Saturday, 28 September 2013

Matthew 19:16-30 - The rich man

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Read Matthew 19:16-30. Notice carefully how Jesus deals with this young man. How would I have dealt with him? How would you deal with him? What can we learn about Jesus from this? What do we need to change in our own thinking?

Jesus has just left the place where he blessed the little children and right after that a man comes to ask him a question. Like many people in our own day, this man thinks he needs to do something good in order to receive eternal life as a fair exchange. Of course, it doesn't work quite that way, we don't, and indeed can't, earn eternal life. Given our sinful nature there is nothing we can offer in fair exchange. Eternal life is a gift offered to us through grace.

So Jesus doesn't say, "You need to do this, or go there, or do that". Instead he says, "You need to keep the commandments". No doubt the man wants to know which ones, as if he thinks some of them may not matter. Are we like that? And when we speak with people we meet and they express an interest in Jesus, are they like that too? Aren't we all prone to pick and choose which rules to obey and which to ignore? Have you been guilty of murder or fraud or arson? Probably not. Have you ever exceeded a speed limit? Hmm...

But we can't do that with the commandments. They are law, but they are the law of Yahweh, the Almighty. We can't just push the boundaries a little and expect him not to notice!

So Jesus gives him what he wants, he provides a short list. He tells the man not to break some fundamental commands. And the man assures him that he has not. He must think, "I'm in!" I imagine him mentally punching the air at this point. "Yes!" But maybe he sees something in Jesus' face, and he asks, "What am I still missing?"

And then Jesus picks the one thing he is not willing to let go of, the one that will prevent him from following. What things prevent me from following Jesus fully? And how about you? Are there things too precious for us to give up?

Jesus explains to the disciples that hope still remains because all things are possible for Elohim. Once again it's the poor in spirit who will inherit life. Those who put themselves last will be in the forefront. But those with money (like the rich man), power and spiritual strength will be last in because they have so much to lose.

Why must we lose everything in order to find Jesus? Because we must come to the point of realising that he is worth much more than everything else we have. Until we see this and understand it clearly, we won't even be willing to follow him.

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