HYMN A Rich young man came to ask of Christ
1 A rich young man came to ask of Christ:
‘Good teacher, will you tell me,
what must I do for eternal life?
I’ve kept your laws completely.’
‘Sell all you have, give to the poor,
then heaven’s treasure shall be yours.’
How hard for those who are rich on earth
to gain the wealth of heaven.
2 Now Jesus sat by the offering gate
as people brought their money:
The rich they filled the collection plate;
the widow gave a penny.
‘Now she’s out–given all the rest –
her gift was all that she possessed.’
Not what you give but what you keep
is what the king is counting.
3 O teach me Lord to walk this road,
the road of simple living;
to be content with what I own
and generous in giving.
And when I cling to what I have
please wrest it quickly from my grasp;
I’d rather lose all the things of earth
to gain the things of heaven.
Stuart Townend (born 1974) and Keith Getty (born 1963)
READING Matthew 19:16-30
16 Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”
17 “Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.”
18 “Which ones?” he inquired.
Jesus replied, “‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, 19 honor your father and mother,’ and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’”
20 “All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?”
21 Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
22 When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.
23 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I tell you, 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.”
25 When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, “Who then can be saved?”
26 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
27 Peter answered him, “We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?”
28 Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life. 30 But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.
SERMON THE RICH YOUNG MAN
JESUS – FULL OF SURPRISES. Do you like surprises ? Well, there are some you like and some you don’t – If I pulled out a case of bars of chocolate and gave you all a handful – bring them all wrapped up to your house – that would be a surprise you would like, eh ? But if I said this evening’s service would last for SIX HOURS – that would be a surprise which might not be so good ! Jesus was always full of surprises. He didn’t tell the man simply to believe in Him. That wouldn’t have worked – Jesus needed to make this young man see what the real problem was in his life. Jesus said – IF YOU WANT TO ENTER LIFE – OBEY THE COMMANDMENTS.
But we know that Paul says in Romans 3:20 NO-ONE will get to heaven by keeping the rules – RATHER – when we look at the Bible, we realise that we are sinners ! Had this young man really looked at his Bible, he would have seen that he was FAR from perfect. BUT NO – the man tells Jesus that he has kept the commandments. Jesus spelled out 5 of the last 6 commandments – and the man insists that he has kept them. What is interesting is the 5 commandments which Jesus left OUT – the first 4 are about our relationship WITH GOD – and the last one is about being jealous of what other people have! I suppose Jesus could have summed up his reply in one sentence (Lev 19:18) LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOUR AS YOURSELF. DID this man REALLY LOVE his neighbour as himself? We’ll see soon ! But the man comes back to Jesus – listen I’ve been a really good person (Just like Paul had been – Phil.3:6) – very keen to be good – BUT STILL SOMETHING WAS MISSING. I’m still not saved. WHAT MORE MUST I DO ? Then Jesus looked at him. Jesus loved him very much, but Jesus finally showed the man what was wrong with him. The man loved his money and his things , more than he could ever love Jesus – so Jesus said to him – go and sell your things and give the money to the poor – THEN come and follow me.
Only One Way
So, what is the answer then ? Where will you find the key which lets you into heaven ? Is it in giving everything you have to the poor ? NO – that was simply to let the man see that he wasn’t ready to become a follower yet – the man realised in his own heart that he was not prepared.
You will remember that Paul said ( IF YOU KEEP ALL THE LAW AND STUMBLE AT JUST ONE POINT. YOU ARE GUILTY OF BREAKING ALL OF IT.) Others have been asked to make sacrifices for God – you will know that Abraham was asked to sacrifice his only son for God. When Abraham showed willing, God stepped in and provided a lamb – the boy was safe with God.
But it illustrates to us again, that God is full of surprises. Are you prepared to be surprised by God this evening ? I suspect that many of you are near the Kingdom – just like the young man in today’s passage. But you can be so near and yet so FAR – as was he!
You see, the story tells us that the man WENT AWAY SAD. And I’m sure Jesus was sad also ! There was a point in Jesus’ ministry when many people realised how costly it was to be a follower of Jesus, and they stopped following Him (for many today – secondary school is the testing time ) Jesus turned to His friends, the disciples , and said WILL YOU LEAVE ME TOO ? And the answer came back TO WHOM CAN WE GO? YOU HAVE THE WORDS OF ETERNAL LIFE ? The disciples had learned that the only way to real happiness was to give their whole lives to Jesus. Jesus was the ONLY ONE Who could put a smile on their faces and in their hearts.
But, even the disciples were amazed that Jesus let the rich man go ! Surely God had been good to this man in giving him such wealth – surely this must have been a good man? ! And if HE couldn’t get into heaven – then WHO COULD ? ! Jesus then told the disciples that it was hard for a rich man to become a true follower of His.
It is not impossible – and there are a number of wealthy men in the Bible who DID follow God – but it is HARD for them. Indeed, you might say it is hard for ANYONE to become a Christian – for NONE of us wants to give up our lives – indeed WE CANNOT! So, what can the answer be’? What is IMPOSSIBLE for US – is POSSIBLE FOR GOD.
None of us chooses to become a Christian and then goes and does it ! God reaches down to US and draws us into His family – the work of saving people is entirely HIS work. God is full of surprises – and even heaven itself will be full of surprises. John Wesley was once asked if he expected to find any surprising people in heaven – and he replied that the biggest surprise would be to find himself there ! He fully believed God would bring Him HOME TO HEAVEN – but it would be a source of constant amazement to him! HOW CAN WE BE GOOD ? HOW CAN WE GET TO HEAVEN? You will know the story of Irishman – St. Peter at the Gates New points system to get in All the prayers for all God’s work Regular attender at Church All my money to the Church & good causes …THE ONLY WAY YOU’LL GET IN HERE IS BY GOD’S KINDNESS !
Hymn Take my life and let it be
1 Take my life and let it be
consecrated, Lord, to thee;
take my moments and my days,
let them flow in ceaseless praise.
Take my hands and let them move
at the impulse of thy love;
take my feet and let them be
swift and beautiful for thee.
2 Take my voice and let it sing
always, only, for my King;
take my lips and let them be
filled with messages from thee.
Take my silver and my gold,
nothing from thee would I withhold;
take my intellect and use
ev’ry pow’r as thou would choose.
3 Take my will and make it thine:
It shall be no longer mine;
take my heart: It is thine own;
it shall be thy royal throne.
Take my love; my Lord, I pour
at thy feet its treasure store;
take myself and I will be
ever, only, all for thee.
Frances R Havergal (1836-1879)