Posts Tagged ‘Eternal Life’

Matthew 20:17-19 – JESUS, WHAT WAS THE POINT OF DYING FOR ME? 

Matthew 20:17-19 (NLT) says As Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, He took the twelve disciples aside privately and told them what was going to happen to Him. “Listen,” He said, “we’re going up to Jerusalem, where the Son of Man will be betrayed to the leading priests and the teachers of religious law. They will sentence Him to die. Then they will hand Him over to the Romans to be mocked, flogged with a whip, and crucified. … 

Cross

Reflecting on the Crucifixion – © Photo by Ross Cochrane

Jesus knew that He would be betrayed by friends, Romans and countrymen. Condemned unjustly, He would die a cruel death.   

Isaiah 53:3-12 (NLT) gives an incredible prophecy. It mirrors the words Jesus shared with His disciples about His death. It says, He was despised and rejected – a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. We turned our backs on Him and looked the other way. He was despised, and we did not care. … He had done no wrong and had never deceived anyone. He was pierced … crushed … beaten … whipped … He exposed Himself to death … He was buried like a criminal; He was put in a rich man’s grave. 

I am left with important questions which need to be answered because Isaiah also says that He died for me. 

Jesus, why did You choose to die for me? What did it achieve? What was the point? 

For me, those questions have been answered clearly and consistently throughout the BibleJesus has already responded to me through His Word. He says… 

  1. BECAUSE LOVED YOU AND WANT YOU TO SHARE MY LOVE  

 

Key of Life

Cross = Love. Key of Life – © Image Created by Ross Cochrane

Ephesians 5:2 (NLT2) says, He loved us and offered Himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. 

Romans 5:8 (NLT) says, “God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” 

2. I AM THE ONLY ONE WHO COULD SAVE YOU 

one-way3

One Way © by Ross Cochrane

In John 14:6 (NLT) Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through Me.” 

Hebrews 2:10 (NLT) says, “… And it was only right that He should make Jesus, through His suffering, a perfect leader, fit to bring them into their salvation.”  

Luke 19:10 (NLT) says, “For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost.” 

1 Peter 1:18-19 (NLT) says, For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And it was not paid with mere gold or silver, which lose their value. It was the precious blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God.” 

Romans 10:9-10 (NLT) says, “If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved.” 

1 Corinthians 1:18 says, “The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction! But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God.” 

3. TO BREAK THE POWER OF THE DEVIL, SIN AND DEATH  

Wrecking Ball 1

Breaking down the walls © by Ross Cochrane

Hebrews 2:14 (NLT2) … For only as a human being could He die, and only by dying could He break the power of the devil, who had the power of death …”  

Romans 8: 1-2 says, So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to Him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death. 

4. TO SET US FREE FROM THE FEAR OF DYING 

 

Hereafter

Hereafter © by Ross Cochrane

 Hebrews 2:15 (NLT) says, “… Only in this way could He set free all who have lived their lives as slaves to the fear of dying.  

5. TO FORGIVE YOU AND TAKE AWAY YOUR SINS AND THE PENALTY OF YOUR SIN

 

Do we live in a Just World?

JUSTICE AND GRACE © by Ross Cochrane

Hebrews 2:17 (NLT) continues, “Then He could offer a sacrifice that would take away the sins of the people.…”  

Romans 3:23-24 (NLT) says, For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, in His grace, freely makes us right in His sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when He freed us from the penalty for our sins.” 

Isaiah 53:3-5 (NLT) says, He was despised, and we did not care. Yet it was our weaknesses He carried; it was our sorrows that weighed Him down. And we thought His troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for His own sins! But He was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed. …  

All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the Lord laid on Him the sins of us all …  

1 Peter 2:24 (NLT) says, He personally carried our sins in His body on the cross so that we can be dead to sin and live for what is right. By His wounds you are healed.” 

Ephesians 1:7 (NLT) says, He is so rich in kindness and grace that He purchased our freedom with the blood of His Son and forgave our sins.” 

6. TO HELP YOU IN TIMES OF SUFFERING AND TESTING  

What happens when my world falls apart

What Happens When my World falls apart? © Ross Cochrane

Hebrews 2:18 (NLT)says, “…Since He Himself has gone through suffering and testing, He is able to help us when we are being tested.”  

7. TO UNITE YOU AND BRING YOU INTO RELATIONSHIP WITH ME 

Cross = Love. Jesus Loves Us

Cross = Love. Jesus Loves Us and Wants a Relationship with Us. © by Ross Cochrane

Ephesians 2:13-18 (NLT2) says, But now you have been united with Christ Jesus. Once you were far away from God, but now you have been brought near to Him through the blood of Christ. For Christ Himself has brought peace to us. He united Jews and Gentiles into one people when, in His own body on the cross, He broke down the wall of hostility that separated us. He did this by ending the system of law with its commandments and regulations. He made peace between Jews and Gentiles by creating in Himself one new people from the two groups. Together as one body, Christ reconciled both groups to God by means of His death on the cross, and our hostility toward each other was put to death. He brought this Good News of peace to you ..Now all of us can come to the Father through the same Holy Spirit because of what Christ has done for us.” 

