Chapter 19: “What Lack I Yet?”

The Life and Teachings of Jesus and His Apostles, (1979), 128–33

Map Chp. 19

The Perean Ministry





Samaria, Galilee

Beginning of the Final Journey to Jerusalem

Jesus Heals Ten Lepers





Discourse on the Kingdom of God




Two Parables:

The Widow and the Unjust Judge

The Pharisee and the Publican





Across the Jordan into Perea

Headed Toward Jerusalem

19:1, 2



Jesus Speaks of Marriage and Divorce




He Blesses Little Children





Rich Young Ruler Seeks Eternal Life

Parable of Laborers in Vineyard

19:16–30; 20:1–16




Jesus Goes Before the Twelve Toward Jerusalem





Near Jericho, Judea

James and John Aspire to Greatness




Bartimaeus Healed of Blindness





Jericho, Judea

Salvation Comes to Zacchaeus the Publican




Jericho, Judea

Parable of the Ten Pounds




Jerusalem, Judea

Many Seek Jesus



Bethany, Judea

Jesus Is Anointed by Mary at Simon’s Supper





Interpretive Commentary

(19-1) Luke 17:14. Why Were the Ten Lepers to Show Themselves to the Priests?

For a leper, “in the day of his cleansing,” the prescribed means of obtaining permission to reenter society required him to show himself to the priests of the people. (Read Leviticus 14:2, 3.)

Jesus also told the lepers to show themselves to the priests as a test of their faith. When all ten believed and complied with the terms of the cure, all were healed “as they went” to visit the priests. (See McConkie, DNTC, 1:536.)

(19-2) Luke 17:17, 18. “Were There Not Ten Cleansed?”

The one who returned to give thanks was a Samaritan, and “perhaps this exhibition of gratitude by a Samaritan was another evidence to the apostles that all men are acceptable to the Lord and that the Jewish claim to exclusive superiority as a chosen race was soon to be replaced with a command to take the gospel of peace to all races.” (McConkie, DNTC, 1:537.)

(19-3) Luke 17:20. Why Did Jesus Say “the Kingdom of God Cometh Not with Observation”?

“Prophecies foretelling the events incident to the first and second comings of the Messiah were confused in the minds of the Jews. They falsely assumed that at his first coming he would come with an outward display of power which would overthrow and destroy all earthly kingdoms. Accordingly, basing their inquiry on a false premise, and with some apparent sarcasm, they demand an answer to this mocking question: ‘If thou art the promised Messiah, as you have repeatedly claimed to be, when will thy power be manifest, when will the Roman yoke be broken, when will the kingdom of God actually come?’” (McConkie, DNTC, 1:539.)

(19-4) Luke 17:21. What Is Meant by “the Kingdom of God Is within You”?

“One of the heresies which prevails in a large part of modern Christendom is the concept that Jesus did not organize a Church or set up a formal kingdom through which salvation might be offered to men. This poorly translated verse is one of those used to support the erroneous concept that the kingdom of God is wholly spiritual; that it is made up of those who confess Jesus with their lips, regardless of what church affiliation they may have; that the kingdom of God is within every person in the sense that all have the potential of attaining the highest spiritual goals; and that baptism, the laying on of hands, celestial marriage, and other ordinances and laws are not essential to the attainment of salvation.

“It is true that men have the inherent capacity to gain salvation in the celestial world; in a sense this power is within them; and so it might be said that the kingdom of God is within a person, if it is understood that such expression means that a person can gain that eternal world by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel. But it is also true that Jesus did organize his Church and did give the keys of such kingdom to legal administrators on earth. (Matt. 16:13–19.)

“Even the marginal reading in the King James Version changes the language here involved to read, ‘The kingdom of God is in the midst of you,’ meaning ‘The Church is now organized in the midst of your society.’ The Prophet’s rendering of Jesus’ thought, as such is recorded in the Inspired Version, is of course the best of all. Its essential meaning is: ‘The Church and kingdom has already been organized; it is here; it has come unto you; now enter the kingdom, obey its laws and be saved.’” (McConkie, DNTC, 1:540.)

