Two men are praying in the temple: 1) A Pharisee – “God, I thank You that I am not like other men – extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.” 2) The tax collector – “God, be merciful to me a sinner!”
Which one do you think was justified by God? The tax collector! – “I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” Therefore Jesus tells His disciples to come to Him as humble as little children – “Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.”
A rich man asks Jesus how to inherit eternal life. Jesus tells him to keep the commandments: “‘You shall not murder,’ ‘You shall not commit adultery,’ ‘You shall not steal,’ ‘You shall not bear false witness,’ ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’”
The rich man, feeling pretty good about himself and his deeds, responds saying that he already does all of those things. However, Jesus knows that he is still clinging to this world. So Jesus says, “One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me.” Then the rich man leaves sorrowful, for he did not want to give up his great possessions.
Jesus warns about the love of material possessions – “Children, how hard it is for those who trust in riches to enter the kingdom of God! 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.” So the disciples begin questioning who can be saved. Jesus responds, “With men it is impossible, but not with God; for with God all things are possible.”
Peter says to Jesus that the disciples have left all to follow Him. And because of that, Jesus says “Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or parents or brothers or wife or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who shall not receive many times more in this present time, and in the age to come eternal life.” Jesus requires His disciples to hold loosely to everything else in this world in order to follow Him.
However, the Pharisees are not interested in following Jesus — they want to destroy Him. So the Pharisees test Jesus by questioning Him on the topic of marriage and divorce. Jesus makes clear that marriage is designed by God as a union between one man and one woman. He says that the Lord allowed Moses to permit divorce because of our hardened hearts. However, this was not the Lord’s original plan. Since divorce is a result of our sinful nature, “He answered and said to them, ‘Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.”
“They said to Him, ‘Why then did Moses command to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away?’ He said to them, ‘Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery.’”
Hearing how marriage is a binding commitment before the Lord, the disciples wonder if it would be better for them not to marry at all. Jesus responds, “All cannot accept this saying, but only those to whom it has been given: For there are eunuchs who were born thus from their mother’s womb, and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He who is able to accept it, let him accept it.”
Keep reading. (Luke 18:9-14, Mark 10:1-12, Matthew 19:1-12, Mark 10:13-16, Matthew 19:13-15, Luke 18:15-17, Mark 10:17-31, Matthew 19:16-30, Luke 18:18-30)