Isaiah 53:11-12 (NLT) says, “… And because of His experience, My righteous servant will make it possible for many to be counted righteous, for He will bear all their sins. I will give Him the honours of a victorious soldier, because He exposed Himself to death.  

He was counted among the rebels. He bore the sins of many and interceded for rebels.” 

8. TO GIVE YOU THE GIFT OF ETERNAL LIFE 

Jesus Loves Me!

Golden Thread on the Gift of Eternal Life © by Ross Cochrane

John 17:1-3 (NLT2) says,  He (God the Father) gives eternal life to each one You have given Him (God the Son)And this is the way to have eternal life—to know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, the One You sent to earth …”  

9. TO COMPLETE THE PURPOSES GOD GAVE ME TO DO 

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Completing the Work of the Cross © Image by Ross Cochrane

John 17:4-5 (NLT) says, “… (Jesus) brought glory to You (God the Father) here on earth by completing the work You gave Me to do. Now, Father, bring Me into the glory We shared before the world began.  

10. TO MODEL THE PRINCIPLES OF SERVANTHOOD 

Servant Leadership

Servant Leadership © by Ross Cochrane

Philippians 2:5-8 (NLT2) says, You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Though He was God, He did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, He gave up His divine privileges; He took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When He appeared in human form, He humbled Himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.” 

Pastor Ross 

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Denarius © Animation Created by Ross Cochrane using Blender Cycles

Matthew 20:1-16 – WHAT IS JESUS TRYING TO TELL ME?

I love the parable of the Landowner and the Vineyard Workers. Jesus likens the kingdom of heaven to the generosity of a landowner who hires laborers at various times during the day. At 6 am He hires people to work in His vineyard for a day’s wage. He hires additional people at 9 a.m., noon, 3 p.m. and again at 5 p.m., telling each of these groups that He will give them “whatever is right.” and then pays the last hired with the same wage as those hired first. Absurd! Economy irresponsible! Incredibly generous! Unfair? Since this is a parable about the Kingdom of Heaven, what can I learn?

1. THE LANDOWNER NEVER STOPS SEARCHING FOR THOSE WHO WILL SERVE HIM IN THE VINEYARD. He comes repeatedly to the marketplace, all through the day, and at the end of the day gives each one a full days wage.

God never stops searching for those who desire to believe in His Sonserve Him and receive His gift of eternal life. He found me and gave me the opportunity to receive eternal life.

John 15:16 (NLT) says, You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, 

2. THE LANDOWNER FULFILLS HIS AGREEMENT WITH THE INITIAL WORKERS TO PAY A FULL DAY’S WAGE

God keeps His promises. He has promised Eternal Life to those who give their lives to Christ.

Numbers 23:19 (NLT) says, God is not a man, so He does not lie. He is not human, so He does not change His mind. Has He ever spoken and failed to act? Has He ever promised and not carried it through?

Acts 16:31 (NLT) says, Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, …” 

3. THE DAY WORKERS WAITED AT THE MARKETPLACE READY AND WILLING TO WORK

God chose me because He knew I was willing to come. 

John 3:16 (NLT) says, “For God loved the world so much that He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. 

4. THE DAY WORKERS RECOGNISE THAT THEY ARE DESTITUTE WITHOUT THE LANDOWNER

They agree to serve the Landowner knowing He will do what is right. Without Him, they are destitute.

We are destitute spiritually without ChristJesus offered the rich young ruler eternal life but he turned away from Him. Jesus then told this parable about those who served Him who recognize that they are poor without Him. We come to God recognizing the inadequacy of our own resources for life and eternity.

John 15:5 (NLT) says, “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in Me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from Me you can do nothing.

Romans 5:6 (NLT) says, When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners.

5. THE WORKERS WHO CAME THROUGHOUT THE DAY TRUSTED THE LANDOWNER

They did not know how much they would receive but they worked for Him anyway.

We come to Christ to serve Him, not simply to get our needs met. We come under His authority. And what we receive goes way beyond what we deserve.

In Joshua 24:15 (NLT) Joshua challenges people to choose who they will serve. He said, But as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord.”

Psalm 34:22 (NLT) says But the Lord will redeem those who serve Him. No one who takes refuge in Him will be condemned.

Matthew 9:37-38 (NLT) says, “The harvest is great, but the workers are few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask Him to send more workers into his fields.”

6. NONE OF THE WORKERS DESERVED ANYTHING FROM THE LANDOWNER

Not those who worked a full day or those who worked for only an hour. It was only by the grace of the Landowner that they were given anything, since it all belonged to Him.

God gives us that which we do not earn, work for or deserve. Eternal life is a free gift. Serving God is a given for every Christian. Eternal life was paid for by Christ, not us, and given to us as a free gift.

