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What does Matthew 19:13-30, Mark 10:13-31 and Luke 18:15:-30 say about eternal life and eternal rewards?

What does Matthew 19:13-30, Mark 10:13-31 and Luke 18:15-30 say about eternal life and eternal rewards?


By Ron Bedell


 


There are many rich people who are believers in Jesus Christ, and therefore, they are saved and have eternal life in Heaven. We have heard their public testimony for Jesus Christ in churches and other places many times. In verses 23-24 Jesus is not saying that all rich people go to hell, but He is saying that it is much harder for a rich man to accept and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ for eternal salvation than it is for a small child to accept and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.


 


Matthew 19:13-30; Mark 10:13-31; and Luke 18:15-30 can be broken up into three parts:


 


Matthew 19:13-30


 


(1) Matthew 19:13-15: Jesus and the little children


 


(2) Matthew 19:16-26: Christ’s instruction concerning wealthy people


 


(3) Matthew 19:27-30: Christ’s instruction concerning the believers service for God and believers receiving eternal rewards.


 


Mark 10:13-31


 


(1) Mark 10:13-16: Jesus and the little children


 


(2) Mark 10:17-27: Christ’s instruction concerning wealthy people


 


(3) Mark 10:28-31: Christ’s instruction concerning the believers service for God and the believers receiving eternal rewards.


 


Luke 18:15-30


 


(1) Luke 18:15-17: Jesus and the little children


 


(2) Luke 18:18-27: Christ’s instruction concerning wealthy people


 


(3) Luke 18:2830: Christ’s instruction concerning the believers service for God and the believers receiving eternal rewards.


 


The issue in Matthew 19:13-26 and Mark 10:13-27 and Luke 18:15-27 is eternal life (eternal salvation), and the key question was asked by Jesus’ disciples in Matthew 19:25 and Mark 10:26 and Luke 18:26 – “Who then can be saved?”


 


Matthew 19:27-30; Mark 10:28-31; and Luke 18:28-30 is referring to the believer’s service for God and eternal rewards of those who put their trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. Again these three passages are not referring to eternal salvation but rather to the eternal rewards of the believer in Christ.


 


This passage (Matthew 19:13-26) is saying that it is much easier for a child to trust Christ as Savior and receive eternal life in Heaven than it is for a rich man to trust Christ as Savior and receive eternal life in Heaven.


 


The child has not yet been indoctrinated with all the secular humanist doctrines of the day. The child only knows that Jesus loves him (or her). Entrance into God’s Heavenly kingdom can only happen through childlike faith (or trust, or belief) in the Lord Jesus Christ.


 


The rich man on the other hand has been well indoctrinated with the secular philosophies of his day and he has become completely dependent on his earthly success in his attempt to grant himself entrance into God’s heavenly kingdom. But the Bible says that entrance into God’s Heavenly kingdom can only happen through faith in Christ apart from any good works (Ephesians 2:8-9). The rich man illustrated those who failed to acknowledge their own inability to gain eternal life and to receive it as God’s gift. It can be very hard for the rich man to simply believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. Please look at Matthew 19:23-24.


 


23 Then said Jesus unto His disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven.


24 And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.


 


Therefore three important points must be made about Matthew 19:23-24


 


<!--<if !supportLists>-->1.       <!--<endif>-->Because of their wealth, rich people may not feel they need God. Their money makes them feel safe and secure. They can buy anything they want and they feel their money can rescue them from any problem.


 


<!--<if !supportLists>-->2.       <!--<endif>-->Rich people can easily forget that life on earth does not last forever. They may be like the rich fool in the story that Jesus told (Luke 12:13-21). They may forget about life that lasts forever in Heaven.


 


<!--<if !supportLists>-->3.       <!--<endif>-->The rich man has been well indoctrinated with the secular philosophies of his day and he has become completely dependent on his earthly success in his attempt to grant himself entrance into God’s heavenly kingdom. The Bible says that entrance into God’s Heavenly kingdom can only happen through faith in Christ apart from any good works (Ephesians 2:8-9). The rich man illustrated those who failed to acknowledge their own inability to gain eternal life and to receive it as God’s gift. It can be very hard for the rich man to simply believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.


 


Ok, let’s look at Matthew 19:13-15 – Jesus and the little children


 


13 Then some children were brought to Him so that He might lay His hands on them and pray; and the disciples rebuked them. 14 But Jesus said, <a>Let the children alone, and do not hinder them from coming to Me; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” 15 After laying His hands on them, He departed from there. (Matthew 19:13-15 – NASB, New American Standard Bible)


 


13 Then were there brought unto him little children, that he should put his hands on them, and pray: and the disciples rebuked them.


