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Trust Jesus Only? Yes, That’s Right!

October 14, 2012

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Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost                                                        Trinity Lutheran Church

14 October 2012                                                                                 Murdock, NE


St. Mark 10:17-22


A seeker!  He comes to Jesus!  Can’t get any easier than that!  He even calls Jesus “good.”  Double bonus round!  He’s a man of moral integrity too.  Triple bonus round! He’s no Jerry Sandusky let alone a John Travolta!  He’s a hard worker.   Earned his money and property without stealing from others or defrauding them.  Speaks well of people.  Honors Dad and Mom and other authorities.  Doesn’t sleep around!  He’s squeaky clean.  We’d love to have this guy in our congregation!  Parents, you’d be delighted to have your daughter bring this hard working and clean-cut guy home for Thanksgiving!  Sure, he’s no Justin Bieber!  And he’s certainly not a Zac Efron or a Robert Pattinson!  But beggars can’t be choosers!  Can they ladies?  When it comes to eye candy he’s not that bad!   


Then comes quadruple bonus round!  He’s quite religious too! Takes the Ten Commandments seriously.  Been that way all his life.  He’s a doer.  Talks the talk but he also walks the walk.  Let’s make him a member of Trinity pronto!  In fact, let’s let give him the pulpit at once!  He’d probably be a better preacher than the one you’ve got — being so religious and all!      


Now it’s time for this wonderful, delightful, hunk of a young man, to put the finishing touches on his eternal welfare.  Got everything right with others.  Now it’s time to make sure that he and the Big Man Upstairs are OK.  Or that the Man Upstairs is OK with him.  And so this easy on the eyes of a young man asks Jesus the salvation question.  “What must I DO to inherit eternal life?” 


Wow!  Who’s doing the verb in his salvation question?  “What must I DO?”  With the question he insists on being the big cheese.  As if he’s in the salvation driver’s seat.  He seems to be a salvation control freak.  He’ll do it.  “Just tell me what to do Jesus!  And I’ll do it!  I can do it!  Give me the principles!  What must I DO?  Tell me!  Hurry up!  I’m waiting!  I’m a mover and a shaker!  I make conglomerate business deals!  I get things done! In fact, I’m just about ready to close a blockbuster deal with the Roman Colosseum big wigs trying to buy lions, elephants, pythons, and baboons from North African merchants for the circuses at Rome!  So speak up Jesus!  What must I DO to inherit eternal life?   I’ll get right to it and I’ll leave you alone so that you can do your helpful ministry.  Thank you for your time!” 


He’s blind to the fact that eternal life is a gift.  Eternal life is an inheritance – therefore it is a gift.  But he insists:  “Good Jesus, what must I DO to inherit eternal life?”  He’s bullish.  Obstinate!  He’s a do-it-yourself kind of guy!  Even when it comes to salvation! 


Jesus goes to the heart of his do-it-yourself religion.   Jesus says:  “I’m here to help you son.  Your religiosity is quite impressive!  However, your über-spirituality lacks something.  Here’s what it is.  Sell all your stuff.  All of it.  Liquidate all your assets and bank accounts.  Turn it all into cash!  Add it all up.  What is the total?  Thousands?  Millions?  Impressive.  Now,  give it all to the poor.  Sure, you won’t have all your stuff but you’ll have heavenly treasure / eternal life by trusting in Me.  Learn a new spirituality! Learn a new religion!   I’m the Giver.  You are the receiver.” 


“I’ll take care of you.  Not only now but forever.  I promise.  One of these nights, a Passover night, a night when I’m betrayed, I’ll hand out my last will and testament.  I’ll spell it out this way.  Bread and wine.  With the bread My Body.  With the cup of wine My Blood.  The new testament in My Blood. All for you.  All sin forgiven.  Pure gift.  No strings attached.  In order to put my last will and testament into effect I will die on a Friday afternoon that my disciples will call ‘Good.’”


“When it comes to the salvation job young man, here’s the deal:   I’m the only game in town!  I’m the only ticket you need for heaven!  The salvation verbs belong to Me!  They are my doing!  I achieve salvation.  For all!   I will say when IT IS FINISHED. And I will dish out all of salvation’s benefits.  I am the Lord your God!  The eternal life inheritance is my gift to you.  It’s standing right before your very eyes!  So, come along!  Follow Me!  Be given to exclusively by Me!  I’ll take care of you!  Now and forever!”  


And the hunk of a young jumps at the PROMISE OF SALVATION that Jesus just gave!  Right?  Nope!  His jaw hits the ground!  His eyes look down at the dirt.  And he turns and walks away! 


He won’t be given to by Jesus!  Jesus won’t let him do anything to get eternal life.  That’s a complete let down and turn off for a dyed in the wool salvation activist.  He was all hyped up about doing the salvation job himself.  Even enlisted “good” Jesus’ advice.  “Sell everything, give it all to the poor, and then trust Jesus?  Lose everything?  Lose my life?  No way!  Not a snowball’s chance in . . . !” 


He trusted his stuff.  He feared, loved, and trusted in his wealth and possessions but not Jesus.  If he unloads all his stuff . . . well . . . he just can’t take that chance.  Won’t trust Jesus alone!  Sola!  Can’t.  Even if he ends up with that snowball in . . .    


What about you?  Are you ready to walk away from Jesus today?  He’s here!  Right before your very eyes in His Word and Sacrament!  With the whole enchilada of salvation!  As pure gift! 


What do you fear, love, and trust above Jesus?  What hinders you from trusting Jesus’ promise to take care of everything both now and forever?  What idol forbids you from following Jesus?  From receiving gifts from Him?  Is it property?  Wealth?  Or something else? 


Whatever the idol is it will crack and break under the pressure you put on it.  Your idol can’t handle all your fears.  Your concerns.  Your guilt.  Your sin.  Your eternal life salvation.  Oh yes, the idol promises you heaven.  But it can only deliver hell.  It promises life but it can only bestow death.  It claims to be your god but it lies. 


Jesus doesn’t.  He tells the truth.  He is the Way, the TRUTH and the Life.  “I am the Lord your God.”  That’s His promise.  He gives Himself entirely for you.  With all that He is and all that He has.  Reconciles you to the Father with His Blood.  The Father is not angry with you.  He does not hate you.  He loves you for Christ’s sake.  Forgives you for Christ’s sake.  Gives you eternal life for Christ’s sake.


You are saved in Christ.  He is your Lord. 


You don’t have to sell everything and give it to the poor.  That was Jesus’ way of dealing with that particular hunk of a religious young man that you don’t want your daughter to bring home now for Thanksgiving dinner!  But in Jesus and His promise of salvation as gift to you — you are free to use your property, wealth, or possessions in service to other people in need. 


And who’s that?  Well, that’s your family, your congregation, your community, your country, and the world.  What you have is all from the Lord.  He gives you all your stuff not to turn it into an idol.  But to use it all as gifts for others! 


Died for by the Lord Jesus, you are His instruments to use all your worldly wealth and whatever stuff He’s given you in order to help those in need and those who are helpless.  And as you use your wealth or whatever to help your neighbor you do it to Jesus.  “Whatever you do to the least of these my brothers you have done it unto me,” (Matthew 25:40)!


Happy following Him!  He will take good care of you!  In fact, He already has!  And always will!  Good Friday!  Easter Sunday!  Your Baptism!  Holy Absolution!  His Holy Supper!  Eternal life!  Even now and then revealed on the Last Day for our eyes to see and our bodies to experience in the glory of the resurrection! 


In the Name of Jesus

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