Ephesians 2:8-9 (NLT) says, God saved you by His grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.

7. THE WORKERS WHO CAME FIRST WERE NO MORE IMPORTANT THAN THOSE WHO CAME LAST

Denarii

Denarius © Created by Ross Cochrane using Blender Cycles

My service to Christ is no less important than others who may be famous or have more money or have more influence than I do. Eternal life is not dependent on whether I’m better than someone else in earthly terms. I have the privilege of serving Christ in the best way I can and even then I need His help.

Ephesians 2:9 (NLT) says Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.

8. THE WORKERS WHO WORKED A FULL DAY WANTED MORE THAN THEY RECEIVEDeven though they received what they had been promised. They wanted to be paid based on comparison with others.

I can trust God for my provision.

Whether I have a lot of money in the bank or not, it’s easy to be more concerned or even anxious with what I have or do not have than in trusting in God for my finances and for my daily provision. It’s easy to compare what I have with others.

1 Timothy 6:6-10 (NLT) reminds me that “…true godliness with contentment is itself great wealth. After all, we brought nothing with us when we came into the world, and we can’t take anything with us when we leave it. So, if we have enough food and clothing, let us be content.

But people who long to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many foolish and harmful desires that plunge them into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows” 

The rich young ruler went away sorrowful and without eternal life because he wasn’t willing to give his riches away. The poor day workers received a full days wage, more than they expected because they were willing to receive whatever was right from the Landowner and come under His authority and serve Him.

Jesus said, “… I am the gate. Those who come in through Me will be saved. They will come and go freely and will find good pastures. The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.”

What an amazing perspective for life.

Pastor Ross

Denarii © Created by Ross Cochrane with Blender Cycles

Matthew 20:1-16 – WHEN GOD IS UNFAIR – Jesus and the Fair Workers Tribunal – Part 2

Matthew 20:1 says, “For the Kingdom of Heaven is like the landowner who went out early one morning to hire workers for His vineyard...”

Tribunal Chairperson – Now, we understand you are the Landowner of the Kingdom of Heaven Vineyards.

Jesus – Yes. The Landowner, creator and employer. 

Tribunal Chairperson – Your name for the record?

Jesus  Joshua Davidson, known as Jesus to most.

Tribunal Chairperson – And why do you call Your vineyard the Kingdom of heaven?

Jesus  It is called a Kingdom because it is the sphere where I exercise absolute authority as owner and employer. It is called Heaven because it is a place of fruitfulnesslife and perfection. Once workers come to My Vineyard they live on the property and under My authority. They find their ultimate calling and destiny. 

Tribunal Chairperson – We understand that this morning you hired some workers?

Jesus  Yes, I searched for them, found them and invited them to serve Me in My Vineyard. Without being hired, these day laborers would not have the resources they need to liveThey would be destitute and starve. I am their provider.

Tribunal Chairperson – We are here because a question has been asked by Peter, James and John, who are also Your employees, about fairness. You must realize that Employees have to be paid at least their minimum pay rates and entitlements. What exactly is the enterprise agreement or other registered agreement that Your workers are under?

Jesus – I have made a covenant agreement with all those who serve at the Vineyard. It is called Grace. I bypass normal agreements by giving a gift to every one of the same value. I simply say to My workers, “If you serve Me, you will not receive what is fair, but what I decide to give to you which will be right.”  

Tribunal Chairperson – I thought as much. Your employees have been underpaid, and it needs to be fixed as soon as possible. We, therefore, are calling upon You to pay your workers what is fair. We understand that sometimes underpayments happen accidentally because of computer or human errorthe wrong number of hours paidpenalty rates not appliedother entitlements not paid, such as leave or allowancesbut You have deliberately underpaid Your workers. At the end of the day, we are here to audit only one pay period over a 12 hour day. We understand you employed others workers at different times of the day.

Jesus  Yes, I am continually looking for those who want to serve Me in the Vineyard. Many people are just waiting for the opportunity and are grateful that I have found them.

Tribunal Chairperson – You chose those who were just standing around?

Jesus  Yes. But it‘s not that these workers want to do nothing. They aren’t lazy. They are waiting for the opportunity to work and searching for MeThose who serve Me have realized that their lives were going nowhere and now they have meaning. They serve Me because they are willing to find their destiny in life. 

Deuteronomy 4:29 says  you will search again for the Lord your God. And if you search for Him with all your heart and soul, you will find Him.”

Jeremiah 29:13 says If you look for Me wholeheartedly, you will find Me. … says the Lord.

Tribunal Chairperson  That’s all well and good, but You kept on hiring people all through the day. We are here to ensure You pay Your workers what they deserve and apparently, this did not happen.

Jesus  My workers deserve nothing from my hand, yet I have given them all the same gift, which represents life and what they can never earn, work for or deserve. Am I to understand that You don’t wish Me to pay those who serve me at all? 

Tribunal Chairperson  Of course not. We are here to ensure that those You do hire are paid what they deserve.

