Series: Guest Preachers

With God All Things Are Possible

June 30, 2024 | Ron Zeigler

Passage: Matthew 19:16-26

ALL SERMONS IN SERIES

Summary 

Jesus interacts with a rich young man seeking to know what he must do to get eternal life. The man's pretense is that he has done many good things but still thinks he has something else he needs to do. Jesus shows the man his own heart, in that he is more focused on himself and his many possessions than on God. The seemingly very capable man turns away causing Jesus' disciples to question whether anyone can get eternal life. Jesus makes it clear that it is impossible for a man or woman to get eternal life, but it is possible with God. Eternal life, peace with God is a gift that is given by God, as He sees fit, to those of His own choosing.

 

Transcript 

What is your most important question?

            For many of us, it varies depending upon our stage of life and our current living situation.

            If you interested in being married, but have not found that special someone, your most important question to which you seek an answer may be “Who will it be, will it ever be, or how will I know who is the right one?”

            If you are awaiting the results of some medical tests for a potentially serious condition, then what may be foremost in your mind is whether the report is good or bad.

            Maybe you are wondering, what is the meaning of life on earth, and what may follow this life when your body dies.

            Each of us have questions that are important to us, so we can likely relate in some manner to this man’s important question to Jesus.

            The man in this account has a question for Jesus and comes right up to Jesus to ask his question.

            However, just before this, as recorded in Matthew 19:13-15, Jesus is involved in another situation of clarifying wrong thinking. Jesus’ disciples try to keep little children from being brought to Him so He can place His hands on them and pray for them. However, Jesus would have none of it and said,

            “Let the little children come to Me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

            In a similar manner, Jesus is recorded in Mark 10:15 as saying “I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the Kingdom of  God like a little child will never enter it.”

 

            Now here is a man who needs to talk to Jesus. He has an important question to ask Jesus. The disciples do not resist him, but it is revealed in the passage that he goes away sorrowful, while we are told the children are blessed and the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.

 

            16 And behold, a man came up to Jesus, saying, "Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?"

            -This is an interesting thought that has captivated mankind as long as we have existed.

            In the garden of Eden, Adam and Eve have sinned against God by eating the forbidden fruit and now recognize they are naked and are ashamed. So, what do they do to try and fix their desperate situation?

            Do they cry out to God for mercy and help in their great time of need? No, they try to solve it themselves by putting on fig leaves that will in a short time dry up and blow away.

            However, we later learn what God does for them to cover their sin and nakedness. He kills one of His own creatures as a blood sacrifice and covers Adam and Eve with the skins. These skins, provided by God, will last much longer than the leaves that Adam and Eve foolishly tried to use to cover their sin.

            Much later, as recorded in Genesis, chapter 15, during the life of Abram, who was later renamed by God as Abraham, we are blessed with this recounting of God’s Covenant with Abram.

            -Cutting of the covenant, Genesis 15.

            “17 When the sun had set and darkness had fallen, a smoking firepot with a blazing torch appeared and passed between the pieces. 18 On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram.”

            -Like Adam and Eve, and Abram and many others, this man had a question for which he thought he had a suitable answer, but, in reality he had no clue. He thought he could do something to make himself right with God.

           

-Consider Jesus’ answer to this important question.

           

17 And Jesus said to him, "Why do you ask me about what is good?

            There is only one who is good.

            If you would enter life, keep the commandments."

           

            -Jesus as always, turns things around for truth, not one’s false understanding of reality.

            -Jesus confronts the man’s assumptions with truth by reminding him that there is only One Who is good, and it is not this man, nor any other creature. No matter what this man does, no matter how hard he may try, he cannot do enough good to merit eternal life. He, like each of us, always begins with a sin corrupted nature, which we inherited from Adam and Eve, that affects all aspects of our lives.

            -Jesus rightly directs the man to consider the Law of God, for God alone is good. 

            -The apostle Paul summarized the teachings of the Old Testament concerning trying to achieve goodness by one’s efforts in Romans 3:10-18 . . .

            10 What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, 10 as it is written: "None is righteous, no, not one; 11 no one understands; no one seeks for God. 12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one."

            13 "Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive." "The venom of asps is under their lips." 14 "Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness." 15 "Their feet are swift to shed blood; 16 in their paths are ruin and misery, 17 and the way of peace they have not known."

            18 "There is no fear of God before their eyes."

