Matthew 19:1 “…region of Judea beyond the Jordan”
Area on the east side of the river. The tribes of Reuben, Gad, and Manasseh had settled there when they first entered the land. Not sure how they handled the tribal divisions after the exile. In order to avoid Samaria, Jews from Galilee would cross the Jordan and head south along the eastern side before crossing back over to Jerusalem.
4 “…made them male and female”
Here we have not only New Testament statement to God’s creation of two sexes/genders, but Jesus Himself is the one making the statement. Gender has never been in dispute and is certainly not fluid. So sad that some today with clear mental illness regarding gender are being sacrificed on the altar of sexual perversion.
6 “…what God has joined together, let not man separate”
This is the standard, what God intended from the beginning. It does not change, and any deviation from this point must refer back to it. Because men have sin natures, divorce happens, but you have to follow the rules which point back to the standard.
10 “…If such is the case of the man with his wife, it is better not to marry”
This section is a repeat of what Jesus has already taught earlier in the book, but the disciples reaction here is helpful. Jesus says the only legitimate reason for divorce is sexual immorality, or sex with someone outside the marriage. This breaks the marriage covenant. Anyone who divorces when there hasn’t been a true covenant break is still joined. If either person then remarries and has sexual relations with their new spouse, they commit adultery when they consummate the union, but only that first time. Adultery is not a perpetual state. The correct thing to do if they divorce or separate without the cause of adultery is to remain single as they are still joined. This is what the disciples reacted to. They realized the permanence of the marriage covenant and the commitment it entails. Such a situation can be heartbreaking and a burden, but the standard doesn’t change because of sin. There is always forgiveness and mercy with God, but He will also honor those who live according to His standards even when it’s difficult. Also, divorce for adultery is allowed, but not required. God would rather that repentance, forgiveness, and reconciliation take place.
11 “…All cannot accept this saying…”
Commentaries suggest Jesus is referring to the statement the disciples made, that it is better not to marry. His reply is no, only for those to whom it has been given, who have been given the ability, whether by natural or unnatural condition or by personal commitment. For most, the idea is to marry, but with full understanding of the commitment made. I think that is the problem today. Those marrying do not completely understand the commitment they are making. They don’t realize the permanence of the situation. They think marriage is a simple contract which they can dissolve whenever and for whatever reason they like.
17 “…Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God…”
The young man called Him good teacher. He wasn’t asking Jesus as the Son of God, but simply as a rabbi, a religious teacher. I’m sure he meant no disrespect, but Jesus was trying to open his eyes to the greater truth. This wasn’t just any teacher before him, it was God Himself.
19 “…You shall love your neighbor as yourself”
This isn’t one of the stated Ten Commandments, but Jesus included it here as it is at the heart of the commandments. He says in another place that the greatest commandment is to love God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength, and that the second is like it, to love your neighbor as yourself. If you do that, you won’t have any problem keeping the specifics like adultery, murder, bearing false witness, etc.
22 “…he went away sorrowful…”
It wasn’t that Jesus wanted him to give everything away, it was that He knew the young man cared more for his riches than God or anyone else. Unfortunately, he also cared more for his riches than he desired eternal life, which is sad when you realize he would lose the riches someday anyway. What does it profit if one gains the whole world and loses his soul.
24 “…easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle…”
I’ve heard other explanations for this phrase besides the obvious hyperbole, namely that the eye of the needle referred to the smaller opening at a city gate. Commentaries mentioned this, but dismissed it. The phrase was commonly used, as was another using an elephant rather than a camel. Best here to take it for what Jesus meant, a literary phrase showing great or extreme difficulty.
25 “…Who then can be saved”
Speculation on what the disciples were thinking here. Commentary suggested it was that all men either have riches or the desire for them, thus who does that leave to be saved. The disciples may have even seen themselves in that boat as those who hoped to have riches in the eternal kingdom. Makes sense. I’ve also wondered if the disciples saw the rich as being blessed by God, thus it should be easier for them to enter as they must be closer to Him. If the blessed of God have a hard time getting in, what does that mean for the rest of us. Possible, but just speculation.
26 “…With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible”
The problem with riches is idolatry, putting them above God. This is a heart problem which man cannot correct on his own. But God is able to change the heart. The existence of riches won’t be a problem if God is in control of the life.
27 “…we have left all…what shall we have”
Still worrying about who is the greatest and what will we get from the kingdom. Jesus goes ahead and tells them plainly what is in store. It was never a secret or speculative. He was only trying to get their eyes off of themselves and on to Him in all things. Don’t worry about things here or in the kingdom, just trust Me.
30 “…many who are first will be last, and the last first”
Interesting statement. In position or in order of receiving reward. General meaning or specific. Commentary suggests this is connected with the parable in the next chapter, but the thinking is more general. The idea that how we tend to judge the order of things may not be the way God does so. The disciples felt at this point that they had left all to follow Jesus, thus they should expect to receive some position denoting their commitment and early choice to do so. But Jesus says that may not be the case. Those who think they are first may be last when judged by the complete righteousness of God. It has become a common saying among ministers when we discuss our propensity to compare ourselves to others that we will probably be surprised at who gets what rewards when we get home. Those who were never in the spotlight on earth may be the ones who achieved the most for the kingdom. Out standards are not God’s. He sees all, both action and intent. Best to humble ourselves before Him and just trust and obey. Leave the judgments and rewards to Him.
I hope you enjoy reading and studying His word. May it accomplish what He desires. Please feel free to comment or post questions. Thanks for reading!
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.