The Scriptorium

Not So Fast

Make sure you know what you're asking. And Whom. Matthew 19.16-22

Matthew 19: Kingdom Counsel (4)

Pray Psalm 63.1, 2
O God, You are my God;
Early will I seek You;
My soul thirsts for You;
My flesh longs for You
In a dry and thirsty land
Where there is no water.
So I have looked for You in the sanctuary,
To see Your power and Your glory.

Sing Psalm 63.1, 2.
(Nun Danken: Now Thank We All Our God)
O God, You are my God, and earnestly I seek You!
My soul thirsts and my flesh in weariness now greets You!
Thus I would see Your face, with glory and pow’r arrayed,
In this Your holy place – Your beauty here displayed.

Matthew 19.1-22; meditate on verses 16-22.

1. What was the young man seeking from Jesus?

2. What prevented him from being able to gain that?

Three times in this vignette, Jesus said to the young man, in effect, “Not so fast.” His purpose in each case was to make the young man stop and think. Which he did, although he didn’t like the conclusions he reached.

First, Jesus interrupted the young man when he referred to Jesus as “Good Teacher”. Hold on, friend; not so fast. Jesus wanted the young man to think about that, and to think about the Person he was addressing, Who did not deny that the title was appropriate for Him, but Who turned the address into a not-so-veiled claim of Deity: “Not so fast, young man. Do you realize you’re talking with God?”

It’s a good question to keep in mind whenever we turn to Jesus in prayer.

Second, Jesus led the young man to reflect on the Law of God, and its requirements for gaining “eternal life” (v. 16). “Not so fast, young man. You want eternal life? In the terms you and I know you’re thinking about? Fine. All you have to do is keep God’s Law perfectly, entirely, and at all times.”

The young man’s reply, “Done that,” showed where his true thinking was. He was coming with his own works to gain the salvation God alone gives freely: “What do I still lack?”

How easy it is to lapse into the mindset that believes that we and our good works sre impressive to God, or actually gain His favor. In fact, any good works that might issue from us are only because God is at work within us, willing and doing according to His good pleasure (Phil. 2.13).

Then, finally, Jesus says, “Not so fast” to the young man by putting his finger on the real problem keeping this man from following Him into eternal life: his stuff: “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.”

Matthew says the young man turned away sad, “for he had great possessions.” In fact, his possessions had him, just like everything has us that we cannot or will not give up in order to follow Jesus. Like your leisure time more than time in the Word or in serving Jesus? Like your stuff more than Him? Like the convenience of doing what you want when you want, without having to consider how this or that contributes to your witness for Christ? Like not having to read and study God’s Word – since it gets in the way of TV or surfing the web or a little extra sleep, or whatever?

Like any of those things more than Jesus, and you’re kidding yourself if you think you believe in Him truly.

Would Jesus say, “Not so fast” to you?

1. Why can we not be saved by keeping the Law of God?

2. Why was the young man correct in addressing Jesus as “Good Teacher”?

3. What things in your life can potentially keep you from following Jesus into eternal life?

When he has sold it to give it all to the poor, he has begun to prepare for himself a treasure in the kingdom of heaven. Nor is this sufficient for perfection unless after despising riches he follows the Savior, that is, abandons evil and does good. For more easily is a little purse despised than one’s will. Many abandon their wealth but do not follow the Savior. To follow the Savior is to be an imitator of him and walk in his steps.
Jerome (347-420), Commentary on Matthew 3.19.211

O Lord, let there be nothing in the way of my following You today, so that I…

Pray Psalm 63.3-11.
Praise the Lord for His steadfast love, and call on Him to help you love Him and your neighbor more completely and consistently.

Sing Psalm 63.3-11.
Psalm 63.3-11 (Nun Danken: Now Thank We All Our God)
Your steadfast love, O Lord, than life is better to me.
So I will praise Your Name, and bless You, Lord, most truly.
My soul is richly blest; to You my hands I raise,
and open now my mouth to offer joyful praise.

By night, Lord, fill my mind with pleasant meditation;
for You have been my help as ‘neath Your wings I station.
My soul clings, Lord, to You; I rest in Your Right Hand;
may all who seek my life in Your displeasure stand.

Unto the sword’s strong pow’r let our foes be delivered!
Pursue them to devour their mortal lives forever!
In God will we rejoice and glory in His grace;
but all who live by lies shall perish from His face.

T. M. Moore

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All quotations from Church Fathers from
Ancient Christian Commentary Series, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2006). All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (available by clicking here).

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.
Books by T. M. Moore