Matthew 19:16–26 (NKJV, also appearing in Mark 10:17–27; Luke 18:18–27)
16 Now behold, one came and said to Him, “Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?”
17 So He said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.”
18 He said to Him, “Which ones?”
Jesus said, “ ‘You shall not murder,’ ‘You shall not commit adultery,’ ‘You shall not steal,’ ‘You shall not bear false witness,’ 19 ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ ”
20 The young man said to Him, “All these things I have kept from my youth. What do I still lack?”
A young man approached Jesus looking for direction and affirmation. What must I do? He began with a compliment, calling Jesus “Good Teacher.” Jesus rebuffed the title and responded by telling the young man that he must keep the commandments. He asked for clarification, which Jesus gave. The young man announced that he had kept them all since he was young. What else is there?
21 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.”
22 But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.
23 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “Assuredly, I say to you that it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”
25 When His disciples heard it, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?”
26 But Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
Jesus replied further that the young man should sell all his possessions, give the money to the poor, and follow Jesus. The young man was stymied by the suggestion, having great wealth, and went away. Jesus used this as a teaching moment, telling His disciples how difficult it would be for a rich person to enter heaven, but that with God all things are possible.
This conversation between the young man and Jesus is an example of how obedience to the law is not enough to be saved, but relationship with Christ. Jesus wanted the young man to put Him first and walk with Him in discipleship. The young man was proud of his accomplishments as an observer of the law, but Jesus wanted more. It is the same for every individual. Knowing about Jesus and His law is not salvific. The law is important, leading one to right living and showing us what is sin and therefore to be avoided. But sheer obedience to the law is no substitute for relationship with Jesus. Follow Him, Love Him, Live with Him. That is the road to salvation. That is the right choice!