Scripture: “And behold, a man came up to him, saying, ‘Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?’ And (Jesus) said to him, ‘Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.’” Matt 19:16-17
Observation: Isn’t that just like people? Trying to reduce heaven to a calculation of what can be gotten away with? “Eternal life” isn’t a medal to be awarded for valiant behavior…
Application: Matthew 19 seems to be a bunch of little snippets of handing around Jesus.
Reading this a few times I think I see that the Man is not getting any rest at all—everywhere He goes crowds follow. Big crowds, little crowds—and He is handling it all with exemplarily patience. The only clue of Jesus being testy in any way comes from this interaction.
“Excuse me, Teacher: I have a question.
“I do pretty good generally speaking but—what is the “One Big Thing” I need to do to go to heaven?”
“Really? You are asking me this?”
I can read this and maybe imagine a tinge of irritation in the narrative by Jesus. However, he answers the fellow succinctly: “Follow all the commandments.” “I have since I was a little tyke.” “Ok, tell you what—sell all you have and follow me…”
Oops—that isn’t what he wanted to hear.
Do I think I can act good enough to DESERVE eternal life? That has been the question ever since the serpent slithered a doubt in Eve’s ear and Adam’s fateful decision—I want to DESERVE eternal life all by myself with my own measurement of needed Grace—to convince God I deserve mercy by my actions.
The most difficult obstacle that Man has to overcome is the understanding that compared to God’s Holiness there isn’t a single micron of good that Man has that has merciful appeal—“No one does good, no, not even one.” (Ro 3:12)
What about this guy? He says that he has kept all the Commandments from his youth. Really? I don’t have to think, observe, look in the mirror far to say “Yeah, right—I believe that.” I can’t go a morning without breaking a commandment somehow, someway. No one can.
It is very fair to say about Mankind that, considering God’s Holiness, without a change Mankind does not deserve heaven. In fact, according to God’s Justice, the resulting destination of Man can only be hell. Them’s the facts.
Do I need to understand that Jesus bled and died to pay for my sin, to be the payment of God’s justice that I deserve? Do need to understand that I do not DESERVE mercy?
God gives me mercy, not because I deserve it (which I don’t) but because of His mysterious love for me.
Prayer: Every time I review any part of the Gospel, Lord, I am stricken with awe. “Why would you the Pure give your life for the vile, the Innocent seeking the guilty to be reconciled?
I can’t comprehend this fathomless love, I ‘m gripped and amazed at what You have done. What would the Adored become the despised, to bear all the furious Wrath that was mine?” AMEN and AMEN, O God. AMEN.