Matthew 19: ‘How to catch a monkey’, the Upside-down Kingdom

We studied this passage at Explore in March, it’s the second half of Matthew 19, and together we got a lot from it.  We used the New Testament for Everyone translation by Tom Wright, that has some lovely turns of phrase!

Suddenly a man came up to Jesus. ‘Teacher,’ he asked, ‘what good thing must I do if I’m to possess the life of the age to come?’

‘Why come to me with questions about what’s good?’ retorted Jesus. ‘There is One who is good! If you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.’

‘Which ones?’ he asked.

‘These ones,’ Jesus answered: ‘ “don’t murder, don’t commit adultery, don’t steal, don’t tell lies under oath, respect your father and mother”, and “love your neighbour as yourself”.’

‘I’ve kept the lot,’ said the young man. ‘What am I still short of?’

‘If you want to complete the set,’ Jesus replied, ‘go and sell everything you own and give it to the poor. That way you’ll have treasure in heaven! Then come and follow me.’

When the young man heard him say that, he went away very sad. He had many possessions.

Jesus said to his disciples, ‘I’m telling you the truth: it’s very hard for a rich person to get into the kingdom of heaven. Let me say it again: it’s easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter God’s kingdom.’

The disciples were completely flabbergasted when they heard that. ‘So who then can be saved?’ they asked.

Jesus looked round at them. ‘Humanly speaking,’ he replied, ‘it’s impossible. But everything’s possible with God.’

Then Peter spoke up. ‘Look here,’ he said, ‘we’ve left everything behind and followed you. What can we expect?’

‘I’m telling you the truth,’ Jesus replied. ‘In God’s great new world, when the son of man sits on his glorious throne, those of you who have followed me will sit on twelve thrones – yes, you! – and rule over the twelve tribes of Israel. And anyone who’s left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or estates because of my name will get back a hundred times over, and will inherit the life of that new age. But many at the front will find themselves at the back, and the back ones at the front.’

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