 

            -This makes it clear to all who will hear, this man, and all the rest of us have no way to be or do enough good to have God obligated to us for peace with Him unto eternal life. If it is to happen, it must come another way. It can’t come from any of us. It must come through another, acting on our behalf.

            -Even so, Jesus continues the conversation with the man and patiently received the man’s follow-up question, then promptly answers it.

 

18 The man said to Jesus, "Which ones?"

            And Jesus said,
            "You shall not murder,
            You shall not commit adultery,
            You shall not steal,
            You shall not bear false witness,
            19 Honor your father and mother, and,
            You shall love your neighbor as yourself."

 

-Jesus gives this man a long but incomplete listing of the ten commandments of which commandments he needs to keep.

            This list includes the 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th commandments along with the 2nd greatest commandment. It is truly interesting which commandments are notoriously missing from Jesus’ list. 

            -These are commandments that strike at the heart of living for the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the most complete manner with other people.

            - We know from Jesus’s sermon on the mount that when God speaks of a person sinning it is not just by wrongly doing something physical such as murder or adultery, it also includes our attitudes and thoughts as well and speaks of the overwhelming seriousness of our sin when He says in Matthew 5:27-30

             "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall not commit adultery.' 28 But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

            29 If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.”

             -Nevertheless, this man responds to Jesus with a boldness either born out of naivete, foolishness or personal arrogance. Saying . . .

            20 "All these I have kept. What do I still lack?"

             However, without challenging this man’s bold claim to have obeyed the 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, and 9th commandments, as well as the 2nd greatest commandment, Jesus raises the bar to expose this man to the reality of his own sinful heart, mind and true allegiance.

 

                21 Jesus said to him, "If you would be perfect (complete, mature), go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me."

             -Jesus presents this man with a call to obey the first and most basic of commandments, which is to have no other gods before the One True and Living God. He is to be loved with one’s whole heart, full mind, entire soul and complete strength. 

                22 When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.

            -You may be thinking to yourself, “what was this guy thinking when he said he had kept all of those commandments since his youth?” We may wonder what he really understood about the commandments of God. What had he missed with all of the sacrifices God had called His people to make for all of their sins for all of those years and years.

            -How had he missed the key understanding that there is nothing any sinner can do to make up for their sin. Through the centuries God has always called for a mediator to go between Himself and the sin of His people. Remember the cutting of the covenant mentioned earlier? 

            -Jesus reacts to the man’s response to the calling Jesus made upon his life. Jesus challenged the man to be all for God or all for himself. The man chose himself over God.

             -Later on in Matthew Jesus provides some clarity of this 1st commandment as it relates to Him as the Messiah, The One True Son of God, The only mediator between God and mankind.

             “Anyone who loves his father or mother more than Me is not worth of Me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me; and anyone who does not take his cross and follow Me is not worthy of Me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.” (Matthew 10:37-39)

            -This following of God in Jesus Christ is serious and significant.

Jesus emphasizes the casualty of loving one’s possessions; material, mental and spiritual, more than God Himself when He says to His disciples. . .

                 23"Truly, I say to you, only with difficulty will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven.
                24 Again I tell you, 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."

             Jesus uses a material impossibility to emphasize how incapable it is for someone who values God’s creation more than the Creator to ever be at peace with God and enjoy eternal fellowship with Him in this life and in the next.

             I am convinced that it matters not what quantity of wealth in possessions one has, but it does matter what value one places on them related to their dependance upon, devotion to, and commitment to God.

            If we see our possessions as more than a means to God’s perfect end, then we have placed them ahead of God in our own eyes and have wrongly valued them, just as the man did in this passage. 

            Jesus described this devotion to God and value of His kingdom this way as recorded in Matthew 13:44-46

            “The Kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.

            “Again, the Kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for find pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.”

             -The apostle Paul, sent by Jesus, to be His instrument to the Gentiles, instructed Timothy about this very issue when he wrote in his first letter to Timothy. . . 1 Timothy 6:17-19

             “Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.”

            “Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.”

             -Riches, talents and possessions are wonderful gifts from God, never to be taken lightly. We can be glad and thankful to have them. They are a generous blessing from God to be used for our own personal needs, for the benefit of God’s people, for the furthering of His kingdom and for His glory and honor.

             But, the disciples were confused with what just happened between Jesus and the man. Maybe thinking to themselves,

            “If this man can’t be saved and he has done all that he did, what hope do any of us have for eternal life?”

