"Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed."

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Matthew 19:16-30 -- Choosing Riches Over Eternal Life; the Value of Serving

 16 Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”
   17 “Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.”
 18 “Which ones?” he inquired.
   Jesus replied, “‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, 19 honor your father and mother,’ and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’”
 20 “All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?”
 21 Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
 22 When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth. 

Why do you think this young man was willing to give up eternal life for the sake of money? Do you think Jesus asked too much of him?  Why did Jesus give him this particular command in order to "be perfect"? It seems the man was moral, upright and kept all the commandments, yet his money was his god.  He would rather hold onto his earthly possessions than "have treasure in heaven" and follow Jesus.  The young man wanted eternal life, but he wanted his possessions more. 

 23 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I tell you, 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.”
 25 When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, “Who then can be saved?”

I recall reading that Jews thought a sign of God's blessing was material wealth, prosperity and such.  Remember when all those bad things happened to Job his friends asked what great sin he had done in order for God to treat him this way.  No wonder the disciples were shocked! If a rich person (one they thought was living right, therefore, God was blessing) was so difficult to get into the kingdom, what hope had those of little means?

 26 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
 27 Peter answered him, “We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?”
 28 Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.

Unlike the rich young man who kept all his earthly possessions in exchange for eternal life, Jesus promises bountiful blessings to those who follow him. 

30 But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.

Remember in God's kingdom, the greatest is the one who serves others.  Anyone can lord over others and demand people give him rights and privileges.  But God resists the proud.  Jesus stated in Mark 10:45

"For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many."

Any thoughts, questions or comments?


observant observer said...

I love reading your blog especially when now I can read again the gospel of the Lord with your take on it, which of course I also share.

I think the 10 commandments only cover the basic necessities of being good, but according to me the basic "obedience, trust and faith" is not challenged much when you have everything to cherish with your life. Following God according to Jesus is putting the trust and faith only to God, not to possession, fame, strength, health etc and it is very difficult (remember Job)and be free of all the bonding of the world can offer and rely solely on God's grace and sustenance to share His love with other.

I suggest you read the story of Maria Simma (you can google it), a woman witnessing the life hereafter. Very interesting that it answers a lot of questions. It very much resonates with what you have offer here.

I have read that and I become more joyful in following the Lord. Indeed Jesus is truly the Son of God who had shown the way. At the end of the day,one of the most important thing is the words of Jesus: do not be afraid. And then after that: be everything that is possible to glorify the Lord. Everything is under God's order. The hardship that people endure, the difficulties, the sacrifice, when taken humbly and be united with the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, will all have the benefit for the soul.

Just my thought.

Susanne said...

Observant Observer, I enjoyed your comment! Thanks for introducing me to Maria Simma. She seems like such a unique lady! :)

Great point about our trust being only in GOD and not in all those other things.Thank you for what you added! I'm glad you enjoy these kinds of posts. I really am thankful for your feedback on them. :)

Lat said...

Enjoyed this post!

To what I think,God's blessings can be two-fold.It's how we manage/deal with them that gives us the opportunity to enjoy the pleasure that God has placed in it.

“Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven"

This is quite similar to the hadith that says majority of dwellers in heaven are the poor(whether meant metaphorically or literally)

Susanne said...

Lat, such a wise comment - thank you! Yes, I know there are some rich people who know their need for God. I think the metaphorical meaning you mentioned makes sense. :)