13 Then they brought little children to Him, that He might touch them; but the disciples rebuked those who brought them.
In yesterday’s reading we had Jesus talking to them about whoever receives a little child in His name receives Him, only not Him but the Father. Now today we read about people bringing their children before Jesus asking for Him to touch them and the disciples rebuking them. Time has passed between when Jesus said that and now. And there is likely a crowd and they are likely thinking there are adults that need attention and the children need not be there. Remember in the culture and time children were thought of more as property than anything else. This is another instance in which we might think we know what we are doing according to culture and the nature flow of things, but we should not be quick to think we have it all together. We should be checking to see if we have the heart of Jesus, or if we are running with our own thoughts and ideas.
14 But when Jesus saw it, He was greatly displeased and said to them, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. 15 Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.” 16 And He took them up in His arms, laid His hands on them, and blessed them.
This was not the heart of Christ. Jesus wants the children to come. There is a proverb that says raise a child in the way they should go and when they are old they will not depart from it. We want to be issuing our children, or in my case the children of our society since I do not yet have kids, into the presence of Jesus. Remember that they have a lifetime of choices ahead of them. We want them prepared to make the right ones. I know the only reason I know how to make the right choices is because I know Jesus. Let’s set our children up the same way.
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?”
This seems like a good question to ask. I want eternal life so therefore I must know what it is that I must do to earn it. But therein lies the problem. We are looking at what we must do. It’s not about what we do, but about what has been done for us.
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.’”
Good was a term that was only used for God, never for their teachers. Jesus is pointing out that he has just identified Him as God. He then continues to inform him of what it takes to enter the kingdom of heaven. Jesus starts with the list of the commandments that are between people, He leaves the ones between us and God out of the conversation though. When we look at how Jesus defines murder and the others as even the intentions of our hearts we realize that none of us can honestly say we have followed all the commandments. That becomes increasingly true when we add the other part of the commandments in and realize we all have idols.
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.”
This man was a good man. These things I could not say that I kept from my youth. I have never been in serious trouble for any of these things. By the standards of the world I have been a good person, but God sees the wickedness of my heart and not just the good behavior I present. Even though this man had been a good person and kept these commandments, he still lack one thing. The root of it was that possessions and not Christ were at the center of his life. He had an idol in his life that he cherished more than God. Jesus calls him out on this by asking him to sell his possessions and follow Him. That is not the call for every rich person, to sell all they have, but for this guy that was what was needed to get at the heart issue that was keeping Him from Christ. Jesus will deal with each one of us slightly different. For some the call is to sell all, for others it is to keep it and bless others with it. It comes down to what each heart needs and only God can tell us that. Will you ask Him what it is that keeps you from Him if there is anything.
22 But he was sad at this word, and went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.
His possessions were great and that was all he could see. From the context it appears that this man went away not following Christ. We do not know if later he had a change of heart, but in this moment we know for sure he left sad thinking that the cost was to high. We can sometimes think that. I know I can, or really did. I do not think I am alone in that either. I think many of us see what we have to give up and think the cost is too high and never see the reward, or what it cost to provide the reward for us. When I think of all that Jesus gave up for me how can I choose to hold me life dear to myself? Christ gave up attributes of His deity (He never stopped being God, but He laid some of those things aside) to come and live a perfect sinless life on our behalf. The best example I have heard to describe that would be a human becoming a maggot in order to lead the other maggots to freedom. As disgusting a thought that is for us is truthfully does not come close to the reality of what God did for us in Jesus coming down to live with us. Then Jesus suffered much here for us. He was betrayed by His friend, rejected by His very own people, and murdered in the most excruciating way humanity has ever come up with. He did that all for us to be brought into relationship with Him. When I am thinking about things properly whenever Jesus asks for something to be taken from my life, or a new task picked up I should do it with a heart of gratitude in light of all He has already done for me. That was not how this guy felt. Of course Jesus had not died for our sins yet and all I just said was not disclosed yet, but He still choose his riches over relationship with God.
23 Then Jesus looked around and said to His disciples, “How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!” 24 And the disciples were astonished at His words. But Jesus answered again and said to them, “Children, how hard it is for those who trust in riches to enter the kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”26 And they were greatly astonished, saying among themselves, “Who then can be saved?”
It is not that riches are bad. Back in their culture they thought of riches as God’s blessing on their life. Neither is the case. It is not that riches are inherently good or inherently bad. Riches are not a sign of our salvation. They can be a hindrance though. We like the young ruler here can trust in our riches. That is when it gets scary. Not that we have and consider ourselves rich, but that we trust in what we have, our bank accounts and possessions. This is the scary place to be. We need to trust in Jesus beyond everything else.
27 But Jesus looked at them and said, “With men it is impossible, but not with God; for with God all things are possible.”
With men and our way of looking at things it would be impossible to be saved. By God is bigger than that. With God all things are possible. Jesus made a way for salvation for not only His people the Jews, but for us gentiles as well.
28 Then Peter began to say to Him, “See, we have left all and followed You.”
Peter sees that the command was to sell and follow. Peter rightfully points out that they have left everything behind to follow Him. He is asking what that means for them.
29 So Jesus answered and said, “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, 30 who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time—houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions—and in the age to come, eternal life. 31 But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”
We receive blessings now. God loves His children and He does shower us with His love and protection. But do not miss the part where He tells us that persuctions will be here in this time as well. We often will look at all the happy promises in the Bible and neglect the ones that speak of persecution, but they are just as real as the happy go lucky ones. But we also gain eternal life. Jesus reminds us today that the first will be last and the last will be first. Let’s look at things with the eyes of Jesus and not the eyes of society. Lord give us your eyes to see things more clearly.