When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, “Who then can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
High school graduating classes vote to honor their outstanding classmates with titles like: Most Likely to Succeed, Best Athlete, Most Talented, etc. I don’t know when the custom began, but if it had been practiced in Jesus’ day, there would have been a candidate for Most Likely to Go to Heaven. You can read about him in Matthew 19:16-26.
This rich young man faithfully kept God’s commandments. And to the Jews, his wealth was a sign of God’s favor. He was a shoo-in for heaven. Or so they thought.
He asked Jesus a question that led to a teaching opportunity. “What good thing must I do to get eternal life?” (Matthew 19:16) The Lord gave a simple answer. “Keep the commandments.” (v17)
I’ve always found the man’s reply astonishing. “Which ones?” he said. (v18) Was he asking, “Which sins can I get away with?” But I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. The man just wanted a specific list of things he needed to do to gain eternal life.
So Jesus laid it out for him. “You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother, and love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 19:18-19)
“All these I have kept,” said the man. (v20) Possibly there was something in Jesus expression or the tone of His voice that caused the man to inquire further. “What do I still lack?” That’s when Jesus hit him with an unexpected demand.
21 Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
22 When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth. (Matthew 19:21-22)
The Most Likely to Go to Heaven wasn’t going to make it. And if he couldn’t do it, who could?
The saddened man departed, and Jesus explained the unfortunate outcome to His disciples. “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” (v24)
In case you’re wondering, Jesus wasn’t saying rich people can’t go to heaven. He was using hyperbole to emphasize how difficult it is to put God above our worldly possessions and desires.
Naturally, His disciples were perplexed and wondered who could be saved? Jesus’ answer is vital to understanding the path to eternal life. “With man this is impossible…” (v26)
No one can work their way to heaven. It is humanly impossible. You can spend a lifetime doing good and obeying the Ten Commandments — but still fall short. And unlike here on earth where wealth buys prestige, you can’t buy your way into heaven. You can’t earn it and you don’t deserve it. Like Jesus said, it’s “impossible.”
But God is not bound by man’s limitations. He can do what we can’t. “… with God all things are possible.”
You can’t save yourself, but God can save you.
God is a miracle worker. And if you have surrendered your life to Christ, then you are the recipient of the greatest of all miracles. God has accomplished in you what you could never do for yourself. You are on the highway to heaven.
For more on this topic, check out this article: God’s Super Deluxe Bundle of Blessings
Reprinted from The Forever Notebook, Book 4 (October – December) Get your copy here: Paperback and eBook/Kindle formats.