I find myself in regular wrestling matches with Jesus. He’s just so freaking frustrating sometimes. It probably doesn’t help that He spoke Aramaic on earth, His words were written down in Greek, and here I am reading my various English translations 2,000 years later.
Besides the language issues, He never really seems to answer the questions He’s asked. He always pops out of no where with these borderline sarcastic comments, and His answers leave you with 20 more questions in their wakes. Who said Jesus was “tender, meek, and mild?” They clearly don’t know the same guy I do…
My latest wrestling match has been with Luke 18:18-30. Actually, it’s a wrestling match going on 24 years, because this is one of those passages that always hits a chord (although I’m not even sure which chord to be honest) when I read it. I always leave reading it shaking my head and thinking “What does this mean, Lord?”
The Rich and the Kingdom of God
18A certain ruler asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
19 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. 20 You know the commandments: ‘You shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.’[a]”
21“All these I have kept since I was a boy,” he said.
22When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
23 When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was very wealthy. 24 Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! 25Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”
26Those who heard this asked, “Who then can be saved?”
27Jesus replied, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.”
28Peter said to him, “We have left all we had to follow you!”
29 “Truly I tell you,” Jesus said to them, “no one who has left home or wife or brothers or sisters or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God 30 will fail to receive many times as much in this age, and in the age to come eternal life.”
Funny You Should Call Me That…
“Why do you call me good?… No one is good– except God alone.”
Have you ever read that line and said, “Umm… ?” I have. But today I think I finally got it (maybe I’m just slow). I’ve been looking at Jesus recently and thinking about His Holy sarcasm, and I think this little comment fits right in with the “white-washed tombs” insults and the like.
You see, this guy came up to him and addressed Him as “Good Teacher” which, fine, Jesus was a Rabbi and teacher, but I bet Jesus knew something we don’t immediately see in this case. I bet this guy was calling Him a good teacher, and that was it. This guy hadn’t bought in to the rest of who Jesus is, which is that He is The Christ, the Son of God.
It’s like the guy walked up to Jesus and was like, “Hey, you’re pretty smart, right? People are saying you’re pretty good at teaching and knowing the scripture, right? Sooo… in your expert opinion, what do I need to do to be saved. I just want to make sure my theology is straight and that you would check off on my squeaky clean record.”
Jesus, in His mercy and goodness, doesn’t pat Him on the back and say, “Yep, you’re doing great!” Instead, in His ever-loving kindness, He exposes this rich man’s unbelief and challenges Him to start believing that Jesus is Who. He. Says. He. Is. He says, “Hmm…that’s funny that you called me good, seeing that only God is good, and you don’t really believe that I am He, do you? Let’s start with the real issue here.”
And isn’t that the challenge before me?? It’s so easy to get caught up in various debates like: am I required give 10% or more? Am I giving enough to missionary work? Is it ok to save this money for myself? “Good teacher… are you and I square? Am I checking all the right boxes??”
I get so caught up in all of these questions that I lose sight of the truth. OR I get so inflated with pride in myself because I think I am checking all the right boxes that I lose sight of the truth. Either way, it takes Jesus’ stern reminder to shake me back to the course:
“I AM that I AM.” I AM the one who called you to get out of debt. I AM the one who called you to live the simple life. I AM the one who called you to this job. I AM the one who directs your life. I AM the one who pays your bills. I AM.
Did I check all the right boxes? Maybe. But my little self-survey isn’t going to survive the fire of judgement day anyway. What will survive is mywillingness to sell out in the eyes of the world and commit my heart 100% to the pursuit of Christ.
How About You?
Is He who He says He is? Or isn’t He…
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