20th Sunday following Pentecost-10/10/2021
Psalm 22:1-15; Job 23:1-9, 16-17; Hebrews 4:12-16; Mark 10:17-31
Matthew drew out the correspondence between this sad psalm and Jesus’ crucifixion. There was the roll of the dice for Jesus’ few possessions (Matt. 27:35, the great cry of abandonment (Matt. 27:46), and the mockings and insults (Matt. 27:39). Christians of today will recognize and understand that a body in the grave returns to dust, thus death is viewed as dusty. Its approach is seen as the growing loss of strength and moisture, a vivid description of the onset of death.
In Job we are to identify God’s commands is not enough. The transitions of character they can bring begins when one feeds upon them and finds sustenance for one’s soul from them. They must become our greatest treasure even in dark days of suffering. Job did not understand why his troubles had come upon him, but he trusted in the sovereignty and justice of God. He wanted to his appointed time for a legal hearing with God so that divine justice could be established and understood. As humans we do not have sufficient knowledge or live long enough to see justice worked out in life. Only at the final judgment will we fully see God establish His justice in His world. Until then the power of Satan and the effects of human sin prevent us from enjoying justice. As with Job, people do suffer unjustly, but when Jesus returns, all will be revealed.
From Hebrews we find God’s Word was preached in verbal forms, lived out in person by Jesus, and finally placed in stable, written form. In every form it is more efficient than any human tool. We know that in the end times, we will all have to account to God for our earthly lives and actions; thus we are called to repent of our sins regularly and sincerely, or they will not be forgiven. A personal relationship to God requires personal responsibility. This we do, as we understand nothing is ever missed by God, that He sees and hears all things and we will be accountable for all.
We must also recognize that Jesus was tempted thoroughly, yet he remained without sin. Beloved, if Christ had not experienced being a human, any approach to His throne would be either intimidating or insolent on our part. He took part in our nature and understand every aspect of that nature from within. He is not hostile to humanity but is one of us. He wants to help each of us be the kind of human being He was, and He knows how to help. When we come cloest to Him, we approach a nature like His. Therefore, we dare to approach with boldness and confidence.
Finally we come to our Gospel message this morning. Its central point is directed towards the “rich young man,” who walks up to Jesus and asks Him this question: “Good Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” For liturgical churches, this time of year Scriptures lead to our giving, it is time to budget for next year’s activities, expenses, outreach, and the general expenses to operate a church. Those who are tasked with coming up with a budget, are seeking people to give an idea of how much everyone is giving, so that they can plan. Sometimes, you take what is given and them take a leap of faith of how much we think we will get based on previous years. He we are presented with a rich man who want to know how much he must give, and Jesus is talking about giving out of faith, not our of abundance. Furthermore, the giving is not just to give a certain amount of money, but also to give of our own skills and labors for the church.
Jesus’ response to the rich man is, “why do you call me good?” He says, “no one is good—-except God alone. You know the commandments and then lists them for him.” “Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept sine I was a boy.” Jesus simply looks at him and loves 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.” The man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth. The man went away. Jesus asked His disciples, “How hard it is for the rich, to enter the kingdom of God!” When people value possessions above God, they have effectively severed their relationship both with God and people. Any degree of spiritual perception indicates such a life is visibly empty and unfulfilling.
Those who commit their wealth (whatever it may be) to meet the needs of the poor will have riches in heaven. Such commitment removes wealth an an obstacle to receiving God’s eternal blessings. It reveals we value our relationship to God above our possessions. The disciples were even more amazed and said to each other, “Who then can be saved?” Jesus looked upon them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but not with God; all thing are possible with God.”
Peter said to Jesus, “We have left everything to follow you!” Jesus did not give an answer that would cheapen or lessen the gospel by promising a sort of merit system. Instead, he promised those who are faithful to Him and to God in this world will be abundantly blessed in the life to come. In the life of the age to come is eternal life. A believer in Jesus possesses eternal life already. In that sense the age to come has broken in on the present age. Beloved, seeking eternal rewards is not wrong. Serving Christ faithfully often involves sacrifices and self-denial. Our Lord promises that the abundance of the reward will outshine any sacrifice we make o win others to Christ. If we do not serve Jesus selflessly, we may be the “firs” that shall me “last” as our Lord warned us. Amen.