             25 When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished, saying, "Who then can be saved?"

             So, Jesus in His usual wonderful way, speaks directly to  the issue with surgical precision, to the heart of the matter with His disciples gathered before Him, and lays out the truth and reality of the matter.

            He turns on its head, theirs and our sinful, self-centered, self-righteous, and selfish thinking, and gives us the best news we could ever hear. He speaks the eternal truth in everlasting love as only He can do with laser focused accuracy.

             26Jesus looked at His disciples and said,

"With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."

             The deception is ever so subtle for each of us. We need the help of the Holy Spirit to root out our idolatry. My hope is that some of these questions may be used by the Holy Spirit to help each of us come to a better understanding of what each of us is at times holding on to more than Jesus.

 What in your life are you seeing as hands off by God, like the man who asked Jesus his important question?

 To what in your life are you holding tighter than you are to Jesus?

 What do think is valuable enough for you to do to gain God’s favor and His eternal salvation?

 Is there anything in your life for which God has no claim?

             There is a cost to discipleship for each one of us. Each one of us must give up the gods we place in front of the One True and Living God in Jesus Christ.

            It is subtle, yet ever so real. It is worth our greatest effort, to “sell off everything to which we try to cling” and “buy the plot of land or the pearl of great price” as they represent our finding our everything in Jesus and giving our all for God in Jesus Christ while putting all other treasures at His feet to be used as He sees fit for His glory.

             David, in Psalm 86:11-13, was moved by God to describe it this way.

            “Teach me Your way, O LORD, and
            I will walk in Your truth;
            give me and undivided heart, that
            I may fear Your name.
            I will praise You, O LORD my God, with all my heart;
            I will glorify Your name forever.
            For great is Your love toward me;
            You have delivered me from the depths of the grave.”

             -Jesus delivers to His disciples a death blow for their false thinking that they can do something in their lives to obligate God to lavish His peace and joy upon their lives. While instantaneously Jesus lavishes upon them the glorious truth about God, that all things are possible with Him.

            -So, as we leave this lovely passage may we be reminded that God’s call for obedience is not one for which we accomplish in and of ourselves as the young man in this passage wrongly thought.  Rather, it is as Augustine of Hippo, the Apostle Paul, and Jesus The Christ rightly described God’s call to obedience  richly and thoughtfully expressed it for us in these precious words. 

            “Give what You command, O LORD, and then command whatever You will.” Augustine of Hippo

             “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God Who works in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:12,13)

            “Jesus responded by saying, “Let Me assure you of one thing: you aren’t looking for Me because of the signs you saw. Rather, it is because you ate the loaves and were satisfied.  Don’t work for food that perishes, but for food that remains to eternal life which the Son of Man will give you. He is the One on Whom God has set His seal.”

            Then they said to Jesus, “What should we do to accomplish God’s works?”

            Jesus answered them with these words: “This is God’s Work, that you believe in Him Whom He has sent.” (John 6:26-29)

 

Pray, Prepare, Participate:

            -Pray: Ask God to show you the idols of your life. Ask Him to mercifully make clear to you where you are treasuring something or someone more than you treasure Him in Jesus Christ.

            -Prepare: Ask God by the power of The Holy Spirit, to show you how you can turn from trusting and treasuring these idols of your heart more than you do Him. Go to the Bible, read and meditate on it. Talk with a friend. Seek counsel from an elder in this congregation. Join a Bible study. Read a good book about idols of the heart.

            -Participate: Ask God to give you the strength, the will and the determination to work to remove these idols from your life as you seek to love Him with your whole heart, your entire mind, your total soul, and your complete strength. Make the Lord’s Day the center of your week. Prepare for it from Thursday thru Saturday and reflect upon it from Monday thru Wednesday.

             -This is not easy; it takes much work and sincere humility coupled with trust in God through Jesus Christ. It takes time as any discipline does. But it is worth it to be brought closer to God. There will likely be times when it feels more like you are taking three steps forward and then two steps backward.

            Do not lose hope, for that which God has called for you to do is good for you, even at times with a significant cost, but it is He who will accomplish it in you for your benefit, for the blessing of others and for His glory in Jesus Christ.

 “Expect great things from God
and attempt great things for God in Jesus Christ.”

William Carey

 

           

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When Pastor Peter is away Second City Church is blessed to hear other men God has gifted to preach.

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