“Neither shall they say, Lo, here! or Lo, there! For, behold, the kingdom of God has already come unto you.” (Luke 17:21, Inspired Version.)

(19-5) Luke 18:1–8. Why Did the Lord Give the Parable of the Unjust Judge?

“The judge was of wicked character; he denied justice to the widow, who could obtain redress from none other. He was moved to action by the desire to escape the woman’s importunity. Let us beware of the error of comparing his selfish action with the ways of God. Jesus did not indicate that as the wicked judge finally yielded to supplication so would God do; but He pointed out that if even such a being as this judge, who ‘feared not God, neither regarded man,’ would at last hear and grant the widow’s plea, no one should doubt that God, the Just and Merciful, will hear and answer. The judge’s obduracy, though wholly wicked on his part, may have been ultimately advantageous to the widow. Had she easily obtained redress she might have become again unwary, and perchance a worse adversary than the first might have oppressed her. The Lord’s purpose in giving the parable is specifically stated; it was ‘to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint.’” (Talmage, Jesus the Christ, p. 436; read also D&C 101:81–92.)

(19-6) Luke 18:9–14. Why Did the Lord Give the Parable of the Pharisee and Publican?

“We are expressly told that this parable was given for the benefit of certain ones who trusted in their self-righteousness as an assurance of justification before God. It was not addressed to the Pharisees nor to the publicans specifically. The two characters are types of widely separated classes. There may have been much of the Pharisaic spirit of self-complacency among the disciples and some of it even among the Twelve. … The parable is applicable to all men; its moral was summed up in a repetition of our Lord’s words spoken in the house of the chief Pharisee. …” (Talmage, Jesus the Christ, pp. 472–73; read also Luke 18:14.)

(19-7) Matthew 19:6. “What Therefore God Hath Joined Together, Let Not Man Put Asunder”

“As here recorded, our Lord’s teachings about marriage and divorce are fragmentary and incomplete. They can only be understood when considered in connection with the law of celestial marriage as such has been revealed anew in modern times. These same general principles governing eternal marriage were known to and understood by the disciples in Jesus’ day and also, in part at least, by the Pharisees. But the accounts here preserved by both Matthew and Mark of the Master’s discussion on marriage and divorce are so condensed and abbreviated that they do not give a clear picture of the problem. Modern scriptural exegetes need the same background and knowledge possessed by those who engaged in the original discussion.

“To have a correct understanding of the part marriage and divorce play in the divine scheme of things, at least the following principles must be known:

“Marriage and the family unit are the central part of the plan of progression and exaltation. All things center in and around the family unit in the eternal perspective. Exaltation consists in the continuation of the family unit in eternity. Those for whom the family unit continues have eternal life; all others have a lesser degree of salvation in the mansions that are prepared. …

“Celestial or eternal marriage is the gate to exaltation. To fill the full measure of his creation and obtain eternal life a man must enter into this order of matrimony and keep all of the covenants and obligations that go with it. If a couple is so sealed, the two persons become husband and wife in this life and continue in the same relationship in the world to come. (D&C 131:1–4; 132.) …

“Divorce is not part of the gospel plan no matter what kind of marriage is involved. But because men in practice do not always live in harmony with gospel standards, the Lord permits divorce for one reason or another, depending upon the spiritual stability of the people involved. In ancient Israel men had power to divorce their wives for relatively insignificant reasons. (Deut. 24:1–4.) Under the most perfect conditions there would be no divorce permitted except where sex sin was involved. In this day the divorces are permitted in accordance with civil statutes, and the divorced persons are permitted by the Church to marry again without the stain of immorality which under a higher system would attend such a course.” (McConkie, DNTC, 1:546–47.)

(19-8) Matthew 19:27. “Behold, We Have Forsaken All, and Followed Thee; What Shall We Have Therefore?”

