Wednesday, March 28, 2007

What Will You Say?

What Will You Say?


This past Sunday we heard the story of a man named Zacchaeus who climbed up into a tree hoping to see Jesus. Zacchaeus got more than he bargained for and perhaps so did many of us from his story.

Remember the points?

1. Jesus is coming to our town

2. Jesus knows us by name

3. Jesus wants to go to our house today

4. Jesus will give us chances others may never give us

5. It may not be all about you

We wondered together about the rippling affects of one person who repents and gets their life right with God. Perhaps Zacchaeus was called to repentance that day for others whom God had on His mind as well. Maybe that poor widow who needed daily bread or that child of God who had been cheated out of his money by Zacchaeus and his unfair tax collecting practices.

Who knows why God does what He does? God does!

Who hears the prayers?

Who sees the needs?

Who knows the resources? God does!

Tonight we are going to continue with our series as we stay with Jesus on His road to the cross during these important last days of His earthly ministry. Much of the New Testament, perhaps a third or more, is focused on these last days of Christ from Galilee to Gethsemane, from Golgotha to the Garden Tomb, from the Resurrection to the Ascension.

These two weeks are filled with so many of the parables and teachings we know and love. It is during these days that Jesus intensifies His ministry and gives us great and eternal truths.

A few days after Zacchaeus’ conversion, Jesus encounters another prominent man as He continues to minister in and around the city of Jericho … we know this prominent man as:

‘The Young Rich Ruler’

Wow, he had it all:

Young --- Rich --- and In Charge

With His mind on the cross but His heart still on people, lets look and see what we can learn from Jesus as He ministers to this man and gives him his chance, just like He gave Zacchaeus.

These few days were spent around Jericho teaching to the multitudes who were camped along the roadside and near the Jordan River crossing where John the Baptist had baptized Jesus just over 3 years earlier. On perhaps Tuesday or Wednesday that week, just outside the city of Jericho, we pick up in the book of Mark, Chapter 10.

Mark 10 NKJV

17 ¶ Now as He was going out on the road, one came running, knelt before Him, and asked Him, "Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?"

18 So Jesus said to him, "Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God.

19 "You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery,’ ‘Do not murder,’ ‘Do not steal,’ ‘Do not bear false witness,’ ‘Do not defraud,’ ‘Honor your father and your mother.’"

20 And he answered and said to Him, "Teacher, all these things I have kept from my youth."

21 Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, "One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me."

22 But he was sad at this word, and went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.

Notice that in verse 19 Jesus refers this man to the second table of the law, specifically commandments 6,7,8,9 & 10, although not in order, nonetheless Jesus is telling this man that loving one’s neighbor as one’s self is very much a part of a life on the right track.

So many people feel secure however, as did this particular man, in the fact that they are not murders or thieves or liars. The whole message of this story points us to know that these works in and of themselves, although good, are insufficient to secure eternal life.

There is no argument from Jesus as this man confesses his pious self righteous lifestyle. “I have kept all of these commandments since I was a youth.” And yet Jesus says that even though you have been a perfect citizen and moral role model to which all may testify … yet there is:

“One thing you lack.”

The priorities of eternal life demand that we put God first place in our life even above good works and even above the needs of others.

It’s not always about what we do, but why we do what we do and Who we do it for.

God demands to be first. He will not be second place.

This Young Rich Ruler who had it all: youth, money, position, power, prestige, success, a clean record and good credibility was headed straight to hell for one reason and one reason only … This man was not connected to God.

Perhaps there could be many reasons why this guy did what he did and lived like he lived but it is certain that he was not doing it for God, but rather for himself.

Jesus spoke to this and revealed this man’s idolatry. Even though he was keeping the second table of the law which deals with how man treats man, he was not keeping the first table of the law, commandments 1-4, which deal with how man treats God.

Money was this man’s God. Along with the money no doubt came position, power and prestige which he enjoyed so much. Evidently his status and comfort was pretty important to him. Maybe he was prideful and could not imagine becoming ordinary and just like everyone else.

Who knows? God does!

And that day on a road just outside the city of Jericho, God offered this man his chance to change.

Luke 16: 13 "No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money." (NLT)

Jesus said, “You cannot serve God and money.”

The Apostle Paul would later write to Pastor Timothy:

1 Timothy 6:17 Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy.

We are not to love the things of this world but rather to enjoy them.

God does not mind us having things, but He does mind things having us.

So many people read the story of this Young Rich Ruler and hear Jesus saying what this Young Rich Ruler must have heard:

I you want to know God you must give up your money.

Jesus never said that!

Jesus did not say ‘give up’, rather He said ‘give to’ … there is a world of difference.