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The Twenty-Second Sunday after Pentecost

October 21, 2018 Speaker: Murray Keith Series: Pentecost

Passage: Mark 10:23–10:31

†††In the Name of Jesus†††
Pastor Murray Keith
Text: Mark 10:23-31; Ecclesiastes 5:10-20
Date: October 21st, 2018; Pentecost 22; Series B 
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
  • Have you ever dreamt of winning the lottery?  
  • You hear about how big the jackpot is and before you know it you start thinking about what life would be like if you actually won it.  
  • I heard that the Lotto 649 jackpot is around 60 million dollars right now.
  • It’s fun to “just imagine the freedom” that kind of money would provide.
  • When I play this game of fantasy I usually start by considering how much money I would give to my friends, to family, to charity.  Oh, I would be so generous.  
  • But once I have spent a bit of time dreaming about what a good person I would be with 60 million dollars, things start to shift.  
  • I start dreaming about the amazing houses I would buy.  The luxurious and fast cars that would be in my garage.  The countries I would visit.  The things I would see and do!   
  • I would be so happy and content!  
  • So it is in my dream - but not so in reality.
  • We learn from Scripture that no amount of money can provide true joy, fulfillment, and hope.
  • The book of Ecclesiastes is a harsh description of the futility of “life under the sun,” the life of riches, pleasure, leisure, everything that we think we want and that would ultimately make us happy. 
  • Ecclesiastes is traditionally associated with King Solomon, a man of power, riches, possessions, wealth, wine, women.  You name it, Solomon had it. 
  • And after indulging himself in all of his wealth and power, he summarized his experience in a single word: Vanity.
  • He discovered that the life of excess that he was living was filled with emptiness.  It’s like chasing after the wind.
  • This is where chasing after idols leaves you.
  • An idol is anything that we fear, love, and trust above all things.
  • The idol of wealth is maybe the greatest of all idols.
  • Last week we heard that a wealthy man turned his back on Jesus and went away sorrowful because his great possessions meant more to him than God.
  • In the Large Catechism under the first commandment, “You shall have no other gods,” Luther wrote the following:
This I must unfold somewhat more plainly, that it may be understood and perceived by ordinary examples of the contrary. Many a one thinks that he has God and everything in abundance when he has money and, possessions; he trusts in them and boasts of them with such firmness and assurance as to care for no one. Lo, such a man also has a god, Mammon by name, i.e., money and possessions, on which he sets all his heart, and which is also the most common idol on earth. He who has money and possessions feels secure, and is joyful and undismayed as though he were sitting in the midst of Paradise. On the other hand, he who has none doubts and is despondent, as though he knew of no God. For very few are to be found who are of good cheer, and who neither mourn nor complain if they have not Mammon. This care and desire for money sticks and clings to our nature, even to the grave. (Large Catechism I)
  • There is no satisfaction in wealth. 
  • Again from Ecclesiastes, “He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves wealth with his income; this is also vanity.” (Ecclesiastes 5:10).
  • The more you have, the more you want.  As the goods increase, so does the craving.
  • We enter the world with nothing and we leave this word with nothing.  Focusing on gaining a bunch of worldly stuff in-between is like chasing after the wind. 
  • Jesus warned those who love money that you can’t serve two masters. You will be devoted to the one and despise the other. 
  • You can’t serve God and money at the same time. But we try. 
  • Jesus said to his disciples, “Children, how difficult 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.”(Mark 10:25).
  • The disciples were astonished!  “Who can be saved?” they asked.
  • It was a common belief held in that day that riches were a measure of God’s grace.
  • If you saw a wealthy and powerful person, you would say that they were blessed by God.  They must be doing something right.
  • But the poor man, like Lazarus with his oozing sores begging for crumbs, would be considered cursed by God. He must have done something to deserve this.
  • This view of things is still alive and well today.
  • So-called prosperity preachers still preach the message that if you find favour with God, then God will favour you with wealth and success.  
  • It’s funny how they suggest that you find favour with God by sending them money.
  • Who can be saved? If the rich who are blessed richly in this life are like a camel being squeezed through the eye of needle, who can be saved? 
  • With man, it’s impossible. We cannot save ourselves. Our money can’t save us. Our good works cant save us.  With man, it’s impossible. 
  • But it is possible with God.  It is only possible with God.
  • Repent for fearing, and loving, and trusting in what the world has to offer - instead of fearing, and loving, and trusting in God. 
  • Hear the Good News that Jesus came from the riches of heaven - to the poverty of our life to save us.  
  • He became poor for us and died our death. 
  • He was tempted by Satan that all the kingdoms of the world and their glory and riches could be his for one little act of worship. 
  • He refused.  
  • Instead, he chose the way of the least, the way of poverty, and weakness, and loss.  
  • He chose the way of suffering and death to save us from our suffering and death.
  • With God, all things are possible.  With God, your salvation, your forgiveness, your life are possible. 
  • And while it may be impossible for a rich man to squeeze himself through the narrow door of heaven, Jesus brings us through the narrow door of his death to eternal life.
  • You have been baptized into that narrow death.  You have come from death to life in Christ. 
  • And being alive in Christ means that we don’t cling to worldly wealth and riches as though they could save us and bring us peace. 
  • Our peace and contentment is found in Christ.    
  • Our peace and contentment is knowing and trusting in the One who is the way, the truth, and the life. 
  • If I happened to win millions of dollars in the lottery, I think it would be interesting to try an experiment.  
  • Imagine if each Sunday I gave everyone who came to church $1000.  
  • Anyone who showed up, sang the hymns, and didn’t fall asleep during my sermons receives $1000.
  • Imagine the lines that would form and how packed this church would be every Sunday.  
  • Dear friends, something far more valuable is being given out when we gather in God’s house each week.  
  • The Word of God is living and active - and through it we receive God’s love, forgiveness, peace, and gift of everlasting life.
  • How rich we are.  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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