Daily Word

What’s missing? | Matthew 19:16-22

16 And someone came to Him and said, “Teacher, what good thing shall I do so that I may obtain eternal life?” 17 And He said to him, “Why are you asking Me about what is good? There is only One who is good; but if you want to enter life, keep the commandments.” 18 Then he *said to Him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not commit murder; you shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not give false testimony; 19 Honor your father and mother; and You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

20 The young man *said to Him, “All these I have kept; what am I still lacking?” 21 Jesus said to him, “If you want to be [ k ] complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” 22 But when the young man heard this statement, he went away grieving; for he was one who owned much property.

Matthew 19:16-22 (NASB)

Random question

As seemingly random as the parents bringing their children for a blessing as in the previous post, the young rich man comes to Jesus with his question about gaining eternal life. He is interested to know what is missing. When Jesus asked him, “Why are you asking Me about what is good?” He was actually asking, as the Luke (Luke 18:18) and Mark (Mark 10:17) accounts record it, “Why do you call Me good?”  The man referred to Jesus as “Good teacher” in those accounts. Since Jesus didn’t rebuke the man for calling Him good, we can say Jesus was confirming that He is God.

Which ones?

The man’s second question belies his heart. Of course, without faith in Christ’s substitutionary death, he should keep all the commandments. But he focused on certain ones that he thought he could keep – and he probably diligently worked to keep them. Using your Bible study skills, what do we observe about the commandments in Jesus’ list? 1) It’s only 5, not the full 10. 2) The 5 He tells him are the 5 related to sins against others (the other 5 are related to God).

Did Jesus mean to say just these 5? I don’t think so. Jesus has insight into his life and soul and knows his sin. He’s a rich guy. If anything, he probably wasn’t loving his neighbor as himself – not to mention the other 5.

What’s missing?

Even after reviewing the list Jesus gives him, he still senses he’s missing something for he says, “what am I still lacking?” He’s honest with himself and Jesus. He knows his good works aren’t good enough. Every person knows good works are never enough.

Entrance to eternal life is not based on keeping the commandments (good works), that’s impossible – as Jesus explains in the next section. Paul makes it clear in Ephesians 2:8-9 that salvation is by faith, not works. And in Romans 3:23 he tells us all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Every person has broken at least one of these commands.


  • Have you failed in keeping all the commandments? Do you realize that your good works are not enough to forgive and cleanse you of your sin?  If so, click here
  • If we’re honest, we’ve probably broken all of the commandments. Jesus already told us that sin starts in the mind (Matthew 5:28). I’d encourage a thoughtful and prayerful review following Psalms 139:23-24 followed by confession following Psalm 51’s pattern.
Missing puzzle piece. Image from Pxfuel.com

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