour as yourself. 20 The young man said to him: All these things have I observed from my youth. What do I still lack? 21 Jesus said to him: If you would be perfect, go sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven, and come follow me. 22 But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he was one that had great possessions.
   23 And Jesus said to his disciples: Truly I say to you: It is hard for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of heaven. 24 And again I say to you: It is easier for a camel to go through a needle's eye, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. 25 And when the disciples heard it, they were surprised, saying: Who then can be saved? 26 And Jesus looking upon them said to them: With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.
   27 Then asked Peter, saying: We have left all and followed you. What then shall we receive as a reward? 28 And Jesus said to them: Truly I say to you: You who have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man shall sit on the throne of his glory, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 And everyone that has left houses, or brothers, or sisters, or father, or mother, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive a hundredfold and shall inherit eternal life. 30 But many shall be last that are first, and first that are last.



19:5,6 Often partners don’t psychologically ‘leave’ their parents, and only when this is done can they cleave to their partner. As they try to do this, so God will confirm them in ‘joining’ them. Partners are glued together [Gk.] by God in His own way- often through life circumstances overruled by Him. Adultery is therefore so wrong. It’s a fighting against God’s work in a couples’ life.

19:8 God makes concessions to human weakness. He knows the mind of those He has created. He sets an ideal standard but is willing to accept a lower achievement from us in practice. But this is no reason to abuse this. If we love God we will try to live life on the higher levels rather than be minimalists.

19:11 There are different levels. Some people can live on a higher level than others spiritually, especially in this area of marriage and human relationships. We must bear this in mind when forming opinions about those in the church who fail in these areas.

19:17 Jesus is at pains to show that He is not God Himself. The man wanted to know what he could do to be perfect. Jesus was perfect; but even then, His standing with God was only what it was by God’s grace.

19:20 The young man said he had kept the commandments from his youth. That’s youthful arrogance! But Jesus loved him (Mk. 10:21) rather than condemning his obvious arrogance and self-contradiction.

19:21 This was a specific command to the young man; it’s not a global command to all Christians to sell literally all they have. The example of converts in the later New Testament shows that they didn’t do this. “The poor” are often poor because of their own bad decisions. But Jesus says that we should still be generous to them with all that we have, rather than blaming them for having got themselves into the hole they have. If a person’s in a hole, however they got there, they still need our help out of it. Just as God does to us.

19:24 The needle gate was the small gate in a city wall through which only people could walk. For a camel to pass through it, it had to kneel down and have all its baggage unloaded- and even then it could only just squeeze through. We must shed our wealth and humble ourselves if we are to enter the Kingdom.

19:25 The disciples held the common but wrong idea that wealthy people were wealthy because God had blessed them. Jesus here totally deconstructs the ‘prosperity Gospel’.