Posts Tagged ‘Rich young ruler’

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Risks and Rewards © Image by Ross Cochrane

Matthew 19:28-29 – WHAT WILL I GET FOR FOLLOWING JESUS? Part 1 

He was a young man, with his life full of potential, blessed with riches, living a good life and gifted with leadership. Yet he went away from Jesus still young, rich, good living and a leader, but sorrowful, … and without eternal life. Jesus says it is impossible for the rich young man to get into heaven without God’s help.  

This gets Peter wondering. The first question that comes to Peter’s mind is “What about us?” So Peter says to Jesus, “We’ve given up everything to follow You. What will we get?” (Matthew 19:27 NLT). 

Jesus answers, “… 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). 

  1. THERE WILL BE A HUNDRED-FOLD REWARD ON EARTH FOR THOSE WHO FOLLOW CHRIST 

This reward is not specified but obviously superior to any normal reward. From the story of the rich young ruler, it’s obvious that the reward for knowing Christ is not necessarily based on being rich or being influential as a leader in the community or on being young and full of potential or even on living a life based on good values. Relationship with Christ brings reward beyond these outward things of life.  

The rewards or blessings are provided by God for those who follow Christ so that we can live the life for which we were created. We are spiritual millionaires! Why live as spiritual paupers? God’s bank account is limitless, and He has given those who choose to follow Christ direct access. 

What are some of these inward rewards that God gives to those who choose to follow Christ? Here are just a few… 

  1. Peace with God. The barrier I had between God and me is entirely removed and I can experience a relationship with Him. He accepts me and I have real peace on the inside. (John 14:27) 
  2. Sins are forgiven because the penalty for my sins has been paid when Christ died on the Cross and I trusted in His sacrifice for me (Romans 4:25; Ephesians 1:7; 1 Peter 2:24). 
  3. Access to God through prayer (Romans 5:2; Ephesians 2:18; Hebrews 4:16; 10:19–20). 
  4. Becoming part of the family of God, born again (John 3:7; 1 Peter 1:23), a child of God (Romans 8:16; Galatians 3:26, John 1:12; 2 Corinthians 6:18; 1 John 3:2), a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 6:15; Ephesians 2:10). 
  5. The resources of God to live my life (2 Peter 1:3). 

2 Peter 1:3 (NLT) says, By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know Him, the one who called us to Himself by means of His marvelous glory and excellence.” 

In Philippians 4:19 (NLT) Paul says, “And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from His glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.” 

6. A secure foundation on which my life is being built (1 Corinthians 3:11; 10:4; Ephesians 2:20). 

7. God‘s love for me (Ephesians 2:4; 5:2). 

8. God‘s instruction in the Bible which teaches me how to live and make a difference in life (Titus 2:12) 

2 Timothy 3:16,17 (NLT) says, All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.” 

9. Partnering with God, serving and cooperating with Him in His work, and being His ambassador (1 Corinthians 3:9; 2 Corinthians 6:1; 2 Corinthians 3:6; 2 Corinthians 5:20; 2 Corinthians 6:4). 

10. The Holy Spirit to guide me. I am born of, baptized with, sealed by, and indwelled by the Holy Spirit (John 3:5–8; Acts 1:5; 1 Corinthians 12:13; John 7:39; Romans 5:5; 8:9; 1 Corinthians 3:16; 6:19; Galatians 4:6; 1 John 3:24; 2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 4:30). 

11. Not to mention the Fruit of the Holy Spirit which God gives to me in order to navigate the world in which He has placed me.  

Galatians 5:22-23 (NLT) says, “… the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!” 

It’s interesting that Mark adds that with all these benefits there will also be persecution of anyone who follows Christ. He mixes reward and persecution in the same sentence. Those who follow Christ are willing to pay the price. Someone said that the word “Faith” is spelled “R.I.S.K.”  

Every person has the opportunity to weigh up the risks and rewards of faith, just like the rich young ruler, but the invitation of God is always for us to give our lives to the Lord Jesus Christ and follow Him.  

There is a cost in following Christ, but the inward rewards and resources He provides while we are on this earth more than compensate, because they enable us to live the life for which we were created  

Pastor Ross 

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Under New Management © Image created with Blender and Paint.net by Ross Cochrane

Matthew 19:24-26 – WHAT DO I GIVE UP TO FOLLOW CHRIST?

Jesus tells the rich young ruler, “If you want to be perfect, go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow Me” (Matthew 19:21 NLT). 

All his possessions? Is Jesus trying to say that the idea of treasure in heaven rather than riches on earth gives me a greater perspective concerning my money? How do I define rich?

The reward of following Him is invaluable so I don’t want to get this wrong.

In Matthew 19:24 (NLT) Jesus makes an outrageous statement. He 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!”  