Jesus – You do not realize what you are asking. To pay them what they deserve would only lead to their destruction?

Tribunal Chairperson  Are you saying that your employees don’t deserve to be paid at all?

Jesus  That’s correct. I don’t need to employ them. I have found them in the marketplace of the world and invited them to come to Me and serve Me. They came willingly, knowing that whatever I gave them would be more than they deserve. 

Tribunal Chairperson – I believe some workers came to work for you at 5 in the afternoon and yet you still hired them with just one hour left in the day?

Jesus  Yes. I am always looking for those who will come under my authority. If you had come I would have asked you also “Why haven’t you been working today? Now is the appointed time. There is no need to waste your life waiting for someone else. I am the only One who has come to give people purpose and lifeAnd it is never too late in this life to give your life to Me.

Tribunal Chairperson – Now, let me understand this. You called the last workers first in order to be paidThey had only worked for an hour. How much did you pay them?

Jesus  Yes. The last shall be first. I gave each one a denarius.

Tribunal Chairperson – I see. A full days wage. Very generous. And how much did you pay your employees who worked for the full day?

Jesus – I gave each of them a denarius also.

Tribunal Chairperson – And there’s the problem. When those hired first came to get their pay, they assumed they would receive more. But they, too, were paid a day’s wage. Some people worked only one hour, and yet you’ve paid them just as much as you paid those who worked all day in the scorching heat. Surely You see that there is discrepancy. You have been unfair with Your wages, especially to those who worked for a whole day.

Jesus  No. I agreed with those I hired first, based on my covenant of grace to give them a denarius. This was not based on the number of hours they worked but upon what I desired to give them. They agreed to serve me for a denarius. Those who came later served me for what I considered to be right.

Tribunal Chairperson – It is our contention that You need to backpay your employees who worked for 12 hours by paying them 12 denarii each. And then penalty ratesovertimeallowances, and any other entitlements. That would be fair.

Jesus  You do not know what you are asking. The denarius symbolizes eternal life. I cannot give more than eternal life. To give them what is fair would lead to their destruction. 

Tribunal Chairperson – I contend that You are being unfair.

Jesus  Yes, I am. I am offering My grace to those who trust in Me and that is entirely unfair. It is undeserved. I am here to ask You to come and serve Me also and then you will see personally that my gift of eternal life is unfair.

Today your life will be required of you and you must decide to accept what is fair from My hand which will mean you will be eternally lost or accept my denarius, that which represents that which is totally unfair and undeserved and speaks of absolute grace and eternal life

The wages of sin is death but the free gift I offer to you is eternal life. I will not require any back payments since you have been judged already by your sin, and your words, deeds and thoughts.  

Tribunal Chairperson – Are you mad? We are here to judge you! Do you think you can sit here and judge us? 

Jesus  No, your hearts have done that already. The hour is near. I came to do the work of God among you and give instruction and guide You in life and faith. You are the last of those who I have been searching for all day. I am here to give your life meaning, purpose and destiny. Will you serve Me in My Vineyard rather than try to judge Me for the grace of unfairness. Believe Me, you do not want Me to be fair. Fairness will lead you to hell. Follow Me and have the gift of eternal life in the Kingdom of Heaven.

Pastor Ross

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Risk and Reward © Image by Ross Cochrane using GetPaint. net

Matthew 19:28-29 – WHAT WILL I GET FOR FOLLOWING JESUS? Part 2 

And everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or property, for My sake, will receive a hundred times as much in return and will inherit eternal life (Matthew 19:28-29 NLT). 

Jesus says that … 

2. ETERNAL LIFE WILL ALSO BE A REWARD FOR ALL THOSE WHO HAVE GIVEN UP EVERYTHING TO FOLLOW CHRIST 

The Apostles and all followers of Christ who are willing to pay that price know that it is worth the risk, whatever they go through; a hundred times better, even in this life, but the reward of knowing Christ is multiplied beyond this in eternity.  

He’s saying that some followers of Christ may lose possessions and even families through persecution, so the sacrifice is great. The risk is great. The reward in knowing Christ and honoring Him, however, is even greater. The blessings of this earth are precious but always held in the light of seeking first the Kingdom of God (Matthew 6:33).  

When we come to Christ, we hand over everything to His rulership. Coming under His authority means everything we have is under new management. 

We know that no matter what happens in this life, we serve a sovereign God, who understands and who is working out His purposes in us and in the world, until Christ returns and this world is made new. Christ is pre-eminent for those who follow Him and life is full (John 10:10), beyond possessions and even relationships. 

The invitation of Christ is to trust in Him and the work He has done on the Cross in paying the price for our sins and then continue to serve Him. The by-product of knowing Christ and living under His rulership is great reward and life everlasting. 

In John 5:22-26 (NLT) Jesus says, “I tell you the truth, those who listen to My message and believe in God who sent Me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life.” 

John 17:3 says “And this is the way to have eternal life—to know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, the One You sent to earth.” 

