Treasure your place in the Kingdom of God Jesus has given you!

October 14, 2018

Pastor Gunnar Ledermann

17 As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

18 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. 19 You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud, honor your father and mother.’”

20 “Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.”

21 Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

22 At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.

23 Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!”

24 The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again, “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 someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

26 The disciples were even more amazed, and said to each other, “Who then can be saved?”

27 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.”

Mark 10:17-27

Hurricane Michael wasn’t supposed to be a major threat as far as forecasters could tell earlier last week. Hurricane Michael was going to bring more rain and stronger winds than normal, but it wasn’t going to be a name that stuck in people’s minds like Katrina, Sandy or Harvey. That all changed when the storm began to pick up in intensity and by Wednesday, it was a category 4 with wind speeds topping out at 155 mph. The storm was the worst in decades for much of Florida’s coast and another blow to many in the South East still putting their lives together after hurricane Florence. Many who were in the path of the hurricane were able to prepare for the storm or leave, but for some who stayed, their desire to remain with their earthly belongings proved fatal. In our gospel lesson from Mark 10, we are reminded to Treasure your place in the Kingdom of God Jesus has given you!

Our gospel lesson this morning from Mark 10 continues just after the lesson from last Sunday where Jesus revealed the hard hearts of the Pharisees and his own disciples’ lack of understanding of Jesus’ never ending love. After Jesus finished speaking with the crowds, Pharisees, disciples and children, he was ready to move on toward Jerusalem for the last time and give his life on the cross to save our lives. He was just about to leave when one more person came running up to him and asked Jesus a question which summed up his whole purpose for coming into this world,

“Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

The man who had run up to Jesus and fallen at his feet to ask him a question did not understand how important Jesus’ answer would be for him. When the man spoke to Jesus from the ground, he called him the “Good teacher,” it was an odd way of addressing someone. From Luke’s gospel, we know the man was a ruler of a local synagogue and therefore we gather that he wanted to some new insights from Jesus, the travel teacher who taught with authority. The man was right to address Jesus as a teacher, but the addition of the word “good,” wasn’t common and opened the door for Jesus to teach the man what he needed to know about being good enough to inherit eternal life.

Jesus replied to the man,

18 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone.

Jesus wanted the man to begin to understand what it meant to be good with regards to God’s standard, the standard by which all are held in order to be good enough to enter into eternal life in the kingdom of God. Jesus then gave a definition for what it means to be good by listing some of the Ten Commandments…

19 You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud, honor your father and mother.’”

20 “Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.”

Jesus gave the list of commandments in order to show the man how impossible it is to be good. The list was meant to show the man how impossible it is to be good, but the man did not pick up on where Jesus was going with his definition. Instead, he felt like he had fulfilled Jesus’ and, therefore, God’s definition of good. And we might expect Jesus to call him out like the Pharisees for having a hard heart, but Jesus knew the man needed a more specific application of God’s law in order to show the man his lack of good.

21 Jesus looked at him and loved him.

Jesus next words to the man would cut him to the heart, but Jesus said them in order to show him that he could not rely on his own good works.

“One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

22 At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.

23 Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!”

Much like hurricane Michael, the man who ran up to Jesus seemed like a simple thing, but in the end, both left a path of destruction. Again, hurricane Michael was supposed to be a small category 2 or even 1 storm, but it grew into a category 4 decimating the Florida coastline. The man who ran up to Jesus thought he would ask a simple question about eternal life and Jesus would applaud his efforts to keep God’s law. Perhaps he thought Jesus would offer him a few insights about how to keep on the right path and end with a phrase like “keep fighting the good fight” or “wish we had more like you,” but Jesus stopped the man from trusting in himself at all and showed him that trust in his works and wealth were worthless when weighed on God’s scale. Jesus had to show the man that if he continued to cling to his own works and wealth, he would “still lack one thing,” there would be no room in his life for faith in Jesus as his Savior and the only way to enter eternal life. This side of heaven, all of the wealth and works he was carrying around were blocking him from seeing his Savior. And if the man died holding all of those things, he wouldn’t have the free hands of faith to open the door to heaven and instead would be stuck outside of heaven suffering in hell having clung to all the temporary treasures of this world.

We’ve all been in the shoes of the man who came running to Jesus. We all want to know the answer to,

“What must I do to inherit eternal life?”

