Matthew 19:22

ESV When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.
NIV When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.
NASB But when the young man heard this statement, he went away grieving; for he was one who owned much property.
CSB When the young man heard that, he went away grieving, because he had many possessions.
NLT But when the young man heard this, he went away sad, for he had many possessions.
KJV But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.

What does Matthew 19:22 mean?

The reaction of this rich young man demonstrates the purpose of Jesus' earlier statements (Matthew 19:16–21). The man called Jesus "good," which Jesus suggested was a reference to God, implying the man ought to be ready to obey (John 14:15). Christ then posed the idea of moral perfection, which the man claimed he'd attained, at least so far as he could (Matthew 19:17–20). Jesus completed the lesson by giving the man what he'd asked for: something to "do." That instruction was meant for that man, and for this purpose, alone (Matthew 19:21).

Christ's instruction was for the man to give up all his great wealth. The young man is not happy to know he can attain eternal life—he is sad because he does not want to obey God when that obedience is overly difficult. He wants to do things his own way and be guaranteed eternal life at the same time.

This response is crucial to understanding the comments Jesus has made up to now. Jesus has proved the rich man is not as good as he thought he was. The young man believed he had kept all the commands. Jesus showed him a specific way to love his neighbors as he loved himself. The man saw clearly that he loved himself more than his poor neighbors. And, in this moment, he makes a clear decision that he'd prefer to keep his wealth, rather than follow Christ. Jesus' command for the man to give up his money was not a statement for all believers—it was a challenge to this particular man which demonstrated his ultimate insincerity.

Jesus did not stop the young man to clarify the heart of the gospel. Jesus would soon be killed, however, to pay for the sins of humanity, including the selfishness of this young man. He would be raised on the third day, and His disciples would begin the work of telling the world that God would cover them with the goodness of Jesus for their salvation if they would trust in Christ for eternal life (Ephesians 2:1–10).
What is the Gospel?
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