Pastor Ross 

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Wave of Judgment © Image created by Ross Cochrane

Matthew 19:29 – WHAT ON EARTH IS JESUS TALKING ABOUT? Part 3

He called out to the others, urging them to catch the wave. “I can see the beach. We can maneuver away from the rocks. They were all experienced surfers. Even without surfboards, they could ride the wave in. They would survive.

The wave came, powerful and relentless. He knew that he would drown unless he could harness the energy of that wave and ride it all the way into shore, traveling in trim across its face, interacting with its power in order to be saved.

They were all too tired, weary from being in the water too long but now they were moving away from the clear line of sand. This would be their only chance. They must take it while there was still opportunity.

The wave rose above him. In perfect harmony with its rise and rhythm, He positioned himself to gain the lift and forward movement to skim across its face. He could feel the embrace of the water beginning to drag him forward and then he was racing in towards the beach.

Gripped by its sheer, enormous power he was now funneling through the water, just avoiding a wipeout by maneuvering in harmony for greater speed.

Resting on the surface of sheer force, he felt the fingers of fluid motion driving him forward in a delicately balanced roller coaster ride up and down the wave, cruising in to the shore.

He looked back for the others but none of them had followed his lead and he knew that the very wave that could have saved them had instead judged their reluctance to move by swamping them beneath the depths of the ocean. They had fought to get to the surface again but their opportunity was lost.

Jesus says, “Ride the wave with Me.” The rich young ruler refused to follow Christ. Jesus says it is impossible for a rich man to get into heaven without God’s help. Here was a young man, with his life full of potential, blessed with riches, living a good life and gifted with leadership going away sorrowful, rich and without eternal life, swamped by the very wave that could have saved him.

The world is drowning. The last wave is coming, but there is only one wave left before we go under. To refuse to ride it in to the shore and be saved is to be judged by the same wave that could save us. It’s inevitable.

John 3:35-36 (NLT) says “… anyone who believes in God’s Son has eternal life. Anyone who doesn’t obey the Son will never experience eternal life but remains under God’s angry judgment.”

Pastor Ross

 

 

 

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What on earth…? © Image by Ross Cochrane using Blender and GetPaint.net

Matthew 19:27-29 – WHAT ON EARTH IS JESUS TALKING ABOUT? Part 1

It’s interesting that one of the questions that come to our minds when we give our lives to Christ is WIIFM? (What’s in it for me?). What compensation will I receive for my sacrifice of everything? Like you can invest in sacrifice. Like following Jesus isn’t fulfillment enough.

In Matthew 19:27 the rich young ruler has just walked away with sorrow in his heart, unwilling to forsake his riches to follow Christ. Jesus tells His disciples how impossible it can be for a rich person to receive eternal life and come under the authority of God.

Peter must have thought, Well, if it is impossible for this young man, with his life ahead of him, blessed with riches, living a good life, and gifted leader to receive eternal life then what about us?” So Peter says to Jesus, “We’ve given up everything to follow You. What will we get?” (Matthew 19:27 NLT). Apparently, even for Peter, following Christ is not return enough?

One thing is always sure about Peter. He doesn’t worry too much about appropriateness. Caution and tact aren’t obvious character traits in Peter.

Is Peter being mercenary or just wanting assurance about whether he and his fellow disciples will have eternal life? Is that why Jesus holds back from rebuking Peter directly for having selfish motives?

YOU CAN INVEST IN SACRIFICE

In fact, Jesus says you can invest in sacrifice.

“Yes,” Jesus replies, “and I assure you that when the world is made new and the Son of Man sits upon His glorious throne, you who have been My followers will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 

And everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or property, for My sake, will receive a hundred times as much in return and will inherit eternal life (Matthew 19:28-29 NLT).

Wow! That was unexpected! But what kind of reward is this? Strange kind of reply. 12 disciples, 12 thrones, 12 tribes. How are the Apostles judges over the 12 tribes of Israel? Are the tribes going to be re-established? Is this a metaphorical picture or is Jesus being sarcastic or exaggerating to get a point across and if He is, what is He trying to say? Is this a future prophecy?

WHAT ON EARTH IS JESUS TALKING ABOUT?

What about the hundred times in return? In what way? The apostles would experience persecution and execution. How is this a hundred times as much return for the sacrifice they have made? Sure, eternal life afterward is more return than anyone could hope for, but what is Jesus getting at?

Some commentaries suggest that all this judging of the 12 tribes on 12 thrones happened with the early Church with the Apostles judging Israel by the inclusion of the Gentiles and ushering in the understanding of the New Covenant. Others suggest this is somehow linked to the writing of the New Testament. How they arrive at this, I don’t know. It seems to me if Jesus meant all that, He would have said it.

BUT WHAT DID HE MEAN?

I’m left with more questions than answers with this reply of Jesus. Perhaps you are too. So in the next few blogs I am on a quest to discover what on earth Jesus is talking about? I invite you to come with me. 

