For us to enter the kingdom of God, we must deny ourselves of worldly possessions and see the kingdom of God as our priority. Mathew 6:33. We must also understand that wealth is good especially the one gotten from the blessings of God but wealth that has taken the place of God in our lives has become a curse and can hinder one from eternal life.
Matthew 19:26 is one the popular scripture in the bible that is commonly used. This verse tell us about the sovereign power of God. We cannot do anything without Him because the power to will and do His good pleasure resides with Him.
It reveals that salvation comes only from God and not through material things or our good works towards people. One cannot receive salvation just by being good. The scriptures says only God is good. It is only God that has the power to save sinners and give them eternal life. We cannot save ourselves because no human has such capacity to do so.
Let’s explore the true meaning of this bible verse by also looking into the preceding verses for better understanding.
Who wrote Matthew 19:26 and who was he?
Matthew 19:26 was written by one by the disciples of Jesus named Matthew. He was a Levite, and a tax collector before Jesus called him to be one of His disciples. He left his job as a tax collector and followed Christ. He gave an account of the teachings and life of Jesus.
What is the context of Matthew 19?
The context of Matthew 19 is about Marriage, divorce, children, riches and stewardship.
Genesis 1:27 says “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” It reveals that God created them differently, man and woman, and He joined them together in marriage.
Marriage is the first institution created by God. Jesus made it clear that there must be a leaving and cleaving in verse 5-6 of Mathew “And said, for this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.“ The man and woman will come together as one, completing one another as one flesh. Their coming together includes sexual intimacy but it’s far beyond this.
They will not only do one thing together but do all things together. Coming together does not mean in polygamy as this was not God’s intention from the beginning as seen in the Old Testament Genesis 2:24.
Marriage is a spiritual obligatory before God and not a mere contract which must be honored by man. Nothing should come between the both parties expect death. Marriage is a commitment. It is not what should be taken lightly or rushed into because it is a spiritual transaction.
This Chapter also talked about divorce. The Pharisees thought Moses commanded divorce. God cannot command the coming together of two people for their purpose for separation at the end. Verse 7-9 says “They say unto him, why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away? He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so. And I say unto you, whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery”
God only permitted divorce on the basis of sexual immorality on either sides. Divorce must never be thought as God ordained. Divorce and the liberty to remarry without sin is when there is a case of adultery.
When a man or woman remarries without proper divorce papers, they commit sin because they are still married in the eyes of God. They also commit bigamy in the eyes of the law.
God allowed divorce in the Old Testament because of the hardness of the hearts of the Pharisees. However, the scripture identified some people referred to as Eunuchs who are born so from their mother’s womb without the capacity of sex and marriage, some are made Eunuchs by others while others voluntarily choose to abstain from marriage for the glory of God and the sake of heaven. (Matthew 19:12)
Little children were brought to Jesus but the disciples rebuked them and Jesus forbade the disciples from doing such. He requested that they be brought to Him as such is the kingdom of heaven. It shows that Jesus was a man that liked children, He emphasized that we must be humble, and become as little children for one to enter the kingdom of heaven.
“And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me. ” (Matthew 18:3-5). He laid his hands on them and blessed them (Matthew 19:13-15)
Jesus also taught about riches and stewardship. There was a young rich ruler who asked Jesus about inheriting eternal life. He was a man who obeyed God and His commandments.
He called Jesus, good teacher because he wanted to know the good works he could do that will earn him eternal life. And Jesus responded that asking why he called Him good? Because no one is good except God.
Jesus went ahead and told him to keep all the commandments without failing in one if he must inherit life everlasting. The rich ruler told Jesus he obeys and keeps all the commandment from his youth and asked if there was anything other thing he lacked.
Jesus replied “Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.” (Matthew 19:21)
The rich ruler became sad, miserable and went his way. This will be the same experience for anyone who exalt worldly things above the Almighty God. This was a difficult task for the rich ruler because he had great possessions which he does not want to part with.
His possessions were already a ‘god’ to him rather than becoming a disciple of Jesus. His riches was already a barrier against becoming one of Jesus’s disciple. It depicts that the rich ruler does not love God with the whole of his mind and heart and neither does he love his neighbour as commanded by God in Matthew 22:34-40. There is nothing God cannot demand from an individual.
This leads us to the parable Jesus made in Verse 23-24 “Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, that a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. And again I say unto you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.”
No one desires to be poor because poverty stinks and sometimes, riches draw many away from God. Riches at times tend to make us satisfied with this life and forget about eternal life, life everlasting. Some go as far as seeking wealth at the expense of seeking God.
One major problem with our society today is that we have allowed the “Laodicea syndrome” to consume us (Revelations 3:17) because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: They were only concerned about “self”.
The disciples were amazed at the saying of Jesus and asked who then can be saved? He responded with verse 26 saying “but Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, with men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.” Jesus is saying that it is feasible for rich people to be saved also but through the grace of God. Such is the case of father Abraham, Isaac, Barnabas, Joseph of Arimathea.
They were rich and were able to put God first before their riches. Also, you don’t also have to be poor to enter the kingdom of heaven. Peter then asked in verse 27-30 what their reward will be after leaving all to follow Christ as a result of the scenario of the rich ruler.
Jesus informed them of the outstanding honour awaiting them in the future. Uncommon honour await those who have abandoned or sacrificed all for the sake of Christ. These ones shall receive a hundred fold blessings, including life everlasting.