14 But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.


15 And he laid his hands on them, and departed thence. (Matthew 19:13-15—KJV, King James Version)


 


19:13-15, Jesus’ disciples rebuked those who attempted to bring little children to Jesus for prayer. Jesus in turn rebukes His disciples. Jesus blesses the little children for they are like those who will be a part of “the Kingdom of Heaven.” Children are distinguished by their simple trust in and humble dependence on others to do for them what they cannot do for themselves. Those who make up the Kingdom will be those who have these child like characteristics. Mark and Luke add that unless one receives the kingdom as a little child, he will not be able to enter it (Mark 10:15; Luke 18:17). Israel’s unbelief and blindness contrasted sharply with the faith of childlike believers.


 


Ok, let’s look at Matthew 19:16-26 – Christ’s instruction concerning wealthy people


 


Important: Do rich people go to Heaven? Yes! But this rich young ruler was completely convinced that he could enter Heaven based on His good works. Completely convinced! Therefore Christ had to hit him over the head (so to speak) in verse 21 to convince him that he was a sinner on his way to hell and that he did not have Christ’s (God’s) righteousness required to enter Heaven. In verse 22 we read that the rich young ruler went away crying because he knew he was a sinner on his way to Hell. In verse 21, Christ had to do this because the rich man’s eternity was far more important than his temporal life rewards  here on earth. Below are the passages from the New American Standard Version and King James Version and the commentaries from Dr. Hal Haller and The Bible Knowledge Commentary.


 


The Rich Young Ruler


16 And someone came to Him and said, “Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may obtain eternal life?” 17 And He said to him, “Why are you asking Me about what is good? There is only One who is good; but if you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.” 18 Then he *said to Him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, You shall not commit murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness;19 Honor your father and mother; and You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”20 The young man *said to Him, “All these things I have kept; what am I still lacking?” 21 Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be <a>complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” 22 But when the young man heard this statement, he went away grieving; for he was one who owned much property.


23 And Jesus said to His disciples, “Truly I say to you, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” 25 When the disciples heard this, they were very astonished and said, “Then who can be saved?” 26 And looking at them Jesus said to them, “With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:16-26—NASB, New American Standard Bible)


 


16 And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?


17 And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.


18 He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness,


19 Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.


20 The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?


21 Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.


22 But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.


23 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven.


24 And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.


25 When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved?


26 But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible. (Matthew 19:16-26—KJV, King James Version)


 


“19:16-22, the rich young ruler thought of Jesus as a mere man, a “good teacher,” He asks, “What good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?” The question shows that he thought he could do something good enough to merit eternal life.


 


Some believe Jesus is providing a standard of works and discipleship as the way to receive eternal life or proving one had it. After all, this is what the rich young ruler asked about, and so Jesus was giving him the answer. But if this were true, no one could be saved, for what Jesus is demanding of the man is humanly impossible to attain.


 


The proper interpretation of this passage depends on recognizing that Jesus did not actually answer the man’s question—at least not in a way that was possible for the man to obey. Jesus did not tell the man to believe on Him as He told others in John 3:16; 4:13-14; 5:24; 6:35, 47; 11:25-27. The reason is that what Jesus is doing here is pre-evangelism. He is showing the man that he cannot save himself by his own piety.


 


Jesus first challenges the man to rethink his understanding of who Jesus is. Jesus asks, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God.” In other words, Jesus is God. Jesus Christ is implicitly affirming His own sinlessness and His deity.


 


Second, Jesus met the young man on the grounds of his own false assumption and challenges that assumption. Since what is good is defined by the Law, Christ directs the young man to the Old Testament commandments that have been given by the absolutely good God.  “But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.” Jesus then gives specific instructions from the second table of the Law specifying man’s duty to his fellow man (Matthew 19:18-19a). He sums up that portion of the Law with the second greatest commandment, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”


 


The self confident young man had not even begun to comprehend his need for a Savior. He claims, “All these things have I kept from my youth. What do I still lack?” Jesus then seeks to reveal his lack to him. He tests him on the tenth and final commandment, “You shall not covet” (Exodus 20:17).


 


Jesus then invites the young man to part with his wealth. If he would “go, sell…give” and “come, follow” Jesus, then he would obtain “treasure in Heaven” (an eternal reward). Refusing this, he left sorrowful, for his great possessions were too much to give up.” (The Grace New Testament Commentary, Vol. 1, pp. 87-88)


 


“The young man affirmed he had kept all these things, but he still sensed a lack (Matthew 19:20). Whether he had truly kept these commandments, only God knows. The young man believed he had and yet he knew something was missing in his life. Jesus put His finger on his problem when He told him to go, sell all his possessions and give to the poor, and he would then have treasure in Heaven. Such mercy toward the poor would demonstrate inner righteousness (needed for eternal salvation – Philippines 3:9). If he were righteous (based on faith in Jesus Christ as God) he should have given his wealth to the poor and followed Jesus. But instead, the man…went away sad for he had great wealth. His unwillingness to relinquish his wealth showed he did not love his neighbor as himself. Thus he had not kept all the commandments, and he lacked salvation. (The purpose of the Law was show that every man is a sinner and point the sinner to the Savior Jesus Christ. The Law cannot save but Jesus can and wants to save us.) Nothing more was written about this young man. He loved his money more than God, thus he violated even the first commandment (Exodus 20:3).” Obviously this man did not keep the Law. (The Bible Knowledge Commentary, NT, pp. 64-65)


