Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Rich Men

Their stories are just a chapter apart, but I hadn’t noticed that, even reading through the Bible. A few words, short physical difference, similarities, vastly different outcomes. We meet the first one:

And a certain ruler asked him, saying, Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? (Luke 18:18)

Then, the second:

And, behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus, which was the chief among the publicans, and he was rich. And he sought to see Jesus who he was; and could not for the press, because he was little of stature. (Luke 19:2-3)

The first one was able to get close to Jesus, the second could only see Him from a distance. The first asked his question, and received the answer he expected:

Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother. And he said, All these have I kept from my youth up. (Luke 18:20-21)

Which do we like better, hearing sermons where our actions are praiseworthy – or ones that tell us we have either failed or we should be doing better? I would suspect that his ruler was feeling pretty good at this point, having accomplished what Jesus described.

The rest of the story didn’t go so well:

Now when Jesus heard these things, he said unto him, Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me. And when he heard this, he was very sorrowful: for he was very rich. (Luke 18:22-23)

Instead of condemning the ruler, Jesus stated truth:

And when Jesus saw that he was very sorrowful, he said, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God! For it is easier for a camel to go through a needle's eye, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. (Luke 18:24-25)

Poorer people have used this as a pejorative against richer, without realizing that it is difficult for everyone to enter into the kingdom of God – riches are only one hard item. There are many others. Jesus not only tells us:

And he said, The things which are impossible with men are possible with God. (Luke 18:27)

He goes to Jericho and shows how it’s done. Zacchaeus not only invited Jesus in, he received Him joyfully and basically did what Jesus asked the ruler to do:

And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord; Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold. (Luke 19:8)

One man walked away, unable to leave riches. The other gave riches away and received salvation:

And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham. (Luke 19:9)

Jesus' message has not changed, nor has His purpose:

For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost. (Luke 19:10)

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you for taking time to read and comment on the blog. Comments should take into consideration this verse: Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. (Philippians 4:8 KJV)