Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Rule, not the Exception

Many of you have heard the story of the Rich Young Ruler. The story is found in three of the four Gospels. (Mark 10:17-25; Luke 18:18-25; Matt 19:16-24). I believe if it is told once it’s important, if it is told three times, it’s critical that we pay attention to the story.

Here is how it goes. We’ll use the story out of Mark 10:

The Rich Young Ruler

As He (Jesus) was setting out on a journey, a man ran up, knelt down before Him, and asked Him, "Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?"

"Why do you call Me good?" Jesus asked him. "No one is good but One-God.

You know the commandments: Do not murder; do not commit adultery; do not steal; do not bear false witness; do not defraud; honor your father and mother."

He said to Him, "Teacher, I have kept all these from my youth."

Then, looking at him, Jesus loved him and said to him, "You lack one thing: Go, sell all you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow Me." But he was stunned at this demand, and he went away grieving, because he had many possessions.

Jesus looked around and said to His disciples, "How hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!" But the disciples were astonished at His words. Again Jesus said to them, "Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God."

So they were even more astonished, saying to one another, "Then who can be saved?"

Looking at them, Jesus said, "With men it is impossible, but not with God, because all things are possible with God."

Some will say that Jesus says this because the man was very unique and that he was looking to the law, trying to earn his salvation. Some will say that the idea of the man being told to give up everything he had to follow Jesus was the exception, not the rule.

I doubt that is the main reason for this passage. I believe, these verses are not about the exception but the rule. Let’s look again at the passage and find FIVE RULES that Jesus emphasizes

  1. LIVE A MORAL LIFE – Jesus said, “You know the commandments: Do not commit adultery; do not murder; do not steal; do not bear false witness; honor your father and mother." It is the moral code that provides the guidelines for ourselves, our families and our society. This has been the foundation of the Jewish and Christian communities; these are those guidelines that have been given to us by our Creator.

    These moral guidelines are also the bedrock of this nation. John Adams said, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

  2. JESUS LOVES US! We are His creation. He loves us unconditionally. At this time every good religious Jew was trying to earn salvation by works. Jesus points out this very clearly with Nicodemus. You need to be born again, a new work via the Holy Spirit.

  3. FORESAKE ALL ELSE: giving to the poor, giving up everything to follow Jesus, having treasure in heaven is the rule….Jesus mentions these often:

    "If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters -- yes, even his own life -- he cannot be my disciple. And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple" (Luke 14:26-27).

    "In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple." (Luke 14:33)

    "The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it" (Matthew 13:44-46).

    "For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it" (Luke 9:24).

    "Whoever tries to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it" (Luke 17:33)

  4. Jesus say’s FOLLOW ME: This is not an empty challenge but the opportunity for a great reward. Jesus had said it earlier to some fisherman: “As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me," Jesus said, "and I will send you out to fish for people." At once they left their nets and followed him. Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets. Jesus called them, and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him. (Matthew 4:18-22)

  5. Finally…ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE WITH GOD. Jesus was challenged by His disciples.Jesus had made the comparison of a camel going through the eye of a needle to a rich man entering the Kingdom of God, and the disciples wanted to know then who could be saved? Jesus assures them however that with God, all things are possible. Jesus would soon be entering Jerusalem to pay a price that He didn’t owe, to pay a debt that we couldn’t pay. All things are possible with God.

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