In Matthew 19:16-24, we see this remarkable narrative of a rich young man. He comes to Jesus asking Him what he must do to have eternal life. But, he does not ask it in that fashion. No, in verse 16 he asks, “what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” To this Jesus gives an astonishing answer.
This answer does two very important things. First, it reveals that for Jesus to answer the question of what is good He must be the one who is good (v. 17). This, of course, is God alone who is good. This is a clear reference to the deity of Jesus as God, the Second Person of the Trinity. Second, He shows that keeping the commandments is not enough to earn eternal life (vv. 17-22). In this section, Jesus lays out the commandments of God and says these were to be kept perfectly, which only the one who is good—Jesus Christ Himself, can do this. But, Jesus’ answer goes even deeper than this.
You see, this rich young man had extreme wealth. He was comfortable and enjoyed what he had. He felt secure in his money. Jesus knew this. Jesus knew this man had his money as his real God but he wanted his “fire insurance” with this. He wanted a pass to heaven without really placing faith in Christ. Jesus knew this and He called him on what was his true God: wealth (vv. 21-22).
This is brought into focus in verses 23-24, “And Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly, I say to you, only with difficulty will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” This statement is not saying that rich people cannot be saved, that there is no hope for them. No, it states what is true, most wealthy people have all they need and want so why do they need Jesus? Many want what this rich young man wanted, a pass to heaven without real belief.
Money is of no use to us in the eternal scheme. Money, earthly wealth, and any other materialistic item will disappear, rust, or can be taken (c.f. Matt. 6:19). You may have everything in the here and now but if you have not believed upon Jesus for everlasting life, then this wealth is all you will ever have. Jesus says it is very hard for the wealthy to enter because they depend on their wealth. Do not depend on your wealth, depend on Jesus and the work He has performed for you (1 Cor. 15:1-4). He did this so the rich, poor, and all in between can have everlasting life with Him if they will just believe.