2015-5-24 Yielding to Jesus

LUKE 18:18-30                                                                                          MAY 24, 2015


I like to listen to talk radio! I have noticed that when people call in they usually start with comments flattering the radio talk show host. They then mention how many years they have been listeners. Usually people like to flatter others especially when they want to ask a question which will cast them in a positive light as they hope to receive word of how well they are doing. The rich ruler who came to Jesus was hoping to receive a good word from Jesus commending him for his goodness.

I guess it is natural for most people to seek positive feedback from people we admire. It is not surprising that many people came to Jesus with high hopes of receiving such comments. However, Jesus came not to flatter people but to seek and to save the lost. Jesus also had the habit of answering questions with a question.

Luke 18:18 (NIV) 18 A certain ruler asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” We know from the gospel of Matthew that this ruler was also young. Luke was not interested in his age but in his attitude. The ruler must have been a civic leader and of high social status as well as being wealthy. The man addressed Jesus as “Good teacher” which is an uncommon form of address. The man was trying to flatter Jesus by calling him good. His question was one in which he thought he knew the answer already.

Jesus pushed backed by reminding him of basic theology in asking his question. Luke 18:19-20 (NIV) 19 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good–except God alone. 20 You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.'” Jesus mentioned the fifth through the ninth commandments which deal with how we treat other people.

The ruler responded to Jesus reciting the commandments. Luke 18:21 (NIV) 21 “All these I have kept since I was a boy,” he said. The ruler has the idea that he is sure to go to heaven as he thinks he has always kept these commandments. It is sad that many people still think the same way in that salvation depends on an individual’s efforts. I am sure you have heard people say “I am sure that they are going to heaven because they were so good”?

It is not surprising that people have this wrong understanding. Even at the time of Jesus many Jewish people overlooked the call to love God which they were commanded to do in Deuteronomy 30:16-18 (NIV) 16 For I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the LORD your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess. 17 But if your heart turns away and you are not obedient, and if you are drawn away to bow down to other gods and worship them, 18 I declare to you this day that you will certainly be destroyed.” Loving and obeying God involves our attitude as well as our choices in life.

Jesus makes this point by challenging him to store up treasure in heaven and by becoming a disciple of Jesus. Luke 18:22 (NIV) 22 When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” Jesus forces the ruler to look inward to see what the man values most in life. Jesus is clear about what is expected of those who want eternal life. Luke 9:23-25 (NIV) 23 Then he said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. 25 What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?” Jesus was probing his heart to see what the man valued most and where his true allegiance lay. It is one thing to say you follow Jesus, yet the proof is found when we obey his word.

The ruler revealed what he valued most. Luke 18:23-25 (NIV) 23 When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was a man of great wealth. 24 Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! 25 Indeed, 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.”  It is clear that Jesus meant it was next to impossible for a rich person to become a Christian.  This statement shocked the disciples. They wanted to know who then could be saved!

The disciples thought that being rich was a sign of God’s blessing. God has always warned the rich to be responsible in using one’s wealth to do good works. Micah 6:8 (NIV) 8 He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Many Christians today are still confused about wealth and get tangled up with the allure of wealth and make it their master. Jesus warned that we cannot love  both God and Money.

Jesus provides the answer of how we are to have the right attitude. Luke 18:27 (NIV) 27 Jesus replied, “What is impossible with men is possible with God.” All of us need God to change our heart and change our allegiance from serving ourselves to serving God. We must ask God how we are to serve Him. He will show us what each of us will be called to do.

Some have been confused by Peter’s comment thinking he was bragging about himself and the other disciples. Luke 18:28 (NIV) 28 Peter said to him, “We have left all we had to follow you!” Peter was just checking to be sure that they were okay. Jesus responds with an affirmation that anyone who leaves everything will be rewarded. Luke 18:29-30 (NIV) 29 “I tell you the truth,” Jesus said to them, “no one who has left home or wife or brothers or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God 30 will fail to receive many times as much in this age and, in the age to come, eternal life.”

Jesus seeks to expose our hearts so that we can see clearly identify what we value most in life. Once God opens our hearts and minds then we must make the choice of whom we will obey: our own wants and desires or will we chose to obey Christ and his grace that covers all our sins.

Let us pray