God is not a debtor, He owes no man. He does not think as man thinks. His ways are different!
What does the Biblical translations of Matthew 19:26 say?
Matthew 19:26 NIV says (New International Version) says: "Jesus looked at them and said, 'With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.'"
Matthew 19:26 ESV (English Standard Version) says: "But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”"
Matthew 19:26 KJV (King James Version) says: "But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible."
What is the meaning of Matthew 19:26?
Matthew 19:26 means Salvation is impossible with men but not with God. Salvation is impossible without faith and obeying God’s commandments. (Luke 1:37) says “For nothing shall be impossible with God.” God is all powerful and nothing is impossible for Him.
However, He will not do anything contradictory to His word neither will He do anything outside His will. If one must be a true Christian or follower of God, one must die to self.
You must repent of your old ways and turn to God by obeying every of His commandments. James 2:10 says “for whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all”.
The rich man’s action reveals that he loved his possessions more than God. He had idolized his wealth and status. Remember that Matthew 32:37-40 says the first and greatest commandment instructed by Christ “Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
A call to following Christ is a call to putting God first in all things. Jesus was calling this rich man to be His disciple just like He did to other disciples.
However, this man thought the call was for him to leave all his riches behind in which his heart is set upon. The rich is often distracted by his wealth thinking he has no need for salvation and so relies on his wealth for security, instead of on God. He think his wealth can get him everything he will ever need.
This is not only about the rich man but all of us. Poverty on the other hand, is not a requirement for Salvation, neither is it a punishment. As believers, whether rich or poor, we still sin against God and it will be impossible for us to see the kingdom of God. The most important thing is having a right relationship with God.
The disciples were amazed that such a simple instruction from Jesus to the rich man could deny him from entering the kingdom of God.
They became worried about themselves and asked Jesus who then can be saved? And His (Jesus) response was “With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.” It reveals that with the strength of man, eternal life is not in view. Eternal life is only possible with faith through Christ Jesus.
Meaning of “With Man This is Impossible”
“With man this is impossible” means Salvation is impossible with man because man is limited. Man cannot deliver himself from the consequences of sin which leads to death and separation from God.
The bible recorded that the righteousness of man is as a filthy rag before God. (Isaiah 64:4) “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.” It is difficult for man to resist the earthly things that comes with wealth unless the Spirit of God dominates such hearts
Righteousness comes ONLY from Christ and not through our good works. Our good works is not enough to take us to heaven. The only ticket to heaven is Salvation (Rom 10:8-10) says “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation
Meaning of “With God all Things are Possible”
“With God all things are possible” means since God is all omnipotent and supreme, all things are possible with Him, including salvation. Salvation is only possible by the grace of God. We cannot save ourselves, we need Christ to save us because we are sinful. Although, He will do anything we ask of Him but not things outside His will or against His word.
History shows that God specializes in the impossible. Whatever seems difficult for man, that’s when God steps in. If being saved is possible with God, then the poor and the rich must seek Him by total submission in faith to His plan and will. Ephesians 2:8-9 says “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. “ Salvation is obtained by grace and not through any man.
How Matthew 19: 26 misused?
Matthew 19:26 is often misused as an entitlement benefit. God is the creator of the universe, sovereign God of law and order. There is nothing God cannot do but He will not break His covenants just to suit us. (Psalms 89:34) “My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips.”
We cannot not expect Him to contradict His established laws because there are rules to follow in order to enjoy His blessings.
Some people often misuse this verse as their “fortune charm” to do evil. They often use it when they cheat in school, their business partners or do things contrary to God’s commandments.
Often times, people think since there is nothing impossible for God, they can achieve anything or task they set to do even if it is against the word of God. This is not possible, it can only be on God’s terms. God is not a magician neither is He a puppet.
Although, God guarantees us success but He also allows some disappointment because our desire might not be His will for our lives. It doesn’t mean He is less powerful or has relented on His promises. No! Sometimes, it is His will to miss some opportunities. It is not all open doors are doors of breakthrough or doors of opportunities, some are trap in disguise. Caution! Caution!!
We will only trap ourselves in distress, frustration and depression when we misuse the phrase “with men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.” God is omnipotent and loving, He will not give us the absolute power to accomplish our own will which will hurt us.
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)
How do I reflect and apply Matthew 19:26 to our lives?
Here are some tips on applying Matthew 19:26 to your lives:
You must constantly evaluate your standing with God. Am I standing right with Christ?
Has my wealth/ possessions taken the place of God in my heart?
Am I serving God with my time, energy as well as my resources?
Am I ready to submit totally to God and His instructions?
Is my service to God in my own terms or in His terms? What is His perfect will for my life?
We need to understand that our salvation cannot be achieved by personal effort. It requires total submission, humility and trust in God. Wealth cannot hinder us from being saved but the one that has taking the place of God in our heart. In actual fact, Jesus was only trying to explain how difficult it is for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. He did not say it is impossible. Mathew 19:23-24
Do not let the love of the world replace your love for Christ, rather submit to Him and yield yourselves to His sovereign plan, trusting him to do what is best for you.
How to Pray Matthew 19:26
Sovereign God, Thank You for You have made a place for us in heaven. We trust that all things are possible with You. Your promises endures forever and there is no impossible case with You. By Your Spirit, grant us strength and courage to display our total confidence in You and in Your word. All glory and honour be to You in Jesus name AMEN