“The sorrowful departure of the rich young ruler, whose great possessions were so much a part of his life that he could not give them up at the time, though we may hope that he afterward did, brought forth from Peter an abrupt question, which revealed the course of his thoughts and aspirations: ‘Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore?’ Whether he spoke for himself alone, or by his use of the plural ‘we’ meant to include all the Twelve, is uncertain and unimportant. He was thinking of the home and family he had left, and a longing for them was pardonable; he was thinking also of boats and nets, hooks and lines, and the lucrative business for which such things stood. All these he had forsaken; what was to be his reward? Jesus answered: ‘Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.’ It is doubtful that Peter or any other of the Twelve had ever conceived of so great a distinction. The day of regeneration, when the Son of Man shall sit on the throne of His glory, as Judge and King, is even yet future; but in that day, those of the Lord’s Twelve who endured to the end shall be enthroned as judges in Israel. The further assurance was given that ‘every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.’ Rewards of such transcendent worth could scarcely be reckoned or their meaning comprehended. Lest those to whom they were promised might count too surely upon successful attainment, to the neglect of effort, and become proud withal, the Lord added this profound precept of caution: ‘But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first.’” (Talmage, Jesus the Christ, p. 478–79.)

(19-9) Luke 19:11–28. Why Did Jesus Give the Parable of the Pounds?

“Jesus was enroute to Jerusalem for the last time. In about ten days he would die upon the cross, and to the Jews generally it would appear that he had failed to set up the promised Messianic kingdom. To correct the false concept that ‘the kingdom of God’—meaning the political kingdom, the kingdom which should rule all nations with King Messiah at its head, the millennial kingdom—‘should immediately appear,’ Jesus gave the Parable of the Pounds. Compare: Parable of the Talents. (Matt. 25:14–30.)” (McConkie, DNTC, 1:571.)

(19-10) Matthew 26:6. How Far Was Bethany from Jerusalem?

Bethany was 15 furlongs, or about 2 miles, from Jerusalem, beyond the Mount of Olives. (See John 11:18 and Mark 11:1.)

Mount of Olives

(19-11) Matthew 26:6–13; John 12:2–8. What of the Anointing of Jesus with Spikenard?

“To anoint the head of a guest with ordinary oil was to do him honor; to anoint his feet also was to show unusual and signal regard; but the anointing of head and feet with spikenard, and in such abundance, was an act of reverential homage rarely rendered even to kings. Mary’s act was an expression of adoration; it was the fragrant outwelling of a heart overflowing with worship and affection.” (Talmage, Jesus the Christ, p. 512.)

Points to Ponder

To Follow the Savior, “What Lack I Yet?”

(19-12) Matthew 19:16–20. “What Good Thing Shall I Do, That I May Have Eternal Life?”

“There came to Jesus, on a certain occasion, a rich young man who asked: ‘What good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?’

“Our Lord’s answer was the obvious one, the one given by all the prophets of all the ages. It was: ‘If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.’

“The next question was: ‘Which commandments?’

“Jesus listed them: ‘Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Honor thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.’

“Then came this response and query—for the young man was a good man, a faithful man, one who sought righteousness: ‘All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?’

“We might well ask, ‘Isn’t it enough to keep the commandments? What more is expected of us than to be true and faithful to every trust? Is there more than the law of obedience?’

“In the case of our rich young friend there was more. He was expected to live the law of consecration, to sacrifice his earthly possessions, for the answer of Jesus was: ‘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.

“As you know, the young man went away sorrowful, ‘for he had great possessions.’ (Matt. 19:16–22.) And we are left to wonder what intimacies he might have shared with the Son of God, what fellowship he might have enjoyed with the apostles, what revelations and visions he might have received, if he had been able to live the law of a celestial kingdom. As it is he remains nameless; as it might have been, his name could have been had in honorable remembrance among the saints forever.

“Now I think it is perfectly clear that the Lord expects far more of us than we sometimes render in response. We are not as other men. We are the saints of God and have the revelations of heaven. Where much is given much is expected. We are to put first in our lives the things of his kingdom.” (Bruce R. McConkie in CR, Apr. 1975, pp. 75–76.)

