Summary: Here walked a man that the disciples were drooling over. He was righteous, rich, and ready to become a follower of Jesus. But the standards were out of reach for him.
Passage: Matthew 19:16-30
Intro: I saw a campaign sign this week that made me think.
1. “water is our future”
2. if it is, we are in trouble.
3. I like water, but it can only do so much
4. but that kind of statement reveals a classic human characteristic.
5. we look for security in outward stuff; things we can see.
6. the passage we have read is an incredibly powerful statement about this very real tendency.
7. and further, it exposes a powerful deception that saturates everything in our world.
8. this is a conversation, not even a real confrontation, and it is filled with sadness.
9. but it is immensely important for us to realize the power of this deception so we don’t get sucked in.
10. start with principles, end with application
I. Humans Focus On Externals
1. v16, don’t know who, could be Saul/Paul?
2. but clearly a Jew, clearly zealous
3. “what good thing…” so he is looking for an action he can do
4. Jesus answered with the obvious, just keep the Law, as you already know.
5. Jesus not teaching works righteousness, unless of course you can keep it perfectly.
PP Romans 3:23
6. really interesting in v18 “Which ones?” He is negotiating
7. he is looking for a priority list, to focus on the big ones that may be achievable.
8. looking for credit for “relative righteousness,” and then get a pass on the rest.
9. as a human, he is interested in appearances, compared to others and not God.
Il) growing up in 60s, styles changed dramatically, hair length, skirt length, facial hair. Church involved in the debate.
10. v18, he feels pretty good about the “sins of commission.” He has avoided the big ones, the obvious
11. but he also says he has “loved his neighbor as himself”
12, as we know, some things are easy to say but hard to do, so Jesus probes in an unusual way.
13. God’s righteousness has two poles:
-never does anything wrong
-everything He does is right
14. so this man may have avoided many of the large sins of commission, but we will see about the “sins of omission”=not doing what is right
15. so Jesus throws down a challenge
II. God Focuses on the Heart
1. the challenge is clear, not complicated
2. “sell your possessions” give the proceeds to the poor, and follow me.
3. for this Jewish man, could well be income-producing property, like farmland.
4. now Jesus is not giving us a new way to be righteous enough for God.
5. but He is probing the heart of this man at a very powerful place; the place of riches, of possessions, of money.
6. simple question being asked: “Does money mean more to you than eternal life?”
PP Matthew 6:24
7. what does your view of money say about the state of your heart?
8. because if you really love your neighbor as much as you love yourself, you will not let him be in want while you live in luxury
9. but if you are self-centered, and find your security in money, you will hold on to it, even if it costs you eternal life.
10. and so this young man walked away from the Lord Jesus, the chains of his enslavement to deception dragging in the dust behind him.
11. but don’t stop there! Jesus is now going to use this as a powerful teaching moment.
III. Wealth Exposes the Heart
1. as the man walked away, Jesus made a statement of general principle in v23
2. uses this incredible hyperbole in v24
Il) we have all heard about the alleged small gate in Jerusalem by this name, but there is actually no evidence for it. Real camel, real needle.
3. now the disciples were amazed, because they, being good Jews, equated riches with the blessing of God.
4. so if this rich guy can’t make it with all the evidence that God already likes him, what chance does anyone have?
5. but what is it about $ that makes it such a problem? Is it that bad?
6. it is an idol, a substitute for God, but with a difference.
7. it can actually do things in the physical world, while other idols can’t
PP Isaiah 44:17-18, Dagon falling on his face before the ark
8. but money can achieve things! It can feed us and clothe us and shelter us and transport us and buy us pleasure.
9. in the physical world, it can give us many of the things that God promises us, at least temporarily
PP “It’s a Wonderful Life” clip, George Bailey talking to Clarence, “Well, it comes in pretty handy down here, bub.”
10. we have agreed together here on earth that certain things have certain value, even if it is not intrinsic.