So, it is impossible for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven! The rich young ruler was not willing to choose between riches and following Christ. He was a good living man but eternal riches weren’t as appealing as the earthly kind.

So, no-one who follows Christ can be rich, according to Jesus? 

In Matthew 19:25, 26 (NLT) The disciples were astounded. “Then who in the world can be saved?” they asked. 

Why are the disciples astounded? Apparently, they presume that riches equate with the blessings of God and therefore it would be easier, in their way of thinking, for a rich man to be saved. A good living person like the rich young ruler seems like the perfect candidate for salvation.

Jesus looks at them intently and says, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible” (Matthew 19:26 NLT).

Finally, there’s hope for you who are rich! Jesus says it’s impossible for a rich man to be saved, but adds that with God, everything is possible. He deals with human impossibilities. It doesn’t depend on us but upon Him.

Riches should speak of possibility but they are often a liability, depending on whether you submit your life to Christ or not. Those who are in the Kingdom of God ie those who have come under the authority of Christ as King of kings, see the possibility for using riches for the purposes of God for every aspect of life. Those who are not in the Kingdom of God ie who have not come under the authority of Christ, can be consumed by the love of money for more selfish pursuits and sometimes damaging purposes, devoid of the wisdom and direction of God.

Do I have to give away everything to the poor in order to follow Christ? 

No. But when I submit everything I have to His rulership, I am willing to do all He desires with whatever there is in my life for His purposes. What He asks of me may be quite different to what He asks of you.

Coming to Christ means recognising that you have nothing to offer God. You come to him without merit. Despite outward riches and even a good life, our sin has left us destitute. We come to God with empty hands to be saved by grace.

So, the invitation of Matthew 19:24-26 is to do with the Kingdom of God, i.e. It is an invitation to come under the authority of Christ as King of kings and obey His commands concerning your riches, status, abilities and talents, gifting, experience, heart motivations, personality etc. That’s the point! That’s the invitation.  Everything I possess and all that I am is Under New Management.

Submission of everything in our lives to Christ (coming under His Kingdom authority) leaves us in a place where we can receive the grace of God and be saved. Boasting in any way that somehow we had something to do with it is not an option. It comes from Christ alone. It is based on what He has done on the Cross, not on what we bring to the table. 

What do I give up to follow Christ? Everything. It is in giving up our trust in ourselves and instead, submitting ourselves to Christ that we find the truest riches and live life to the full. 

Pastor Ross

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Eternity © By Ross Cochrane

Matthew 19:20-21 – WHAT ELSE MUST I DO TO GET TO HEAVEN? – Part 4

The day was beautiful outside but the hospital ward was dark and crowded as I spoke to June. She told me that she had lived a good life but asked how could she be certain that it would be enough to have eternal life.

In Matthew 19:21 The rich young ruler, like June, comes to discover some answers about eternal life. In his own way of thinking, the young man has kept all the commandments. He says, “I’ve obeyed all these commandments. What else must I do?(Matthew 19:20 NLT).He knows that somehow, despite keeping the commandments, he has fallen short of eternal life.

If I had been a disciple I would have interrupted this young man’s assertion and repeated parts of the Sermon on the Mount, since this rich young man does not see that even his attitudes and thoughts are important (see Matthew 5). He doesn’t understand that no-one can keep the commandments perfectly. But unlike me wanting simply to prove a point, Jesus wants to do everything possible to lead this young man to eternal life.

Mark 10:21 (NLT) says, “Looking at the man, Jesus felt genuine love for him.”

The young man is confident about his own righteousness but not about eternal life.There is an intuitive awareness that eternal life eludes him which elicited this question in the first place to Jesus.

WHAT USE ARE THE 10 COMMANDMENTS?

Paul the Apostle, also a man of authority in his life before he knew Christ, discovered the truth about the commandments when he said in Romans 7:7-12 NLT, “In fact, it was the law that showed me my sin. I would never have known that coveting is wrong if the law had not said, “You must not covet.” … the law itself is holy, and its commands are holy and right and good.”

If keeping the commandments is not enough to guarantee me a place in heaven, what else must I do?

Jesus tells him, “If you want to be perfect, go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow Me” (Matthew 19:21 NLT).

Here’s the chance for this young man to be the 13th Disciple of Jesus!

Why does Jesus say, “If you want to be perfect?”Doesn’t this contradict what He has just told the young man about only God being good? Why does He choose generosity as a means of obtaining eternal life?How is perfection based on selling possessions? Or is it the last part of his direction that is the most important –following Jesus?

1 John 3:16-20 says it well, “If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion—how can God’s love be in that person?…Our actions will show that we belong to the truth, … “

Was Jesus touching a raw nerve and knew that this rich young man could not follow Him wholeheartedly without divesting himself of that which he worshiped above eternal life – riches?

When confronted, the rich young ruler’s attitude proves to be selfish. Possessions are more important to him than following Christ.

