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The Twenty-First Sunday after Pentecost

October 14, 2018 Speaker: Murray Keith Series: Pentecost

Passage: Mark 10:17–10:22

†††In the Name of Jesus†††
Pastor Murray Keith
Text: Mark 10:17-22
Date: October 14th, 2018; Pentecost 21; Series B
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
  • I came across this quote recently that made me chuckle, “all I ask is to have a chance to prove that money can’t buy me happiness!”
  • It’s hard to imagine that I wouldn’t be happy if I had enough money to buy and do anything I want!
  • It’s hard to believe that I wouldn’t have a constant smile on my face as I pulled up to my mansion, in my Rolls Royce, after spending my entire day golfing!    
  • But, I suppose deep down I know that any happiness, contentment, or satisfaction that money can buy is only temporary and is without any real lasting substance.
  • After indulging himself in all that his wealth has to offer, King Solomon came to this conclusion when he declared, “All is vanity.” (Ecclesiastes 1:2)
  • The man we meet in our Gospel lesson for this morning was also struggling with this. 
  • We are told that he had great possessions.
  • But, even though he had worldly wealth - he wasn’t completely content or satisfied.  
  • Something was missing.
  • He recognized that life is short.  
  • He recognized that his high wages couldn’t save him from the wages of sin.
  • It seems this man with great possessions was having an existential crisis.  He was struggling with the deeper questions of life.
  • Word had been spreading about Jesus, about this man who was performing miracles and healings, about this man who was teaching with great wisdom and authority.  
  • Maybe Jesus had some answers to his burning questions. 
  • The man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, "Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?"
  • Can you think of a more important question?  
  • “What must I do to inherit eternal life?" 
  • It’s interesting to note that there is a contradiction in his question.  
  • The contradiction is between the verbs "do” and "inherit."  
  • In order to inherit something, someone must die and they must name you in their will.  
  • So, in order to inherit something - you don't do anything.  It’s something you receive.  It’s a gift.
  • But the man asked the question, "Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?" 
  • Since the man asked what he had to do, Jesus answered accordingly, "You know the commandments: 'Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honour your father and mother.'" 
  • Jesus basically answered, “You know the commandments, do them and eternal life is yours.  Follow the commandments and you will make it to heaven.”
  • And this is true.
  • If you obey God’s Commandments perfectly, if you are without sin - then eternal life is yours.  It’s really that simple.   
  • It’s not surprising that this is what the religions of the world teach - be good, be holy, and you earn your way to heaven.
  • After hearing Jesus’ answer, the man thought he had it made!  He replied, "Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth."  
  • He was convinced that he had done everything necessary, that he was good enough, to inherit eternal life.  
  • The truth of the matter, however, is that this is impossible.  We can’t earn God’s favour and salvation.  We can never be holy and righteous enough.
  • Jesus tries to teach the man this truth by responding the way he did.
  • Jesus, knowing this man’s heart, points out where he has an idol.  
  • His wealth.  His great possessions had become more important than God in his life - and Jesus exposes it.
  • He tells the rich man to sell everything that he had, everything he had worked so hard to build up, all of his great possessions - and give it to the poor.  
  • We are told the man was disheartened.  It’s not easy to give up our idols.  
  • What if Jesus appeared to you today and asked you to give up something?  
  • Every time we sing "A Mighty Fortress is Our God," we sing about giving up our life, our goods, even our children.  Do we mean it? 
  • We too, must admit that we have been guilty of fearing, loving, or trusting in something or someone more than we fear, love, and trust in God.  
  • We too are idolaters.   
  • Jesus told this man what he needed to hear - not what he wanted to hear.  
  • This man who believed he had lived holy enough to earn eternal life needed to learn the truth about the hopelessness of his situation.  
  • He needed to learn that he couldn’t do it on his own, but he needed a Saviour.  
  • He needed to learn that he could not earn an inheritance, but it had to be lovingly given to him.
  • That is how Jesus showed his love to this man - even if it meant that the man would walk away disheartened and sorrowful. 
  • Jesus loves us the same way.  
  • He sends the Holy Spirit to convict us of our sin so that we learn not to rely upon and trust our holiness, but to rely completely on the holiness of Christ Jesus.  
  • Through the Word of God, the Holy Spirit takes us to the cross to show us how Jesus suffered and died as the target of God's wrath against our sin.  
  • The Holy Spirit reveals to us that Jesus did not remain buried in the tomb of death, but rose to eternal life.  
  • The Holy Spirit gives us faith to trust that Jesus’ gift of salvation is personally ours.   
  • So don’t ask the question, "What must I do to inherit eternal life?" 
  • Instead, hear Jesus declare to you, "Look what I have done to give you eternal life." 
  • When we ask, "What must I do …" God says: "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23).
  • Then we hear from God, "The blood of Jesus [God's] Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).  
  • Then we hear, "We are justified by [God's] grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith…We are justified by faith apart from works of the law” (Romans 3:24-25, 28).
  • My brothers and sisters in Christ, you have inherited eternal life.
  • Not because you have lived a perfectly holy and righteous life.
  • You have inherited eternal life because Christ has defeated sin and death and has lovingly and graciously written your name in the Book of Life.  Amen.
The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus unto life everlasting. Amen.

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