Friday, September 26, 2008

The rich young ruler

Probably one of my favorite passages to teach from, due to the clearness of the message.

Mk 10:17As He was setting out on a journey, a man ran up to Him and knelt before Him, and asked Him, "Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?" 18And Jesus said to him, "Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone. 19"You know the commandments, 'DO NOT MURDER, DO NOT COMMIT ADULTERY, DO NOT STEAL, DO NOT BEAR FALSE WITNESS, Do not defraud, HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER.'" 20And he said to Him, "Teacher, I have kept all these things from my youth up." 21Looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him and said to him, "One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me." 22But at these words he was saddened, and he went away grieving, for he was one who owned much property. 23And Jesus, looking around, said to His disciples, "How hard it will be for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God!" 24The disciples were amazed at His words. But Jesus answered again and said to them, "Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! 25"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." 26They were even more astonished and said to Him, "Then who can be saved?" 27Looking at them, Jesus said, "With people it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God."
Ok so imagine you are just watching from a distance, what's going through your head as this interaction takes place. I guess the disciples are pretty impressed at first: they see this dude get on his knees and asks 'how can i get in heaven?" What an open door right? What humility, what readiness for salvation right? WRONG!! Let all ministers pay close attention to what it 'looks' like when someone is serious about the gospel. A characteristic of the doctrinally sound evangelists throughout history is that they were fruit searchers, soul doctors indeed. How would this have been approached in our day, in the majority of churches and by the majority of Christians "well brother just pray this prayer after me, and PRESTO you're in! C-YA". Not Jesus though, He sees a lot deeper then we do, this great God discerns the thoughts and intents of the heart. Consider again, right in front of EVERYBODY, in the dirt, a rich man kneels before Jesus, seeking 'heaven' (how deceiving and worthless are ALL attempts of worship apart from salvation) I often tell people, don't waste time praying to God if you think you can pull one over on Him; you'll be speaking to a dial tone.
What about the 'no one is good..." reply, Well Jesus is challenging this man's understanding of good (by who's standard, by what comparison) and it seems He leaves it hanging, but that's not how it is, Jesus explains this statement throughout the whole interaction.
So Jesus uses the law, the law that was put there to reveal our sins, to condemn us, to point us to Christ. How? By such a standard, that would leave all men hopeless that ever tried to keep it. The law rightly applied shatters all hope of saving yourself, thus you NEED a SAVIOR.
The young man hears the law, specifically that which deals with man (perhaps not exclusively important), yet the young man, apparently suffering a severe case of amnesia replies "yep, got all that down since i was young" it was like he was saying "psssst that's it? then i'm definitely in, i guess that's what i was expecting to hear" but Jesus loved him (you know that hard love better termed; TRUTH) and was like "ok dude, so you think you're flawless and selfless, then ok give it all up, give up NOW all your vain treasures for the real treasure, ME!" i can just imagine the rich young ruler scanning the young disciples and thinking, "so you want me to give prestige, power, fame, influence, the ladies, my Versace suits to live and look like beach bum, no dice pal!" Yet there's more than a shrug off, there's more than just an adamant refusal. The young man, comes to a terrifying reality, the god he serves is NOT Yahweh, it's himself and what's worse is that now he knows that compared to Christ, compared to eternal life, he'd much rather have himself. So he leaves 'sorrowful': he leaves with the sorrow of the world, the sorrow which all men will one day regret. Yet there's a sorrow that leads to repentance, a sorrow that is produced by the Holy Spirit as it convinces you of your hopelessness and the immensity of your crimes against God alone and the hell you deserve, while at the same time Christ is in full view, Christ's sacrifice intensifies this sorrow and moves you to throw yourself upon His grace (and grace you will receive). What a fool, trading the eternal for the temporal, trading something men use to attain joy,hope, and peace for the embodiment of Joy, Hope, and Peace.
This man serves as fearful reminder that many are truly sorry, sorry that they much rather love their sins; hell will be full of sorry people. Perhaps he shed tears, yet he walked away!
What doesn't Jesus do? Jesus doesn't run after him saying "alright how about just accept me as savior now and then you can make the Lord decision later?, Wait, Wait, how about if i tell you how i can heal you, help you have a nice family, i'm really funny you know, like football? we got big screens for the super bowl" No NO NO. Jesus knew immediately that this man came with false motives and He exposed them.
Jesus remarks how impossible it is for the rich to enter heaven (was this like saying He didn't come for the righteous? Is this a way of saying those who think they have no need? those opposite to the 'poor in spirit'?-perhaps). Were the disciples blond? :) They respond "dude, like, rich man no pearly gates then everyone else is a total goner, bummer!" (perhaps they were reading Kenneth Copeland or Big Jakes thinking that '$uce$$ is a given to the truly blessed'-- they would have told him to pray a prayer and buy them an extra jet-airplane)
Jesus remarks 'it's IMPOSSIBLE for people, but for God all things are possible' ---I always heard that quoted for prayer, as if that's what He was talking about. Nope! In reference to what? The subject of the conversation; ETERNAL LIFE! Man is TOTALLY depraved, he can do NOTHING to gain God's favor it must be grace. Salvation is no jumpstart, not a boost, not therapy, not a crutch , it's a SUPERNATURAL work of GOD, A CREATIVE act of God, a DIVINE transformation, it's a BIRTH of something not there, this work of God: this regeneration, this conversion, this salvation is a work which God alone accomplishes and God alone carries out to the end. Repent and believe the gospel! Turn from your wicked ways and thoughts and turn to God. Do you see your wickedness, your rightful place in hell, your absolute fault (no excuses), and now can you see Christ, can you see that He alone can save, Can you see that He alone can forgive you and make you right before God, because He was punished for your sins under the full wrath of God, making it possible to forgive the wicked? Then look to Jesus, cry out for mercy OR will you also shrug your shoulders, or drop your head in shame still intent (stubbornly) on living for self and this world?

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