The Rich Young Ruler
18 A ruler questioned Him, saying, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 19 And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone. 20 You know the commandments, ‘Do not commit adultery, Do not murder, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother.’” 21 And he said, “All these things I have kept from my youth.” 22 When Jesus heard this, He said to him, “One thing you still lack; sell all that you possess and distribute it to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” 23 But when he had heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely rich. 24 And Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God! 25 For 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.” 26 They who heard it said, “Then who can be saved?” 27 But He said, “The things that are impossible with people are possible with God.”
I have always felt kind of bad for the rich young ruler. Here he thinks he's doing so well, following the commandments, and he has great treasure on earth that he isn't really willing to give up, even for eternal life, or treasure in Heaven.
That's not a difficult thing to understand, is it? Our vices may not necessarily be financial wealth, or houses, or cars, or what-have-you, but I would be willing to bet that everybody has something here in this world that he or she would be loathe to give up, even for eternal life. We become very wrapped up in and attached to our mortal life. I'm positive that we are meant to enjoy and make the most of the time we get here, and equally positive that we are supposed to be giving more value to the eternal rather than the temporal -- storing our treasure in Heaven, "for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" (Matthew 6:21).
Mark Driscoll says this:
So let’s talk a little bit about idolatry. Idolatry is often a good thing that becomes a god thing. Idolatry is usually a good thing in a bad place. It goes from something that the Lord gives to functioning as a substitute lord. It becomes the most person, thing, experience, possession, achievement, accomplishment that we have in our whole life. It becomes central, preeminent, paramount. And here’s the truth—we all worship, all the time. Everyone is made as a worshiper. We all worship unceasingly continually. We’re pouring ourselves out to someone or something that is essential, central, preeminent, prominent to us. Usually a good thing. And worship acts are sacrifices. We sacrifice our time, we sacrifice our health, we sacrifice our money. We say no to some things because we idolize one thing. And here’s the truth about idols: they lie. They promise something that only the kingdom of God can ultimately provide. That’s where Jesus transitions the discussion here to the kingdom of God. He’s saying, “If you give up your idols, I promise you what you’re seeking will only ultimately be satisfied in the kingdom.”
It is so hard to focus on the eternal when the tasks and duties and goals and responsibilities and priorities of every single day here on Earth demand our attention. It helps me to try and remember "good" reasons for what I'm doing. Am I doing _______ because someone will compliment me or think I'm doing something good, or because it is what God wants me to do? Why am I working towards Goal X? Is it for status, or popularity, or for the world's definition of success, or is it for God's definition of success? Am I caring for my family simply for their sake, or mine, or also because they were given to me by God, and entrusted to my care and teaching? It's not easy and I am by no means even good at it, but it helps me to be less envious of those who have what we have not, and it helps me to appreciate what I have been blessed with more.
I enjoyed the way Mark Driscoll closed that sermon - talking about Jesus having a sense of humour.
So I want you to see Jesus—now I got to be careful with this, very careful. I need to get my camel through my needle. He’s kind of like Stephen Colbert or Jon Stewart. Do they tell the news, yes or no? Yes. Do they tell us about what’s going on in the world? Yes. Do they have a very serious point? Yes. Is it hilarious? Pretty much. Are they witty? Totally. When really serious guys in suits show up and sit down, is it gonna be fantastic? Yes. And some of you have struggled, thinking, “Why do I want to go to heaven and spend forever with Jesus?” Imagine if Colbert called. “So you know, I’m passing through Seattle. And I happen to have a lunch meeting with a Kennedy at a Taco Bell.” All right, just think of the most awesome thing ever. “And I’d like you to come.” Would you go? Yeah, you’d be there early. You’d eat your chalupa in advance just to ensure you didn’t miss any of the banter and dialog. “This is gonna be so fun. He’s gonna say something, do something very funny, hilarious, crazy.” Jon Stewart, same thing. Right, if Jon Stewart called and said, “You know, Rush Limbaugh and I,” ‘Cause I’m trying to think of something ridiculous, right? “Rush Limbaugh and I, we’re gonna be talking about Jesus and the poor and politics. And we’re gonna be doing it at a McDonald’s and we can only have a certain number of people. And we were wondering if you would like to join us and be part of the cast?” You would say, “Oh, I’m McHappy. Yes, I would love to.” Why? Because those men, they’re witty, they’re smart, they’re engaging. I think Colbert says he loves Jesus. Jon Stewart, pray for him. But at the end of the day, the way they tell the news and the way they interact with people and the way they interview their guests and the way they’re compelling and witty and funny and insightful and clever and—you’re never sure exactly how they’re gonna say it or where it’s gonna go.
Jesus was and is like that. Perfectly, sinlessly, but like that. That’s why crowds come around. You sort of get the picture. He sits down and then he sits the Pharisees and lawyers down, “Why don’t you guys sit on my couch? Ha, ha!” You’re like, “Oh, this is gonna be fantastic. This is gonna be hilarious.” And they walk away going, “That was not funny. That was not funny.” Friends, there are only two choices. We laugh at ourselves or God laughs at us. God laughs at us if we take ourselves too seriously. If we laugh at ourselves, we get to laugh with God. Idolaters should laugh. “Right, yeah, what am I thinking?” So then the question is asked, “Well, who could possibly be saved if we’re all idolaters who take ourselves too seriously?” And Jesus says, “What is impossible with men is possible with God.” Jesus says, “Have a good, deep, hearty laugh at your silly idols because I do the impossible. I get camels through eyes of needles. I get people,” —like us, you and me— “into heaven.” Jesus does that. He goes to the cross to pay for sin. He rises to give new life. The one thing the rich, young ruler could not obtain, eternal life, forgiveness of sins, Jesus gives as a generous gift. And he invites us to get rid of our idols and have a good laugh, amen? Good news. 2 Corinthians 9:7 says as a result we could be what kind of giver? Cheerful. Jesus makes that possible.
Happy Thursday, folks!