You might have observed friends or coworkers this week with an ashen cross on their forehead. Ash is the sign of death that is death to sin and to the world lent is an old Christians tradition of 40 days of repentance and fasting and devoting oneself to God leading up to Easter. It is also a time of giving something up, maybe sweets for some or television for others. The idea of giving something up in order to follow God is not only limited to a 40-day window. Often Jesus calls us to give up things that may, in the long run, harmful to us or may hinder our walk with God. Such was the case in our text Today in
- Humans by nature are broken and fallen from our original intended purpose. – This belief is central to the Christian faith. For one doing good deeds assumes that people are by nature good which according to the scriptures we are not. We are by nature broken and rebellious we are descended from ancestors who literally made a deal with the devil by believing that our creators’ intentions for us were not good and that we could be our own gods. Through this rebellion, our planet and its population have been subjected to a curse and we are observing the results of this curse today.
But he begins his questions by first addressing Jesus as Good teacher. Jesus then says why do you call me good. The Jews knew that according to Isaiah our own self-righteous works are like filthy rags to God. There nothing we can do to impress him.
- The 10 commandments and the Old Testament law reveal our sin but do not save us. – when Jesus said “you know the law” he was not saying that is how to inherit eternal life. We know that according to Romans the law was merely a means to show us our utter depravity and needs for a savior.
- The biggest stumbling block to inheriting eternal life- is the idea that there is some grand gesture or level of goodness that we can attain and that God will have to let us into heaven. And so this man response, Of Course, These are things I have followed since a child”
- What he really wanted to know was what grand gesture he could offer to get into heaven. For some people they think it’s saving the planet from climate change, others become social justice warriors and think taking from the rich and redistributing to the poor will even things out. and many others will do all kinds of good deeds. But what does is matter if you still have a rebellious heart towards God.
- Being given a list of good things to accomplish is far more appealing to the sinner who desires to keep his autonomy that the idea of completes surrender of one life, will and direction to a holy God.
- Letting Go- Jesus said to do this one thing “sell everything give it to the poor and follow him” and he walked away sad. Why? Because everything his whole identity was tied up in his wealth.
- Wealth is a relative term. The reality is that most of us here today when compared to the rest of the world, would fit into that category. How. The American making an average salary of 32,000 a year would be in the top 1% earners in the world. So when the American point their fingers at our top 1% of the united state’s earners the other 99% of the population of the world is looking at us oh yeah well you are the 1% to us.
- A camel and a needle- jesus was using a funny illustration to make a point- Wealth was considered a sign of God’s blessing but Jesus was challenging this. Sometimes it can be a hindrance. This is why the disciples wondered “who could be saved” if not the rich. Just because your well of doesn’t assume its God’s blessing. And just because your going through hard times don’t assume God isn’t with you.
- It’s not about riches or possession per se but about covetousness and greed and all the bad things that money can influence us to do. It takes a person of character to manage wealth in a godly and appropriate way but most cannot and we hear story after story about those who have fallen or become corrupted or sold out for money.
- It’s about idolatry and identity -It’s about more than just money-this man’s true god was his money but if we think this passage is only for those who have wealth we have missed the point. You not off the hook.
Jesus challenged others differently
- To a lawyer in Luke 10 who asked him the same question “what must I do to inherit eternal life” he indicated he should love God and love his neighbor” the man asks who is my neighbor revealing that this man’s problem was his pride and prejudice.
- Jesus challenges a woman in John chapter 4 who wanted the rivers of living water, basically eternal life. What did she need to do? Jesus said bring me your husband she says I am not married to which he replies truly you have been married 5 times and the man you are with now you are not married to. Her problem was giving up a relationship which was in opposition to Gods will.
- Whatever has a hold on you is your god or idol and whatever you consider makes you who you are is your identity. For this man, it was his wealth. For others, it may be their possessions. Or even their work and yet others it may be sports. what is taking you away from time with God and God’s people? What is your idol?
You need two hands to pick up your cross and follow Jesus- the problem is that too many Christians have one hand on God and the other hand on something else that they are trusting in, something else that is taking up their time, something else is on their minds all the time, something they may not be willing to give up.
Store your treasure in heaven- Jesus promises those who had given up everything in this world lands, family to follow him would receive it back a hundred-fold in this life with persecutions and then in eternity
Family a hundred-fold is the church. Look around you. So many Christians don’t even realize the treasure that they have is sitting right next to them. We who share the spirit of a holy God have an opportunity to make family right here. Our western view of the church as an institution rather than a family holds us back from truly, I believe, enjoying this experience.