Matthew 19:16–22: Treasure in Heaven

by Feb 26, 2024Premium, The Gospel of Matthew

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While Jesus’ recent subjects of marriage, divorce, and children (Matt. 19:1–15) have hit very close to home, Jesus knows that some of the most selfish things relate to our possessions. While we can behave terribly toward those people who are closest to us, there is a more subtle kind of sin that lurks beneath the surface of our lives in our inordinate desires for what we own. While we may fool many around us (including ourselves!) to believe that we are really good people, God sees the sinful covetousness of our hearts. So, in Matthew 19:16–22, Jesus commands you to lay up for yourself treasure in heaven.

Discussion Questions

1. What do you think that this young, rich man wanted to hear from Jesus when he asked Jesus about the good deed that he must do to have eternal life (v. 16)? What faulty assumptions lie behind this question? Why do you think that Jesus responds with a question rather than answering this man directly (v. 17a)? What does Jesus get at first when he asks the man to consider the One who is truly good (v. 17a)?

2. Why do you think that Jesus next appeals to the commandments in the Law (v. 17b)? What do we learn about this man’s heart and motivations when he asks Jesus “which” commandments he needs to keep (v. 18)? Which commandments does Jesus cite in response to (vv. 18–19)? Which commandments does Jesus omit? Why do you think this is? In what sense has the man actually kept these commands (v. 20)? In what sense has he failed to keep them?

3. What does Jesus mean by the word “perfect” (v. 21a)? Why does Jesus give the man the test of asking him to sell what he possesses and to give it to the poor in order to have treasure in heaven by turning to follow him? Why does this man refuse to do what Jesus tells him to do? How does this commandment relate to Christians today? Do you feel yourself trying to wiggle out from under the weight of Jesus’ words? Why do you think this is?

4. What does it mean to have “treasure in heaven” (v. 21b)? Why is that treasure bound up in following Jesus (v. 21c)? Do you see the weight of your sin and your need for Jesus as your Savior? Or, do you feel (like the rich young man) that you are a “pretty good person” who may only need to do something to pad your resume a bit in order to gain entrance into heaven? How specifically is this passage challenging the way that you relate to God, to others, and to your possessions?