After Jesus had just enjoined the rich young ruler to keep the commandments in order to enter into life, what question did the young man then ask Him? See Mat 19:18. What does his question indicate about his understanding that some commandments were more important than others? Does that mean to imply that some commandments are not important? Cf. Mat 23:23. Number the commandments that Jesus gave in terms of the Ten Commandments; cf. Exo 20:1-17. Which commandment does Matthew record that is not a part of the Ten Commandments, and in what way does it summarize all the others? Cf. Rom 13:8-10. Why might Jesus have emphasized the commandments of the “second tablet” of the law that deal with our relationships with men and omitted those of the “first tablet” that deal with God? Contrast Mar 12:28-31, but cf. 1Jo 4:20, 3:15-18 and think: in light of 1Jo 4:20, is it possible to be truly observant of the greater commandments to love God if one is not observant of the lesser commandments to love our neighbor? Considering how the rich young ruler supposed he had kept all the commandments Jesus enumerated, might he have been deceived that he loved God with all his heart? Might we be the same way? Husbands, can you say that you love God if you don’t first love your wife? Wives, can you say that you are in submission to God if you are not in submission to your husbands? Children, can you say that you are obedient to God if you are not obedient to your parents in the Lord?
What command does Mark also record that Jesus gave that might have been particularly important to a rich young ruler? See Mar 10:19, and cf. Sir 4:1, 34:25-26, Mal 3:5, Jam 5:4 for instances of the same word. What was the young man’s response to Jesus’ enjoinder to keep the commandments? See Mat 19:20. From his response should we suppose that he had perhaps gained his wealth by defrauding others? What indications do we have from his response that the man was sincere? Notice that “kept” is from the Greek word fula,ssw that means to guard or watch over, i.e., he was very careful to keep these commandments; NET = “wholeheartedly obeyed”. Had he just recently begun to keep the commandments? See Mar 10:20. How does Mark say Jesus felt toward this man who had so earnestly sought to keep the commandments? See Mar 10:21. In spite of Jesus’ having just corrected him in regard to the same word, how would most churches tend to describe this young man, receive him as a friend, and welcome him into their religious assembly? What does this teach us about our own understanding and perspective compared to God’s? Cf. Isa 55:8-9.
What does the man’s question to Jesus in Mat 19:20 indicate about his perception that something was still amiss in spite of his perceived goodness? What was it that was amiss? Consider again: Is it the keeping of the commandments that makes one good, or is it because one is good and reflects the nature and character of God that he keeps the commandments? I.e., was the man truly good even though he had wholeheartedly obeyed the legalistic requirements of the law? See again Phil 3:4-6 and 1Ti 1:12-15. In what way had Jesus already crafted the conversation to help the young man come to understand this? Consider: Which of the Ten Commandments from the second “table” had Jesus noticeably omitted, and why is that significant? If the standard of goodness to obtain eternal life is the nature and character of God, is it then enough for us to keep most of the commandments, especially if we “wholeheartedly obey” them, even if we are perhaps slightly deficient? See Jam 2:10.
What was Jesus’ answer to the man’s question about what he was still lacking? See Mat 19:21. In what way did this expose the man’s false notions of what it means to be good in order to obtain eternal life? See Mat 19:22. Although like Paul the man had observed the legalistic requirements of the law, had he truly observed the righteous requirement of the law to have the nature and character of God? Cf. 2Co 8:9. In what way only is one able to fulfill the righteousness of the law? See Rom 8:1-4, Gal 2:19-20. Is then the purpose of the law to establish a list of dos and don’ts so that by observing them we may obtain eternal life, or is it to point us to Christ in order that we might be justified by faith and receive eternal life as a free gift as we are clothed by God in the skin of his righteousness? See Gal 3:19-27, Gen 3:21, Eph 2:8-9.
1. NRS Sirach 4:1 My child, do not cheat the poor of their living, and do not keep needy eyes waiting. Sirach 34:25-27 The bread of the needy is the life of the poor; whoever deprives them of it is a murderer. 26 To take away a neighbor’s living is to commit murder; 27 to deprive an employee of wages is to shed blood.↩