DO I HAVE TO SELL EVERYTHING I HAVE AND GIVE IT TO THE POOR TO HAVE ETERNAL LIFE?

Is Jesus introducing a new commandment? Is selling everything I have and giving it to the poor now the criteria of eternal life? I don’t think so. Nowhere else in the Bible are we told to sell all we have in order to follow Christ.

For the rich young ruler, riches stood in the way of receiving eternal life because he chose to follow them rather than Christ. Jesus was saying, in effect, “Are you willing to allow riches to be used for My purposes as a servant in your life, rather than allowing them to rule over your life?”

WHAT TAKES FIRST PLACE IN YOUR LIFE?

The invitation Christ gives us is perhaps best expressed in these questions, “What takes first place in your life? Are you willing to give this up in order to follow Christ wholeheartedly?” The cost of authentic faith for you will be quite different to the cost of authentic faith for me. All of us repent in order to follow Christ. All of us turn away from something in order to turn toward Christ. What does that mean for you? (Continued in Part 5)

Pastor Ross

Matthew 19:16 – WHAT MUST I DO TO HAVE ETERNAL LIFE THIS CHRISTMAS? – Part 1

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Eternity, Image created by Ross Cochrane with Paint.net

“Someone came to Jesus with this question: “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” (Matthew 19:16 NLT).

She sat up in her hospital bed, clearly agitated, waiting for me. She looked so alert and clearly wanted to talk. I was not to know that she would die the next day and how important it was for her to have her questions answered.

Almost before I had greeted June (not her real name) she blurted out “How can I know for certain that I will go to heaven? Have I done enough?” June had been attending my Devotional Talks at the Aged Care Centre and I am reminded of her all these years later as I read this interview with Jesus.

WHO IS HE?

Who was this someone who comes to Jesus? Matthew tells us that he is a young man (Matthew 19: 20). Luke tells us he is a ruler (Luke 18:18) and Mark says he comes running and kneeling (Mark 10:17). All three gospels tell us that he is rich. He is obviously a leader but with a lot of respect for Jesus as a teacher. Rich, young and powerful. Is he a ruler of the synagogue?

WHAT DOES HE WANT?

The rich young ruler thinks that there is one particularly good thing above every other good deed that he can do to earn eternal life. The fact that he comes to Jesus shows he is concerned about this and respects Jesus enough to get an answer to his dilemma.

His question, unlike the Pharisees (Matthew 19:3), seems to be genuine. He is not trying to trap Jesus.

Perhaps in listening to Jesus, he has become concerned that he would not go to heaven? Like June, he asks what he must do, not realizing the real truth about how we receive eternal life depends on God, not on us. But more about this later.

WHY DOES HE COME TO JESUS? 

He is obviously a good man willing to do good works to earn eternal life, but perhaps he heard Jesus speak about the children. Jesus said, “For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children” (Matthew 19:14 NLT). How could those who were like children be closer to eternal life than this rich young ruler of the synagogue, with all his good works, and status in society?

Surely eternal life doesn’t just come to people at birth. He knows that not everyone automatically has eternal life. Children are not capable of doing good works.

Notice that what the rich man calls “eternal life” is the same thing that Jesus’ calls the “kingdom” (Matthew 19:23) and the disciples call being “saved” (Matthew 19:25).

The more he listens to Jesus, the more he is shaken in his understanding of eternal life, so he comes to Jesus to set things straight.

WHAT CAN I LEARN FROM HIM?

So what can I learn from this young man as he comes to Jesus and from June as she sat in the hospital bed that day some years ago? What can they teach me that will make a difference in my life?

1.Seek the Eternal not the temporal. They are on the right track. This young man and June believe that there is more to life than what they are experiencing. (Matthew 19:16)

2.Come to Christ with respect and openness. After you come to the Lord Jesus Christ, ask Him how you can have eternal life, but be open enough receive what He says.

3.Recognise Christ for who He is. Jesus is the only One who is able to give you the answer to any questions about eternal life. Jesus says, “… No one can come to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6 NLT). Even if you come with presumptions that are wrong, these will be sorted out by the answers you receive from Christ.

Acts 17:27 (NLT) says that “His purpose was for the nations to seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward Him and find Him—though He is not far from any one of us.” 

June, like the rich young ruler, asked her questions and we talked about the answers only Jesus could provide.

Psalm 145:18 (NLT) says “The Lord is close to all who call on Him, yes, to all who call on Him in truth.”

Isaiah 55:6 (NLT)says, “Seek the Lord while you can find Him. Call on Him now while He is near.”

Isaiah 1:18 (NLT) says, “Come now, let’s settle this,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool.”

The invitation of Matthew 19:16 and from the Bible as a whole is to come to Christ for the answers you need about eternal life during this Christmas season.

WHAT HAPPENED NEXT? (See next post)

Pastor Ross