Archive for June, 2017
“And looking at them Jesus said to them, ‘With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible’” (Matthew 19:26).
Hearing the demands set before the rich young ruler and the expectations of the law, one is left wondering, like the disciples, if salvation is even possible (v.25). That’s the very point Jesus is making. The demands of God’s word make us keenly aware of our need for a Savior. Apart from him there is no life. The cross of Jesus says that God has accomplished for us what we could have never achieved for ourselves.
“Jesus said to him, ‘If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me’” (Matthew 19:21).
Don’t miss the healthy tension this verse creates. I don’t want to so particularize Jesus’ words as something pertinent for this man alone, that I miss out on what it can mean for me. I am no less vulnerable to the clenching vises of greed and covetousness than this man. Thus, the hypnotic intoxication of investment is broken by the divesting call of “follow Me.” In daily so doing, we discover the only true investment.
“Then he said to Him, ‘Which ones?’ And Jesus said, ‘You shall not commit murder; you shall not steal; your shall not bear false witness; honor your father and mother; and you shall love your neighbor as yourself’” (Matthew 19:18-19).
It’s telling that Jesus would focus this inquiring young man’s attention to the second table of the law; those dealing with human relationships. While anyone can offer a subjective confession to the primacy of God, emphasized in the first table of the law, it is our dealings with real people that bear the more objective evidence of how our faith is being borne out. It is this neighbor love that speaks the real “God story” of our lives.
“Then he said to Him, ‘Which ones?’” (Matthew 19:18).
As believers, saved by grace through faith, do not find off-putting Jesus’ instructions to the rich young ruler to keep the commandments (v.17) if he wishes to enter into life. While the law made us keenly aware of the need for a Savior, the heart of faith desires nonetheless to honor the teachings of God’s word. Of greater alarm is the question of the young man and his desire to settle for the least common denominator. It’s not unlike the student asking, “Is this going to be on the test?” To live under the banner of Christ’ Lordship is to set the bar to a place of greatest heights in all things, not some things.
“And He said to him, ‘Why are asking Me about what is good? There is only One who is good; but if you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments’” (Matthew 19:17).
To the question of the rich young ruler, “What good thing shall I do that I may obtain eternal life? (v.16),” Jesus offers a significant corrective understanding. First, he speaks of life rather than eternal life because the only true life is eternal life. Apart from this true life is only death. Secondly, rather than just another thing to be obtained and added to our possessions, this life is something to be entered into. It is a road to be traveled; not a commodity to be purchased. Because God alone is good, the pursuit of our life becomes that which is pleasing to him.
“Therefore take away the talent from him, and give it to the one who has the ten talents. For to everyone who has, more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away” (Matthew 25:28-29).
Countless opportunities present themselves each day to be the presence of Christ; each one unique and never to be again. We often excuse our inaction by rationalizing that we will wait for another time; a more appropriate time, only to discover this was the only time we had. Our Father isn’t interested in what we might do if given certain opportunities, but what we do with the specific opportunities that cross our path each day. We worry much about doing the right thing only to discover that doing nothing is the greater indictment.
“Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you? She said, ‘No one, Lord.’ And Jesus said, ‘I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on sin no more’” (John 8:10-11).
Confronted by the egregious sin of others, we can respond like Moses and condemn the sinner to punishment. We can do as the Pharisees—exposing the sinner; to embarrass them publicly. Or, we can respond as did Jesus; with compassion, consistency; candidness. His mercy is seen in addressing the accused as “woman;” the same term of respect used in addressing his own mother. The consistency of his forgiveness is found here and throughout the gospels. His candidness is seen in the charge to sin no more. He called it what it was and moved on. So should you.