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Matthew 19:19-21 meaning...

Jesus begins by quoting two fundamental commandments—honor your father and mother, and love your neighbor as yourself. These commandments encapsulate the essence of righteous living and loving others as an extension of self-love.

  • Rich Young Man's Inquiry:

The rich young man affirms his observance of these commandments but senses a void, prompting him to ask, "What do I still lack?" His question unveils a recognition that mere observance of commandments does not necessarily fulfill the deeper call of discipleship.

  • Jesus' Call to Perfection:

Jesus responds with a radical call to perfection. He instructs the young man to go beyond commandment observance and embrace a life of radical generosity and sacrificial giving. The path to perfection involves divesting oneself of earthly wealth for the sake of the Kingdom.

  • Selling Possessions and Giving to the Poor:

The call to sell possessions and give to the poor is a direct challenge to the young man's attachment to material wealth. It's an invitation to break free from the entanglements of earthly treasures and participate in a transformative act of love toward those in need.

  • Promise of Heavenly Treasure:

Jesus assures the young man that by choosing this path of sacrificial giving, he will accumulate treasure in heaven. The promise of heavenly reward transcends the temporal and points to the enduring significance of acts of love and charity.

  • Call to Follow Jesus:

The climax of Jesus' response is an invitation: "Come, follow me." This is the essence of discipleship—to follow Jesus, not only in belief but in the tangible expression of love, generosity, and self-sacrifice.

  • Radical Discipleship:

Jesus' interaction with the rich young man challenges conventional notions of righteousness. Discipleship involves more than adhering to rules; it demands a radical reorientation of priorities, with love for God and neighbor at the forefront.

  • Breaking the Chains of Materialism:

The call to sell possessions and give to the poor addresses the insidious grip of materialism. It is an invitation to break free from the chains of possessions and experience the liberating power of sacrificial generosity.

  • Heavenly Perspective:

The promise of treasure in heaven redirects the focus from temporal wealth to eternal significance. It invites us to view our resources with an eternal perspective, recognizing that acts of love and charity resonate in the heavenly realm.


Cross References:

Mark 10:21: Mark's account adds a poignant detail: "Jesus looking at him loved him." This emphasizes that Jesus' call to radical discipleship stems from a deep well of love for the individual.

Luke 18:22: Luke's version mentions that the young man was very rich, underscoring the significance of the sacrifice being asked—wealth that held great importance in his life.


As we contemplate Matthew 19:19-21, we're confronted with the challenge of discipleship—a call that goes beyond outward observance to the heart of sacrificial love. This passage prompts us to reflect on the nature of our attachments, the extent of our generosity, and the depth of our commitment to follow Jesus.

Are there areas in our lives where material possessions have taken precedence over love for God and neighbor? How willing are we to divest ourselves for the sake of the Kingdom? In answering Jesus' call to perfection, we discover that true richness lies not in earthly treasures but in the boundless love and grace of the One who beckons us to follow Him.

See also: vs 22-23


Matthew 19:19-21. “‘Honor your father and mother.’ And, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” The young man said to him, “All these things I have observed from my youth. What do I still lack?” Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have, and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”