 


“19:23-26, when the rich young ruler had left, Jesus tells His disciples it is impossible for such a man to be saved. In a classic understatement   He says it is difficult for a wealthy person “to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.” Jesus’ next statement is designed to show how difficult it is: “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God.”Jesus is speaking literally of a hole in a sewing needle. There was no such thing in the city walls of that time at that time as a small gate called “the eye of a needle” that camels could go through if they went on their knees. That is something possible, but Jesus is speaking of the impossible. The disciples are exceedingly amazed. To think of the largest animals in Palestine going through the smallest of openings (a needles eye) was absurd indeed. The disciples asked, “Who then can be saved?” If the rich man, seemingly blessed by God, could not make it to Heaven, what hope could lesser people have?


 


The lesson to the rich young ruler is that if no one is as good as God, no one can truly be good. If no one can truly be good, no one can be good enough to live with a holy God for eternity. It does not matter how much one might try to keep the Law or how much one might try to give up or give away or go on to imitate Christ’s sinless life in continuous discipleship.


 


The lesson to the disciples was that salvation on the basis of merit, even though apparently attested by affluence, is impossible. If one is trusting in his or her riches as proof of one’s righteousness, that person will fail to enter the Kingdom of God. God will save by grace or not at all. Salvation is possible only through Him.” (The Grace New Testament Commentary, Vol. 1, pp. 88-89)


 


Ok, let’s look at Matthew 19:27-20:16--Christ’s instruction concerning the believer’s service for God and believers receiving eternal rewards


 


The Disciples’ Reward


27 Then Peter said to Him, “Behold, we have left everything and followed You; what then will there be for us?” 28 And Jesus said to them, “Truly I say to you, that you who have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on <a>His glorious throne, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother <b>or children or farms for My name’s sake, will receive <c>many times as much, and will inherit eternal life. 30 But many who are first will be last; and the last, first. (Matthew 19:27-30—NASV, New American Standard Version)


 


27 Then answered Peter and said unto him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore?


28 And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.


29 And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.


30 But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first. (Matthew 19:27-30—KJV, King James Version)


 


“19:27, Jesus’ answer to the rich young ruler might have created momentary doubt in the disciple’s minds about their own salvation. However, Jesus’ words in verse 26 evidently reestablished in their minds that salvation is by grace alone, a free gift, and not of works. But as their assurance returned, Peter suddenly realizes he had in fact done what the rich young ruler had failed to do. He (Peter) had sacrificed everything. Jesus had promised the young ruler treasure in Heaven. So Peter wanted to know what he and the other disciples would receive.


 


Peter’s question is a legitimate question. If eternal life is by faith alone, what does one get for self-denial?”


 


19:28-29, Jesus promises eternal rewards “in the regeneration” to committed disciples. The word regeneration occurs two times in the New Testament (Titus 3:5 and Matthew 19:28). In Titus 3:5 it refers to the new birth of the individual. Here (Matthew 19:28) it refers to the rebirth that will occur in society as Jesus sets up His kingdom at the Second Coming.


 


The apostles “who have followed Christ will also sit on the 12 thrones, judging the 12 tribes of Israel.” They had shared in His privations; they will also share in His glory. This promise of authority refers to the time of the earthly millennial kingdom “when the Son Man sits on the throne of His glory” governing in righteousness (Psalm 9:4; Isaiah 1:26; Daniel 7:22; Revelation 20:6). Israel will be regathered from the four points of the compass (Matthew 24:31) and given an allotment in the land of Israel as an inheritance, just as Israel received when she entered the promised land during the time of Joshua (Joshua 13-19). Each apostle will be ruling over an individual portion allotted to “the twelve tribes.” Jesus’ reference to Himself as “the Son of Man” reveals His claim to be the messianic King (Daniel 7:13-14).


 


Jesus promises the disciples not only future ruling authority but also “a hundredfold” in benefits now as reward in the kingdom for leaving behind the dearest things in this life.


 


Inheriting “eternal life” (in verse 29) is not to be viewed in the same way as the present possession of that life. Eternal life as a present possession is a free gift from God and not an earned reward in any way (John 4:10-14). In Matthew 19:30 the emphasis is not on its present possession as it is in the Gospel of John (John 6:47), but on its future potential fullness. While all believers have everlasting life, only those who endure in their service for Christ will inherit a full experience of everlasting life (Galatians 6:7-9; 1 Timothy 6:12, 19).


 


19:30, Jesus informed Peter that “many who are first (in this age) will be last (in the coming kingdom), and the last (now) first (then).” In other words, things now are not always as they seem. Some who are mighty and powerful in the Church Age will be paupers in the kingdom, and some who are paupers in the Church Age will be mighty and powerful in the kingdom. How believers live now will have a direct bearing on their position of service for Christ in the life to come.” (The Grace New Testament Commentary, Vol. 1, pp. 89-90)


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