For our next look into the week before Holy week, we go to Matthew 19:13-20:16. Again, I am not going to go through everything here, just the highlights I see that it would be wise to take notice of.
Matt: 13 Then were there brought unto him little children, that he should put his hands on them, and pray: and the disciples rebuked them. 14 But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. 15 And he laid his hands on them, and departed thence.
I find it odd that the disciples rebuked the children here. In just the previous chapter, we see Jesus telling the disciples that it would be better for them to tie a millstone around there neck and be thrown into the sea than to offend a child. And here they go, offending the children. Amazing! But Jesus let’s it ride and blesses the children, as they represent the kingdom in their love for Him and faith in Him.
It is a sad commentary on our society how we have let our children be brought up by video games, TV’s and computers. Our schools are passing kids through without a complete education, and they have virtually become the parents in many cases. But they cannot discipline them, and parents are afraid to discipline them because hey could have DHS breathing down their neck. So many of our kids feel unloved because no one really shows them the love and nurturing they need. Hey, I’ve been there, and I am so glad that my kids have come around and are now serving the Lord. I wondered for a long time with them. I pray daily for the tide to turn, and a revival break out in our young people. Children are the future, and if we have to depend on the schools to shape them, we are all in trouble.
Next is the parable of the Rich young ruler (Matt 19:18-23), who came to Jesus asking what he had to do to inherit eternal life. I am not going to put the text here because I think most of us are familiar with the story. He says he has kept all the commandments, so Jesus asks him to do one more thing – sell all he has and give it to the poor, then follow Him. The rich young ruler cannot part with his goods and walks off. It’s a simple message. Is there anything coming between you and following Jesus wholeheartedly? It may not be possessions on your part. Maybe it’s work, or relationships, or leisure, or some sinful tendency that you just want to hold onto, that is keeping you back from giving your all to live out the words of Christ. Whatever it is, Jesus is asking all of us to give it up and give Him our all. Nothing less will do. There is no place for lukewarm Christians (Rev 3:16)
Matt 23 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. 24 And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. 25 When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved? 26 But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.
I have heard this analogy explained this way. The eye of the needle is a very small doorway through the outer walls of the city. This doorway (remember the walls are 10 feet thick) gets narrower and shorter as you progress through the wall. For a camel to go through the eye of the needle, it would have to have all of it’s burdens taken off and get down on it’s knees to crawl through slowly. The disciples realize this is almost an impossible task, but Jesus reminds them that God can do the impossible.
But is this not an appropriate way for us to come to Jesus ourselves, rich or poor? We must lay all our burdens down, and humbly bow before His throne to be accepted by Him. This thought that we can just meander up to the God of all creation, say a quick I’m sorry and go skipping away is a farce. We must come to Him humbly on our knees, begging His forgiveness for our sins. If tears are not involved, I question whether you gave your all in that transaction. Not that feelings are what we go by, but that we are deeply grieved by the sin in our life, and we realize we are asking the King of all Kings for forgiveness, the one who died for us. The one who rules all of heaven and earth. It is an awesome thing, the mercy of our Savior. Never take it for granted.
Our last story for today is found in Matt 20:1-16. To briefly summarize, a master hires people at the beginning of the day for a penny to work the whole day and they are thrilled to accept it. Then he hired more people middle of the day for the same, and finally some people just an hour before the end of the day and pays them the same. Of course, now the people who were hired first are expecting to be paid more, and are disappointed when they are not. Wouldn’t you?
The point I see here is that we should not expect any more just because we have been serving longer. I have held many jobs, but the one that was most rewarding was with a printing and office supply company for 20 years. I loved hiring sales people who ended up making more money than I did. That was my success as well. I was being paid what I was promised. But even more then that, are we ever jealous of someone who rises up in the church faster than us, or who takes over a job we have had for many years because they show a talent in that area? It is imperative that we do not take offense – Jesus is once again talking about that, as He did in the whole last chapter. This is a central part of His teaching leading up to Holy Week, and we will see why as we venture on further.
Come back tomorrow and we’ll talk about Lazarus and his family!