Pastor Ross

 

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Eye of the Needle © Image created by Ross Cochrane

Matthew 19:23-26 – KHALID, THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE, AND THE CAMELEER

“What if I am too late and the Cameleer will not see me?” Khalij the camel said absently to himself as he increased his pace. Sweat was beginning to seep through his hairy white hide but he still looked splendidly dressed for the journey and he knew he would be presentable for entrance into the city.

Was this the city and the Cameleer he was searching for? “Perhaps I am close”. Surely soon he would find rest. He felt the heavy load of the grain and valuable wares in his saddlebags as he ascended towards the city and Khalij knew he must arrive before sunset or the gates would be closed. Time was running out.

Passing many poor souls along the way who were also on a quest for entrance into the city, Khalij noticed they had scarce resources of food or water to continue their journey. A shabby, dirty looking donkey and lama approached him and begged him for food and water but he ignored their noisy requests. There was always someone who wanted his wares and although he had more than enough, he needed to hurry on. Not today. Best not to get involved.

On reaching the final approach to the gate, tired from the pace he had been keeping, Khalij saw another camel coming his way. His backpacks also were full and the colorful, intricately designed mat on his back laced with gold and indigo indicated he was of high station.

By this time he could see that the gate had been closed, and so Khalij greeted the camel and asked, “Where you not able to enter the city, brother camel?” The young camel looked down at the ground and continued on his way without a word. It was a little disconcerting to see the sadness in his eyes as he retreated down the road.

Khalij reached the locked gate and bellowed up to the walls but no-one came. Noticing a small hole in the huge gate, he looked through and was surprised to see a Cameleer approaching. Was this the Cameleer he had longed to find? “Cameleer”, he said, “I have come to see You. I have heard so much of Your city. What must I do to enter in?”

“What makes you think you are good enough to gain entrance to this holy city”, said The Cameleer.

“I assure you”, Khalij said confidently, “Since my childhood, I have been recognized as a leader among camels. As an albino camel, in all the lands where camels roam, I am considered rare and highly revered. I am dressed in the finest attire and bring with me valuable trade and items for sale.”

“But I detect that in your voice that there is still something missing from your life that brings you on your quest”, said the Cameleer.

“Yes, I am told that Your city will give me the answers concerning my destiny,” said Khalij, not giving away too much. Was this the Cameleer?

“To gain entrance you will need to come through this small door I have constructed just for you.” said the Cameleer. “You will need to follow my instructions carefully and it will be the most humbling experience of your life, but the choice is yours”.

Khalij looked as the Cameleer opened a small door. He had not noticed that this door was constructed within the larger gate.

“With all respect, I fear I shall not get through such a small door as this”, he said.

“The door was designed just for you, Khalij. I have been waiting for you. Come.”

When the Cameleer called him by name, there was something so compelling in the His voice that tentatively, Khalij began to move towards the doorway. He could see that he would need to bow down and then crawl through on his knees but the space was impossibly small; the eye of a needle. What if he were to get stuck half-way?

Bowing his head and crawling part way, he was prevented from making any further progress by his saddlebags.

Khalij said, “I cannot possibly get through without first setting down my saddlebags and then I fear my wares may be stolen by those behind me.”

“You have no need of saddlebags in My City, Khalij,” said the Cameleer. “Give your wares to the poor and come, follow Me. You will find rest and all the provisions you need for your soul.”

It was then that Khalij understood the sadness in the eyes of the rich young camel he had passed on the way. Such emptiness after so long a journey. He had gone away with riches but not rest for his soul.

Khalij thought for some time, trying to assess what would be the biggest decision of his life. He had come so far and he sensed that his quest was coming to a close. Must he also lose all for which he had worked for?

Within the deepest part of his being, he felt that somehow he could trust the Cameleer. With surprising relief, he threw off his saddlebags and began distributing his wares to the poor and hungry who gathered at the gate.

Then he faced the doorway. Once again he bowed his head and got to his knees, crawling towards the small opening. And then halfway through it happened. Suddenly he was stuck! He began to panic. Bellowing and twisting his neck, he tried to kick but his legs were pinned. In an ungainly stumbling crawl, he tried to back out and found, to his relief, it was easy. He must get out!

Khalij was almost out of the confined space that had trapped him when the Cameleer spoke softly and looked into Khalij’s eyes.“Khalij, come. Follow Me. This doorway was made for you. If you keep your eyes on Me and listen to My voice then you will enter the eternal city. I can open closed doors and make what you consider to be an impossibly small space an entrance. But the choice is yours.”

But this would take a miracle, Khalij thought. Gazing up at the Cameleer, Khalij was infused with what he could only call an irrational confidence and trust in the Cameleer. For some unknown reason, he decided to try once again. He inched his way, carefully listening to each instruction given by the Cameleer.

Inch by inch, he began to realize that it was as if this doorway was made only for him. It also occurred to him that the Cameleer was completely filling the Cameleer-sized place in his heart. It was a strange thought. “I am found in Him and He is alive in me”. Only in submitting himself to the Cameleer could progress be made. It would remind him constantly in the endless days ahead of what it meant to follow the Camelier.

