Pastor Brian's Exhortation to Holy Trinity Church on October 11th, 2015
“And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, ‘Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’ And he said to him, ‘Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.’ And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, ‘You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.’ Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.”
When this young man asks Jesus how to inherit eternal life, Jesus quotes all of the commandments that specifically address his relationship to other people. When the young man claims to have faithfully kept those commands, Jesus adds something – go and sell all you have and give it to the poor.
Wait! That’s not one of the commandments, is it? Yes, it is. In fact, it is the one the young man most needed to hear – “You shall have no other gods before me.” The young man was sorrowful because his riches were his god. He wanted eternal life, but not enough to receive it as a child – with complete abandonment of himself into the arms of Jesus (v. 15). He wanted the kind of faith that made him feel assured that he was okay, without requiring anything of him. But, that kind of faith does not and cannot save.
Do we believe Christ’s words that the last will be first, that those who lose their lives will find them, that the poor in spirit receive the kingdom of God? “Whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.”
The rich young man was too easily pleased. As C.S. Lewis said, "It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”