We are in the Christ Stream today in the book of Matthew. How does one enter the kingdom of heaven? Jesus explains in today’s reading. We are using the Tree of Life Version this week which refers to Jesus as Yeshua.
The disciples ask Jesus, “Who is the Greatest?” Pause and think about why they would ask that question. Their hearts are not in the right place yet. Jesus uses a little child for his next teaching and then uses some rather gory words to prove a few stern points for those struggling with sin: sinning is not one of our options anymore – nor is exalting ourselves, misleading others – all of that is not to happen. Jesus is laying out a new ethic that will change the face of all society.
His teaching on forgiveness ends all arguments. This put into today’$ term$ He is comparing our sins against God alongside our sins against one another. Simply put God has forgiven us a several billion dollar debt and we turn to our neighbor and throttle his neck because he owes us $10K. He is illustrating for us the senselessness of being unforgiving people who always keep tabs and are ugly about it. Jesus’ words have taken hold here as much of the world refers to Christians as “the nice people”. It’s really true. Those that travel, see this. Where there is Christendom, entire regions become more civil.
As he leaves Galilee and heads south and east across the Jordan River, the Pharisees press him for an answer about divorce. [Btw, these “leaders” allowed themselves to divorce for whimsical reasons] Jesus asserts what He says for the greater reason that societies who follow him are to be marked by steadfastness, faithfulness, stability, and caring – not “musical mates”, “wife-swapping”, destroyed souls, and the treachery that comes with this territory. Jesus does not require divorce in the one instance here, it is allowed. Some like to tell themselves they are being biblical when they are divorcing – they are not. It is allowed
for infidelity. It is interesting how this divorce issue is adjacent to Jesus talking about forgiveness. Forgiveness can salve over even the worst of divorce scenarios. Again, Jesus insists that we followers of Him be leading the way in having forgiving hearts
Little Children are again the backdrop of the next lesson. Eventually the disciples will be going throughout the world and they will be vilified and treated brutally by enemies of the faith – remain like little children. They would be fawned over as they administer salvation from an apostolic position – remain like little children. They will be given tremendous power in the Holy Spirit – again they are to remain like little children.
The Rich Young Ruler is a story that Jesus teaches within to tell us that Jesus is to be our priority. He is to affect and overshadow everything for all of us for all of our lives. This ruler had what this world craves. He had money, time, and power. He wanted to add Jesus to his arsenal so he would have religious prowess too. ?Would Jesus be in charge in that man’s life? or would he/himself? Jesus’ request to him and the young man’s sulking response proves the man’s agenda: self-rule. Some think they can’t follow Jesus claiming Jesus will take all their money away. Nonsense – Jesus will probably up your assets throughout life and thus give you more to be gracious with and toward. Remember Zacchaeus offered to give back half of the quadruple he had stolen all his life and would pay back four times what he had taken from the poor. Jesus was pleased with him. But here he tells the rich young ruler what he is to do and this man is not pleased with Jesus. When Jesus tells him he must obey the commandments, he makes another comment that again, gives himself away. “Which ones?” Uh, the commandments are not a buffet table where we pick and choose. GOD is in charge (the RYR’s problem all along). When someone asks us to be kind to their family members, would we ever dare reply, “which ones?” ? It’s a dead giveaway that we do not plan on coming under someone else’s authority. So he goes away sad. Ad Jesus does not chase after him in hopes that he would restructure his demands so that Jesus does not come across so harsh. Think of this guy compared to the 12 who had no formal training, tacky manners and ruffian resumes~. Perhaps Jesus could built a bigger better base with this man on board if he could have honored his postition and been more accomodating. Perhaps Jesus could have reached across and met him in the middle….? No, Jesus wants yielded hearts. He can handle everything from there.
“Jesus, help us always to ‘bring it home’ to you; your plans, your ways, your ideas for our lives. You have so much more and better for us than we do. We are in this world, but may we be born of you and owned by you. Thank you for bringing us this far. Thank you for assuring us that you will bring us into what you have destined for us. Amen.”