Following Christ

(19-13) “The Lord Wants You to Give the Balance of Your Life to the Church”

“We were in Canada. I was … an attorney for an oil company and a manager of it. We were drilling wells and making money. I was at the moment up in the Canadian Rockies, way back from the highways. We were drilling there. Everything looked very prosperous. I woke very early one morning before daylight. I was troubled in my mind, and I didn’t know the source or the reason for the trouble. And I began to pray, but didn’t seem to get an answer. And I remembered that the Savior was wont to go into the mountain tops frequently. You remember, his life was punctuated by mountain peaks. There is the mountain peak of the temptation, there is the mountain peak of the transfiguration, there is the mountain peak of the Beatitudes, there is the mountain peak from which he took flight into heaven. So thinking about this, I arose before daylight and went back up into the hills where I knew no one would be near. And when I got up on an advantageous point, I began to talk out loud. I was talking to God! Now, I do not mean that he was standing there listening to me or replying to me. But I mean from the center of my heart I was calling to him.

“Now my family were all in good health, all quite prosperous, and it looked as for myself that within a few days I would be a multimillionaire. And yet, I was depressed. And up there on that mountain peak I said to him, ‘O God, if what it seems is about to happen will happen, and if it is not to be for the best good of myself and my family and my friends, don’t let it happen. Take it from me.’ I said, ‘Don’t let it happen unless in your wisdom it is good for me.’ Well, I left the mountains and came down to the camp. I got into my car and drove to the city of Edmonton. It was a Friday, and while I was driving I was thinking of what had happened. And I felt that there was something impending that I couldn’t understand. When I arrived home, and after a bite to eat, I said to Sister Brown, ‘I think I’ll occupy the back bedroom because I’m afraid I’m not going to sleep.’ Now I went in the bedroom alone and there, through the night, I had the most terrible battle with the powers of the adversary. I wanted to destroy myself. Not in the sense of suicide; but something within me was impelling me to wish that I could cease to be. … It was terrible. The blackness was so thick you could feel it.

“Sister Brown came in later in the night, toward morning in fact, wanting to know what was the matter. And when she closed the door, she said, ‘What’s in this room?’ And I said, ‘Nothing but the power of the devil is in this room.’ And we knelt together by the bedside and prayed for release. We spent the night together, the balance of it. And in the morning I went down to my office. It was Saturday now and there was no one at the office. And in going into the office, I knelt by a cot and asked God for deliverance from the darkness that had enveloped me. And coming from somewhere there was an element of peace, the kind of peace that rests on the souls of men when they make contact with God. And I called her and said, ‘Everything is all right, or is going to be!’

“That night at 10:00 o’clock, October 1953—the telephone rang. Sister Brown answered. She called me and said, ‘Salt Lake’s calling,’ and I wondered who could be calling me from that far away. I took the phone and said, ‘Hello.’ ‘This is David O. McKay calling. The Lord wants you to give the balance of your life to Him and His Church. We are in a conference of the Church. The concluding session will be tomorrow afternoon. Can you get here?’

“I told him I couldn’t get there because there were no planes flying, but I would get there as soon as possible. I knew that a call had come. And the call came after this awful conflict with the adversary. And when he said, ‘The Lord wants you to give the balance of your life to the Church,’ I knew that it meant giving up the money; it meant that I’d turn everything over to someone else and go to Salt Lake without monetary remuneration.

“Since that time, I’ve been happier than ever before in my life. The men with whom I was associated have made millions. And yet, when one of them was in my office not long ago in Salt Lake, he said, ‘I am worth at least seven million dollars. I would gladly give every dollar of it to you if you could give me what you have. I can’t buy it with money, but I’d like to have what you have. What you have is peace of soul, and I cannot buy that with money.’” (Hugh B. Brown, “Eternal Progression,” Address to the student body, Church College of Hawaii, 16 Oct. 1964, pp. 8–10.)

(19-14) Going on to Perfection

The gospel of Christ is the power of God unto salvation (Romans 1:16), but that power can be fully released only for the perfection of the individual as he is willing to sacrifice all earthly things in the service of the Master. Elder Bruce R. McConkie concludes:

“It is our privilege to consecrate our time, talents, and means to build up his kingdom. We are called upon to sacrifice, in one degree or another, for the furtherance of his work. Obedience is essential to salvation; so, also, is service; and so, also, are consecration and sacrifice.” (CR, Apr. 1975, p. 76.)