TODAY’S BIBLE READING:
BIBLE VERSE(S) FOR TODAY:
Psalm 24:1 “The earth is the LORD’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein,”
REFLECTIONS ON TODAY’S BIBLE VERSE(S):
Imagine that someone came to you today and said: “What do I need to do to get to Heaven?” If you are a Christian, that would be exciting! People rarely come right out and ask such a question but if they did, we would assume that they are ready to ask Jesus into their life.
Right? Not necessarily.
In our time in God’s Word today, we read where someone came to Jesus and asked that very question:
“Someone came to Jesus with this question: ‘Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” (Matthew 19:16)
Well, we would expect that Jesus would go right into the Gospel: “Say this pray and the deal is done.”
Such a thing happens all too often in contemporary Christianity. Yet, it never happened in Scripture – not once. Nowhere was someone told to simply say a prayer to be saved. Instead, they were told to repent, believe, and then demonstrate a changed life the rest of their days.
So, what did Jesus say to this guy who was asking how to get to Heaven? He didn’t take him to the good news of the Gospel. Instead, He took him to the Old Testament law – specifically the 10 Commandments.
Jesus observed that the guy was a little too loose in his use of the word “good.” He called Jesus “good” (Matthew 19:16) even though he had no idea that Jesus was God in the flesh. He simply thought too highly of other people. He didn’t realize that everyone was a guilty sinner before a holy God.
Further, he thought to highly of himself. When Jesus treated the 10 Commandments as a mirror desiring to show the guy that he was a sinner in need of a Savior, he responded by saying that he was pretty good.
“‘I’ve obeyed all these commandments,’ the young man replied. ‘What else must I do?'” (Matthew 19:20)
Good grief! The guy was saturated with self-righteousness. He had asked Jesus how to get to Heaven but he apparently thought he was more than good enough to get there on his own merits.
The irony is that before we can be saved and made righteous, we must recognize our utter sinfulness. Before we can reach out to a Savior, we must realize that we are in desperate need of saving. Before we are prepared to reach out for a cure, we must realize that we are horribly sick. Before we can go up in forgiveness and joy, we must go down in conviction and repentance.
So, because Jesus loved him, He nailed him. Jesus knew that this man needed to recognize that he desperately needed to see himself as a sinner before he could reach out for a Savior. The guy’s wealth was his god – He was breaking the very first commandment. He needed to be confronted with this sin and his sinfulness so that his heart could receive the Good News.
“Jesus told him, ‘If you want to be perfect, go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.'” (Matthew 19:21)
If Jesus had balled up his fist and hit the guy right in the nose, He couldn’t have startled him anymore than this. The rich young ruler was delighting in his opportunity to demonstrate his self-righteousness before Jesus and the onlookers but Jesus had just asked him to do something he was incapable of doing. His money was too valuable to him. As much as he wanted to go to Heaven, he would not give up his money to get there.
Jesus could have said, “Your money is your god” and this man would have denied it. But, in telling this man to release his grip on his wealth by giving it away, this young man’s response clearly demonstrated the point for all to see.
So, what happened?
“But when the young man heard this, he went away sad, for he had many possessions.” (Matthew 19:22)
He went away without Heaven. He went away without the Gospel. He went away without forgiveness and without being saved. He went away defeated and sad.
But, this could have been a very, very good thing! He had been confronted with the law. His heart was exposed. He had seen that he loved the temporal much more than the eternal. Over time, he may have grown so displeased at what he had seen. He wasn’t as righteous as he thought he was. He was a sinner in need of a Savior.
It is quite possible that his confrontation with the law brought about conviction in his heart. It is quite possible that after his sinful heart was exposed that he may have come back to Jesus at a later time to be saved – not as a righteous man but as a guilty sinner in need of a Savior. At that point, he would have been ready to receive what Jesus desired to give him.
Just a thought:
This man was unnamed. We don’t know who he was. But wouldn’t it be a wonderful story if we get to Heaven and realize that this unnamed rich young ruler was Joseph of Arimathea, a rich man (Matthew 27:57), who took Jesus body and buried it in his own cave only for it to be vacated 3 days later? We’ll just have to wait and see.