The simple answer is to believe in Jesus as our Savior, but simple answers are more complicated for us while we still live in this sinful world with our sinful nature. For those of us who believe in Jesus and know what he has done for us, the question we must ask ourselves is

“What am I trying to inherit along with eternal life?”

For the man who ran up to Jesus, his wealth stood in his way of trusting in God. In other words, he had not kept the first commandment, which is to have no other gods. The man had made his wealth his god and there wasn’t room in his heart for the wealth Jesus promised in the kingdom of God.

You and I have the same struggle as the rich man. Your wealth, money, car, home, tech and other treasures may sit on the throne of your heart in place of Jesus. Others of us may struggle with any of the other commands Jesus listed,“You shall not murder,” trying to inherit eternal life along with moments of revenge or winning arguments, “you shall not commit adultery,” eternal life along with momentary pleasures, “you shall not steal,” eternal life along with something that belonged to someone else, “you shall not give false testimony,” eternal life along with a list of lies, “you shall not defraud,”eternal life along with gossip, “honor your father and mother,” eternal life along with a seat above everyone else because you are far superior to those God put in authority over you.

The simple answer to, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” and “What am I trying to inherit along with eternal life?” both are nothing. We cannot do anything to inherit eternal life because we have not kept God’s commandments and there is nothing else that we can take with us along with eternal life.

Jesus knew the answer to both of these questions would be hard for his disciples to understand. Regarding the rich man who went away sad after Jesus’ response,

23 Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!”

The man who came running up to Jesus and revealed himself as a rich man and leader of a synagogue, seemed like a good man, but Jesus revealed his lack of faith.

24 The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again, “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 someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

Jesus’ illustration made it sound like it is impossible for someone to enter the kingdom of God. Their minds raced as they contemplated their many sins of trusting in their own good works or placing some piece of God’s creation higher in their hearts than on God the Creator. As they worried about their salvation, despite having followed Jesus for the last three years, theyMark 10:27

said to each other, “Who then can be saved?” Then, 27 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.”

And, throughout the Bible, God revealed his ability to work the impossible supporting these words of Jesus.

Our first lesson from 2 Kings 5, gives an examples of God working the impossible through the prophet Elisha for a man named Naaman. Naaman was the leader of the army in his country of Aram. He had leprosy and despaired that he would never be healed until his servant girl, an Israelite, told him to go the prophet in Samaria, which was Elisha. Naaman listened to the girl, went to see Elisha and Elisha healed him. It was an impossible dream that Naaman could be cured from his leprosy, but God was able to heal him. The words of Elisha and the power of God not only cleansed the Naaman from his leprosy, but he also confessed,

“Now I know that there is no God in all the world except in Israel.”

There is no other God in all the world that is able to do the impossible. The rich man’s question for Jesus,

“What must I do to inherit eternal life?”

and the disciples’ question,

“Who then can be saved?”

are both answered with Jesus. With Jesus we are able to inherit eternal because he took away our sins and replaced them with his good life. As Paul said in Romans 3,

25 God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith.

By faith, we hold on to Jesus and he gives us the treasure of the kingdom of heaven. We are sure that Jesus has given us heaven and made us his people in by the words of Galatians 4,

4 But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship.

These words assure us that because we are God’s most treasured possession, he sent his Son to keep the law for us and redeem us with his perfect life, allowing us to be God’s adopted sons and daughters by faith. All our sins and the many times we have put God second to the things of this world are forgiven and when doubts creep into our minds that God cannot do the impossible to save sinners and bring us to heaven, we have the words of Hebrews 13,

“Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” 6 So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?”

Hurricane Michael wasn’t supposed to be a major threat. The storm seemed small, but grew to an intensity not seen for decades leaving behind a horrible path of destruction. Many who ask the question,

“What must I do to inherit eternal life,”

have fallen into trusting in themselves and holding on to the things of this world to save them, but they fail to realize their sins and their need for the true goodness of God. Jesus reminded the rich man was lost trusting in himself and lost without Jesus. The good news is that Jesus loved us above all else, leaving behind heaven and coming to this world as one of us to save us through his good and perfect life alone. You lack nothing with the one thing that the rich man lacked. You lack nothing with Jesus. Give thanks to God that you are good in God’s eyes through Jesus and Treasure your place in the Kingdom of God Jesus has given you! Amen.

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