Jesus had promised a man treasure in heaven if he followed him (v. 21; compare 6:20); the man preferred to keep his treasure on earth (19:22). The well-to-do young man of 19:16-22 was like many "First World" Christians today. We want God to affirm that we are religious enough without costing us anything more than we have already been offering him. We trust only tentatively the value of heaven's kingdom and hence are prepared to sacrifice only little for it; but one who is not sufficiently convinced of the gospel's truth to sacrifice everything (compare 13:44-46) will not prove worthy of it. This is not to say that we are justified by our merit-we must receive the kingdom like a child (19:13-15). But genuine, saving faith is practically shown not by merely reciting a prayer but by living consistently with what we profess.
Jesus promises to more than make up for our sacrifices; do we believe him enough to sacrifice whatever our calling demands? As Craig Blomberg (1992:301) comments: "This entire episode should challenge First-World Christians, virtually all of whom are among the wealthiest people in the history of the world, to radical changes in their personal and institutional spending."
IVP New Testament Commentaries are made available by the generosity of InterVarsity Press.
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