Sunday sermon 14 October – What will you leave for Jesus?

Readings:     Hebrews 4:12-16;  Mark 10: 17-31

Message: “What will you leave for Jesus?”

Heb 4:12  For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

Heb 4:13  Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

Heb 4:14  Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess.

Heb 4:15  For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin.

Heb 4:16  Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Mar 10:17  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?”

Mar 10:18  “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone.

Mar 10:19  You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, do not defraud, honor your father and mother.'”

Mar 10:20  “Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.”

Mar 10:21  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.”

Mar 10:22  At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.

Mar 10:23  Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!”

Mar 10:24  The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God!

Mar 10:25  It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”

Mar 10:26  The disciples were even more amazed, and said to each other, “Who then can be saved?”

Mar 10:27  Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.”

Mar 10:28  Peter said to him, “We have left everything to follow you!”

Mar 10:29  “I tell you the truth,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel

Mar 10:30  will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age (homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—and with them, persecutions) and in the age to come, eternal life.

Mar 10:31  But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”

 Message:

Billy Graham once said: ‘The test of a preacher is that his congregation goes away saying, not, “What a lovely sermon!” but “I will do something.”

I’ve been thinking about all the sermons that I’ve preached.

Sitting in that little church in Ebenezer in the Hawkesbury, Sydney  – over 200 years old – made me think about the many sermons that have been preached around the world for centuries, never mind decades.

What did people do in response to most of them? Nothing!

I console myself with the fact that sermons do feed people’s faith each week. It reminds me of the man who complained about the preaching – that he never really remembered what was said. The preacher responded – how many meals did your mum cook for you as a child? “Oh hundreds”, he replied.  “Do you remember what they all were?” he asked. “No” said the man. “I’m sure they fed you” said the pastor.

That of course is a consolation for preachers.

In some churches people are too busy criticizing than actually opening their hearts to the Word of God.

Today’s readings are contradictory in this regard.

The Word of God is “living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” says the writer to the Hebrews.

But the word of Jesus to the rich young ruler wasn’t. Even the words of Jesus could not penetrate his heart.

Oh yes he understood – it penetrated his understanding.

But it did not have the effect it could have.

The man turned away. He went away sad, we are told. Had he been Scrooge McDuck, like the kids’ cartoons years ago – he might have been happier. Although I suspect all the Scrooges on screen are really not happy.

Two questions today.

  1. Why did he turn away?
  2. Are we like him?

 

WHY DID HE TURN AWAY?

To quote Jesus:  “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”

 

Interesting image. People speculate about it. It is said that Jesus could have been referring to a very low gate in a city though which camels could not pass without unloading their cargo. There is no evidence of this kind of gate in Jesus’ time.

Another suggestion is that the word “camel” (kamelos) can also be translated as “rope” (kamilos). Fair enough – still an impossible situation, threading a rope through the eye of a needle, but an unlikely meaning as there is no textual evidence of this.

It’s much simpler: This guy loved his stuff too much. The overwhelming sense in Scripture is that money is an issue! For example:

1Ti_6:10  For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

Heb_13:5  Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”

And best of all:

Mat_6:24  “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.”

To this man’s credit, he does not seem to be trying to trick Jesus like some of the others.  Verse 21 indicates that he was probably genuine. Listen again:

Mar 10:21  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.”

Good intentions, but a bad outcome. He turned away, sadly. And then the second question:

ARE WE LIKE HIM?

That’s a silly question really. Although – maybe yes maybe no. And in different ways.

I think we are all like him in this sense – that we all have something that we notch up as our achievement or self-justification. It’s the false economy of human achievements!

This man kept the commandments! He certainly knew them.

We battle to recite the 10 commandments these days!

What is his claim to fame? In verse 20 we read:  “Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.”

You can be around for years – you can start your religious journey as a child – and claim this as your pedigree – and yet it can count for nothing.

We are like him!

Now as we begin to sweat it out and think – o dear am I in trouble? – we can be relieved to know that WE ARE NOT LIKE HIM in this sense.

For many of us great wealth is hardly a problem that haunts us or distracts us.

Ding. The bell rings and we are counted out. Wrong again.

“One thing you lack,” he said. (v21) most probably applies to us in some way or another.

There is always something that stands in the way really.

If it’s not wealth, it’s status or our view of our status. Or our culture – we assume that what we have and what we are is better than others. Or we hold onto it too tightly, never suspecting that the Lord is probably calling us to let it go and trust him.

Don’t forget that the discussion ends with the great leveller – this unnerving statement by Jesus:

Mar 10:31  “But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”

Much to our relief – towards the end of this passage we read verses 26 and 27

Mar 10:26  The disciples were even more amazed, and said to each other, “Who then can be saved?”  Mar 10:27  Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.”

All things are possible with God through grace and faith.

Our salvation certainly doesn’t depend on our bank balance or our achievements. And there is no special salvation for people because they are poor per se. They probably have little to lose in one sense – perhaps they can throw caution to the wind and follow Jesus?

As long as you truly follow Jesus. Are you? And what will you leave for Jesus?

Amen.

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About robinpalmer

I am a Presbyterian Pastor living and working in Browns Bay on the North Shore of Auckland in New Zealand. We moved here at the end of March 2011 after spending five years in Wellington the capital city. I am passionate about what I do - about communicating and writing. I also enjoy my counselling work, especially with young people.

Posted on October 13, 2012, in Sunday Morning Sermons. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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