Summary: “Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for my sake and the gospel’s, who shall not receive a hundred fold now in this time and in the age to come, eternal life”
Theme: Christ our wealth
Who is a Christian and how does one become a Christian? A common belief is that a Christian is someone who goes to Church and that one becomes a Christian by being a good person. But how does Scripture answer this important question that directly affects our eternal destiny? In today’s gospel reading the question ‘What must I do to inherit eternal life?’ could also be phrased ‘what must I do to become a Christian?’ since Christians are the ones who have eternal life. The answer Jesus gave indicates that no one could become a Christian on the basis of his or her own efforts or good works. Suppose for a moment, that all tickets for a flight to a perfect place were free but were only available to those who acknowledged and accepted its ruler as their king. What would you do if you wanted to fly to that place? Would you accept its ruler as your king or would you, because you are not prepared to do so, print your own ticket instead? Your ticket may look just like the real ticket with the correct airline, flight number and departure time on it, but should you present it at the check-in desk, it would be rejected. You would even be charged for committing a criminal offence and punished. In a similar way, the requirements for entry into God’s Kingdom are not up for debate or negotiation. Eternal life, God’s most valuable gift to us, could never be earned by somehow doing the right things. It can only be received by accepting Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord. Real lasting wealth does not lie in our possessions but in Jesus Christ.
God’s gift of eternal life is available to everyone who repents and puts his or her faith in Jesus Christ. We can only fully understand what repentance is when we are confronted with the character of God. When, like Isaiah, we see the holiness, perfection, goodness and glory of God, we will begin to see our own wretchedness and begin to understand the nature of sin and the demands of God’s law. It is only then that we can come to the realisation that we cannot fulfil the demands of God’s law on our own. The only way to fulfil God’s demands is to first admit we need help. It is only then that we can respond to the good news that Christ was put to death to pay the penalty for our sins, and “that if we confess with our mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in our heart that God has raised Him from the dead, we will be saved” (Romans 10:9-10 (quickview) ).
The Jewish people, at the time of Jesus, believed that one could get to heaven on the basis of what one did, for instance, on the basis of keeping the law of God. Many people still feel the same way today. They feel that doing the right things like being a good citizen, being a faithful husband or wife, being a devoted mother or father, and being a person who helps those in need would be enough to get them to heaven as they would have fulfilled God’s commandments. The truth, however, is that no one, apart from Jesus Christ, was or is capable of fulfilling God’s Commandments. What God expects from us is repentance and belief in what Christ has done for us. Repentance simply means to change one’s mind. This is necessary because every sinner has turned his back on God, his Father, and on heaven, his home. In this sinful condition every step he takes is a step away from God and from heaven. The only way to change the situation is to change one’s mind about God, change direction, and turn back to God. Repentance is admitting we need help “for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” Romans 3:23 (quickview) . The young ruler, just like many people today, was not even aware of his spiritual condition. He felt and believed that he was qualified and good enough to get into heaven on his own and if not he could do whatever God required. But when God required that He come first in his life, he was not prepared to give up his wealth. If we were the ones on the road with Jesus would we put Christ first? Would we be prepared to give up our job, our car, our house, our income, or our savings to follow Him?