"All Things Are Possible"
October 14, 2018
The Rev. Todd R. Goddard, pastor
East Rochester & West Walworth: Zion United Methodist Churches
Mark 10:17-31 (http://bible.oremus.org/?ql=406368106)
I’m not getting in.
You’re not getting in, either.
It’s easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle
For someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God,
Just as Jesus proclaims,
Like the original disciples,
We are doomed.
Everyone go home.
Last one out, turn out the lights and lock the doors.
Scaring potential disciples away with a message of impossibility
Wouldn’t make Jesus a good United Methodist.
When approaching the Gospel of Mark
The best strategy is complete honesty.
The Gospel cannot be managed,
Despite the fact that
This is our first inclination.
Here is a sample of some of the classic attempts at managing Jesus,
Most often employed by
Snake oil preachers
Slinging a prosperity gospel:
· The rich man became rich because he followed the law, therefore, follow the law and get rich
· Nobody can actually keep the law, therefore, nobody can give up everything, either
· Giving up everything was a command only to this man, not to us
· This command only applies to the rich, and we all can think of someone more wealthy than we are
· Give it up, but know that God intends to reward you a hundred-fold later
Some would call this “weasel exegesis.”
Others would call this “hermeneutical contortions.”
I’ll simply call it “dishonest.”
Don’t manage the Gospel
No mater how painful it might bite.
Just own it.
“Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” (10:17)
The problem is in the question.
The man’s question implies that there is something he can do
To inherit eternal life.
If there was something he could do
Everyone would be doing it,
And we wouldn’t need Jesus.
There is nothing he could do.
Likewise, there is nothing we can do
To inherit eternal life.
The only means to inherit eternal life
Is to believe in the saving action of Jesus –
Being resurrected from the dead.
The Gospel truth can be found in our Lord’s response.
Jesus response is based on the man calling him Good Teacher.
Only God is good, Jesus points out.
Humankind is stained with temptation and sin.
We are a broken people when measured up to the law.
Everyone fails, no exceptions.
Point One: Only God is good.
Jesus looked at him and loved him.
In fact, this is the only person in the Gospel of Mark
Who is identified as one whom Jesus loved.
Jesus loved the one who walked away.
We don’t know what happens to him,
For we never hear from him again.
It doesn’t mean
He doesn’t make his way back into the life of Jesus.
Quite frankly, I believe he would have,
Perhaps as one at the foot of the cross,
As one who looked in the empty tomb,
Or as one of 3,000 baptized by Peter
In the second chapter of Acts. (Acts 2:41)
One way or another,
This man would find himself before Jesus once again.
Standing before the eternal judge,
Jesus still loved him.
Jesus loved him enough to die for him.
Jesus loved him enough to win victory over the grave for him.
Point Two: Jesus loves even those who walk away.
“You lack one thing,” Jesus tells him.
The one thing wasn’t rigid righteousness following the Ten Commandments.
One thing was lacking.
“Go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor.” (10:21)
This was the ONE THING:
Place the needs of the poor before your own needs.
If a neighbor is hungry and you’ve got food;
If a neighbor can’t afford to fix a hole in their roof;
Pay for it!
If neighbors are poor because of systemic injustice;
If our neighbors are poor;
Loving our neighbor is a higher priority than our wealth and accumulations.
Let’s get our priorities straight, Jesus is telling us.
Are we content with the presence of poverty
To the extent that
We are willing to walk away from Jesus?
I’m not; and I don’t think you are, either.
Point Three: The needs of the poor, the last in this world, are a priority over mine.
Of course, it’s impossible for a camel to go through the eye of a needle.
Just as it impossible for any of us to do anything to enter the kingdom of God.
Good works isn’t an entry pass.
However, this is God’s kingdom and God makes the rules.
If God wants you in the kingdom, you’re in,
“for God all things are possible.” (10:27)
Know this to be true:
Throughout history and throughout scripture,
God has demonstrated time and time again,
That God wants you in his kingdom.
God longs for you.
God desires a relationship with you.
“God so loved the world.”
“God sent his only beloved Son.”
“God doesn’t want the world condemned.”
“God wants the world to be saved.” (John 3:16-17)
Point Four: God loves you and wants you in God’s eternal kingdom.
Jesus carefully observes that “for God all things are possible.” (10:27)
He doesn’t say that all our petitions will be granted.
That would relegate God to the status of a dog fetching a stick.
We are no master.
God is the master,
And the sooner we learn our place in the God / human relationship,
The sooner we can come to peace with suffering and evil.
The cosmos and all that is in it are God’s own creation.
Thankfully, our God is loving and generous.
Point Five: God is capable of all things and acts according to God’s own plan.
It’s almost as if Peter is whining;
Because he is.
It would be great to hear a recording of his complaint!
“Look, we have left everything and followed you.” (10:28)
When Jesus begins with “Truly I tell you,”
The TRULY means it’s the honest truth
What he’s about to say.
Sacrifice family or vocation
For the sake of Jesus or
For the sake of the Good News
And your needs will be taken care of …
… in abundance.
Even our desire for eternal life will be satisfied.
Jesus makes a promise;
Our response is simply to take him at his word.
That’s called faith.
Point Six: Have faith; Jesus will support us and Jesus will save us.
There you have it;
The honest, unmanaged truth about the Gospel.
Only God is good;
Even still, do your best to follow God’s laws
And know that only God can save us.
Jesus loves even those who walk away;
And so should we, too.
Our love for another this day
May become a seed that takes root and bears fruit some day in the future.
Place the needs of the world,
Specifically, the needs of the poor,
Before our needs.
Serve, without the expectation of being served in return.
God loves you
And is looking forward to spending an eternity with you.
God is capable of all things.
God always acts in God’s historical interest;
His love for creation and humankind.
Therefore, expect great things!
Place your faith in Jesus.
You are loved.
In the end, there will be no end.
Your table will overflow.
All will be abundantly satisfied.
Everything will be okay.
This is God’s kingdom.
We are members of it.
And it goes on forever.