What do Matthew and Mark say the man did in response to his grief and sorrow at Jesus’ reply? See Mat 19:22, Mar 10:22. What does his response indicate that he ultimately loved more: God or his worldly wealth? In what way is that like so many today who in the same way “go away”, if not entirely, at least from the true Jesus because they view His demands as too hard and ultimately love other things more than they love God? Cf. Joh 6:60. Are we like that? What does the Bible call it when people make an object of worship that is more to their own liking? Cf. Exo 20:4, 32:4,8.
What does Jesus say in regard to His kingdom is the result of finding His demands too hard? See Mat 19:23. How does Mark describe the emphasis of Jesus’ statement? See Mar 10:23-24. Do we understand that to the extent to which we find Jesus’ teachings on any topic to be too hard is the same extent to which it is difficult for us to enter into His kingdom? What does Luke’s account indicate about the timing of Jesus’ words in relation to the man going away? See Luk 18:24. In light of His words, did Jesus consider wealth to be an automatic sign of blessing? Cf. Luk 6:20-21,24-25. Should we?
How does Jesus illustrate the great difficulty of a rich man entering the kingdom of heaven? See Mat 19:24, Mar 10:25. What does He mean by “the eye of a needle”? Observe that the Greek word used does refer to the opening or slit in a sewing needle, and that Luke in 18:25 uses a different word that references a surgeon’s needle. Although there was a small gate in Jerusalem called “The Needle’s Eye”, it was not in existence in Jesus’ day but was built in the middle ages and named in reference to this passage of Scripture. Is His point then that it is possible for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of heaven, but just really difficult? See Mat 19:26, and note that the Talmud twice uses the example of an elephant passing through the eye of a needle to describe the impossible.
What was the disciples’ reaction to Jesus’ words? See Mat 19:25, Mar 10:24,26. What does their reaction indicate about their understanding of Jesus’ illustration as referring to the impossible? What question did they then ask? What does their question indicate about their understanding of the implications for all men of what Jesus had just said, not just for those whom we think of as very wealthy? In light of the fact that there are many who are not rich and the context of Jesus’ words clearly refer to those who are quite wealthy, why would they draw that implication? Consider again the moral uprightness of the rich young ruler who willing came seeking out Jesus, ran up and bowed down to him, and inquired about what good thing he could do by means of his wealth and position that would be worthy of eternal life; in their eyes, if such a man as this could not be saved, then who could—even if they were not rich? What does this indicate about their own understanding of the means by which one is saved? How does their understanding reflect that of all mankind in its fallen state? Considering then that although the rich young ruler was not perfect but still a paragon of virtue in keeping the commandments and seeking to do good, to what conclusion were the disciples brought by Jesus’ interaction with him? See Mat 19:25-26, Isa 55:8-9. No matter how “good” and virtuous a person may be, is there anyone who is able through his own merits to be saved and obtain eternal life? Cf. Psa 49:5-9. If salvation is to come, from Whom must it come? See Mat 19:26, Eph 2:8-9. What do we learn from Mat 19:16, 23,24, and 25 about the equivalence of eternal life, entering the kingdom of heaven, entering the kingdom of God, and being saved? And again, what do Mat 19:24-26 teach us about the impossibility of men saving themselves, and the true miracle of salvation that only God is able to perform?
Consider that within 40 years by 70 a.d., all the man’s property and wealth would be lost in the Jewish revolt and subsequent destruction of the nation by Rome and enslavement of the population; what insight does this give us into Jesus’ words in Mat 16:25? What insight does it give us into Jesus’ love for the rich young ruler mentioned in Mar 10:21 and His words in Mat 19:24-26? Think: in what way is God able to make possible the impossible of a rich man entering the kingdom of God? What does this teach us about God’s mercy and love even in His wrath and judgment? Should we suppose that because the rich young ruler went away from Jesus at this time that he was necessarily lost forever? Or is it possible that the Lord would use the events about to unfold in the nation of Israel to illustrate the vanity of riches and seeking to save one’s life in this world over following God, in order that this man and others like him might yet be saved because of God’s great love for them?