“Your name was Khalij, meaning Gulf,” said the Cameleer, “because your wealth and status created a gulf between you and your relationship with Me. Now you shall be called Khalid, meaning Eternal,” said the Cameleer. “This name was always intended for you for I knew that one day you would come to Me, not without great difficulty, to find the eternal city and the door to eternal life.”

So Matthew 19:24 says “I’ll say it again—it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!” 

Pastor Ross

Related Articles

https://sharinginthelord.wordpress.com/2017/12/27/gods-my-best/

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Eternity © Ross Cochrane

Matthew 19:21 – LIFE, BE IN IT! Eternal Life and How to Receive it

She gave her life to Christ that day. She relaxed back into the hospital pillow after we had prayed and June (not her real name) knew that she had received the gift of eternal life. The very next day when I came to visit her again, I discovered that she had died.

In Matthew 19 the rich young ruler discovers that he loves riches above eternal life. In spite of this, he left Jesus in sorrow. Such a choice can never bring joy.

WHAT IS ETERNAL LIFE?

Eternal life is the life of God. When we give our lives to Christ and follow Him, He gives His life to us, and our possessions become His because we become His. Yes, He allows us to use possessions in serving Him, but all we have belongs to Him and is to be held lightly because it is temporal. The life we receive is life in Him and His life is eternal.

HOW DO WE RECEIVE ETERNAL LIFE?

If we are to receive eternal life then it will involve responding to the only love in this world that is perfect. This perfect love is found in Christ.

John 15:13 (NLT) says, “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”Jesus would prove this by dying for our sins. He was the only one able to do so.

John 3:16-18 (NLT) says, “For this is how God loved the world: He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.God sent His Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through Him.

There is no judgment against anyone who believes in Him. But anyone who does not believe in Him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son.”

Romans 10:9 (NLT) says, If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”

WHAT IS THE PREREQUISITE FOR RECEIVING THE GIFT OF ETERNAL LIFE?

Jesus tailors this message of eternal life to the rich young ruler by saying, “If you want to be perfect (complete), go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow Me.” But when the young man heard this, he went away very sad, for he had many possessions. (Matthew 19:21 NLT).

The rich young ruler is not willing to sell everything he owns to give to the poor as Jesus commands him to do. He told Jesus he loved his neighbor, but not enough to give up his riches. He realizes in this moment he is not willing to follow Jesus. He rejects Jesus authority over him and walks away in unbelief.

1 Timothy 6:9-10 (NLT) says, “But people who long to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many foolish and harmful desires that plunge them into ruin and destruction.For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil …”

WHAT TAKES FIRST PLACE IN MY LIFE?

Matthew 19:21 is not saying that Jesus asks everyone to sell everything they own to give to the poor. Jesus says to the rich young ruler and to us, in effect, “Give Me first place in your life by coming under My authority.” Doing what Jesus commands is a prerequisite for following Him. We declare that truth by being willing to surrender rulership of our lives to Him.

I yield my life to Jesus. He gives His life to me. This willingness to surrender myself to Him is called being “in Him”. In Galatians 2:20 (NLT) Paul expresses it like this, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”

In an effort to promote exercise, a television advertising slogan said, “Life, be in it!” The Life of Christ is eternal. Receiving Christ is receiving His life. His invitation is “Eternal Life, be in it!” That day, years ago, unlike the rich young ruler, June received the gift of Eternal Life. This Christmas what better gift could we receive.

Pastor Ross

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Matthew 19:16-17 –DOES KEEPING THE 10 COMMANDMENTS GUARANTEE ME A PLACE IN HEAVEN? – Part 3

She was not at all concerned that she was in a crowded open ward with some men who were speaking loudly. June wanted to know “How can I know for certain if I am going to heaven? Have I done enough?” I was able to get the men to quieten down and they were apologetic when I told them that I was her Chaplain. They listened to our conversation.

Her questions proved to be important since she died the next day. I am reminded that her questions have been asked before in Matthew 19.

Someone came to Jesus with this question: “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?”

“Why ask Me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. But to answer your question—if you want to receive eternal life, keep the commandments”

“Which ones?” the man asked. And Jesus replied: “‘You must not murder. You must not commit adultery. You must not steal. You must not testify falsely.  Honor your father and mother. Love your neighbor as yourself’” (Matthew 19:16-19 NLT).

Why did Jesus choose only these commandments? Why did He give them out of order?

WHAT CAN I LEARN ABOUT HAVING ETERNAL LIFE?

  1. DO MY GOOD DEEDS OUTWEIGH MY BAD DEEDS?

June was unsure whether she had done enough to have entrance to heaven. She wondered whether her good deeds outweighed her bad ones. I was able to dispel her misunderstanding.

June would have loved the conversation Jesus had with the rich young ruler. She responded to Jesus very differently to this young man.

A lot has been made about the specific commandments Jesus chose and the order in which Jesus quoted the commandments, but it seems to me that Jesus quotes a number of them deliberately.

