Wednesday, September 18, 2013
Luke 18:18-23, from the King James Version, is my text for today:
And a certain ruler asked him, saying, Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?
I was reading a book by an atheist and this story is one she used as an example as to why Jesus could not have been the Messiah. Let’s look at what she thought was wrong with this picture:
And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? none is good, save one, that is, God.
Our atheist states that Jesus denies being good. The Messiah must be good, therefore Jesus cannot be the Christ. Along with that denial, she determined that since the answer said to her that He was not good, He could not be God. Sorry – that does not compute. There is no denial, there is a question, “Why callest thou me good?”
To me, the young man’s lack of answer is sufficient to let us know the term of address was without meaning. Jesus knew that the ruler was not referring to Him as being good -- the salutation was perfunctory. The ruler did not know whether Jesus was good or not. Jesus let him know that only God was good. If this ruler accepted Jesus as Christ, as God, the story could have been different.
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.
These commandments have to do with our relationship with our fellow men. Jesus skipped over the first four commandments and "thou shalt not covet", which tells me He knew where the trouble was.
And he said, All these have I kept from my youth up.
Raised to do right from childhood, he kept the commandments. He lived as he was told to live – yet he came to this teacher, this man being followed by thousands, with the question his belief in the law could not answer, “what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”
What did he doubt? The law itself? Or, was he looking for an opportunity for this teacher to confirm that he had eternal life? Our atheist took Jesus to task for the answer, too:
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.
Our atheist found this answer to be flippant, inconsistent with Jesus answer to others. Why, when Nicodemus came, Jesus sat down with him and had a serious discussion about salvation. This answer could not possibly be a satisfactory answer, and apparently wasn’t.
And when he heard this, he was very sorrowful: for he was very rich.
It didn’t satisfy Jesus’ disciples, either:
And they that heard it said, Who then can be saved? (Luke 18:26 KJV)
Don’t stop reading there. The lesson continues. Verses 18-23 are not stand alone and must be taken in context, with full knowledge of Jesus, His ministry and the verses that followed – including Peter’s statement, that probably was a question about their following:
Then Peter said, Lo, we have left all, and followed thee. And he said unto them, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or parents, or brethren, or wife, or children, for the kingdom of God's sake, Who shall not receive manifold more in this present time, and in the world to come life everlasting. (Luke 18:28-30 KJV)
The rich young ruler had earthly treasure he valued much more than the question about eternal life. Do we? Are we willing to do with less here while gaining more there? Or, do we not trust there will be more there?