This young man wants to find out the one good deed that above all others should be obeyed to guarantee that he has eternal life. If I do one really good thing, can it outweigh all other things I may have done which stand in the way of my having eternal life? Jesus doesn’t give him or us what we request. The rich young ruler is obviously off track

Instead of asking which is the one good deed he must keep to have eternal life, perhaps the rich young ruler should realize that breaking even one leaves us in need of God’s grace. James 2:10 (NLT) says “For the person who keeps all of the laws except one is as guilty as a person who has broken all of God’s laws.”

Is any one good deed better than the others? Obviously not.

Jesus chooses only those commandments that are to do with the well-being and love of our neighbors (good deeds generally). Keep all these and you’ll get what you want, He says. You’ll have eternal life.

James 2:8 (NLT) says, “Yes indeed, it is good when you obey the royal law as found in the Scriptures: “Love your neighbor as yourself”(see Leviticus 19:18).

“I’ve obeyed all these commandments,” the young man replies. “What else must I do?” (Matthew 19:20 NLT).

Has he really obeyed all these commandments? Now comes the crunch.

  1. WILL OBEDIENCE EARN YOU ETERNAL LIFE?

The rich young man knows he hasn’t murdered anyone, or committed adultery, or stolen from anyone, or testified falsely in a court of law against his neighbor, and according to the law, he has honored his mother and father. Still, he doesn’t fully interpret the true meaning of keeping these laws summed up by Jesus as, “Love your neighbor as yourself”(Matthew 19:19 NLT) and he intuitively understands that eternal life has eluded him.

His ideas on obedience in keeping the commandments seem very different to those of Jesus (read Matthew 5), but Jesus doesn’t point this out.

June, like this young man, certainly knew, as she lay in her hospital bed, that despite her good life, something was missing. And she was right.

WHAT ELSE IS NEEDED? (Find out in Part 4). The answer might surprise you.

Pastor Ross

 

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Eternity © by Ross Cochrane using Paint.net

Matthew 19:17 – TWO PREREQUISITES FOR HAVING ETERNAL LIFE THIS CHRISTMAS (Part 2)

With a worried look on her face as she sat upright in her hospital bed, June said, “How can I know for certain that I will go to heaven. Have I done enough?” How could I know that June would die the next day? June would have loved the answers that Jesus gave to the rich young ruler who came to Him with the same question about good works and eternal life but her response to Christ was so different.

“Why ask Me about what is good?” Jesus replies. “There is only One who is good. But to answer your question—if you want to receive eternal life, keep the commandments” (Matthew 19:17 NLT).

Surely Jesus is good and therefore should be able to answer his question. Why does Jesus say “Why ask Me about what is good?” Why does Jesus say, “Keep the commandments” and not “Follow Me” or “Believe in Me” first?

Jesus could have quoted the words that would eventually be written in Ephesians 2:8-9 (NLT)“God saved you by His grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.”

Jesus could have quoted words which Paul would write in Titus 3:5 (NLT)“He saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit.”

Where is His evangelical zeal? He didn’t go through the 4 spiritual laws or Evangelism Explosion points to cover the gospel and elicit a response of faith. Why did he bring up keeping the law, of all things? Jesus, what are you doing? Where is Your theology?

Then again, perhaps the 4 spiritual laws and our traditional methods are not the only way to share the gospel. What was Jesus trying to get this young man to realize? For that matter…

WHAT DO I NEED TO KNOW IF I AM TO RECEIVE ETERNAL LIFE?

As I shared with June I told her that not one of us is good enough to get to heaven by ourselves. Like Jesus, I said in effect that…

  1. NO-ONE IS GOOD BUT GOD. Romans 3:23 (NLT) says “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.” This young man was quite satisfied that he was a good man. He was arrogant enough to think that a perfect God would accept a flawed human standard of goodness. This is a common misconception.

 

Instead of saying “You are a sinner”, Jesus makes it clear to him that no-one is good but God. It amounts to the same thing.

 

If God alone is good then God alone holds the answers to receiving eternal life. It can’t be earned by us, only received by us and in a way that will not compromise the perfect character of God.

 

  1. WE RECEIVE ETERNAL LIFE. WE DON’T EARN IT. Jesus says to him, “…if you want to receive eternal life, keep the commandments”.

I told June that Eternal Life is a gift, not something we earn, work for or deserve. But what about the rich young ruler?

Jesus gives this young man an impossible task. If it were possible to keep the commandments perfectly as Jesus did, then he could receive the gift of heaven. But no-one can. He has already said “No-one is good but God.” Paul would eventually write, For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the law commands. The law simply shows us how sinful we are.(Romans 3:20 NLT).

Was Jesus helping this young man see that there was nothing he could do to receive eternal life by himself? Was He helping him to place his trust alone in a perfect God rather than his good works? Is this what He was saying to June as I spoke to her that day?

What happens next? (see part 3 for more of the story).

Pastor Ross