Saturday, November 28, 2009

11/28/09 Luke 18:15-30 The kingdom's opening

(Jesus welcomes the children- Carl Bloch)

Devotional using scripture, quote from John Calvin and thoughts for the day each day- on the 500th anniversary of Calvin's birth.

Luke 18:15-30 (MATTHEW 19:13-15; MARK 10:13-16)
15 People were also bringing babies to Jesus for him to place his hands on them. When the disciples saw this, they rebuked them. 16 But Jesus called the children to him and said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 17 Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it." 18 A certain ruler asked him, "Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?" 19 "Why do you call me good?" Jesus answered. "No one is good—except God alone. 20 You know the commandments: 'You shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.'" 21 "All these I have kept since I was a boy," he said. 22 When Jesus heard this, he said to him, "You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me." 23 When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was very wealthy. 24 Jesus looked at him and said, "How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! 25 Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for the rich to enter the kingdom of God." 26 Those who heard this asked, "Who then can be saved?" 27 Jesus replied, "What is impossible with human beings is possible with God." 28 Peter said to him, "We have left all we had to follow you!" 29 "Truly I tell you," Jesus said to them, "no one who has left home or wife or brothers or sisters or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God 30 will fail to receive many times as much in this age, and in the age to come eternal life."
Calvin abridged: This narrative shows that Christ receives not only those who, moved by holy desire and faith, freely approach him, but those who are not yet of age to know how much they need his grace. The little children did not have enough understanding to desire his blessing; but when they are presented to him, he gently and kindly receives them, and dedicates them to the Father by a solemn act of blessing. 17- “For such is the kingdom of heaven”- When Jesus said this, he included both little children and those who resemble them in the kingdom; some foolishly exclude children with whom the kingdom must have started; He also by saying this intends his disciples to lay aside malice and pride, and put on the nature of children. Mark and Luke add that no one “can enter into the kingdom of heaven” unless he be made to resemble a child (cf. 1 Cor. 14:20). “A certain ruler”- This was a man of high authority, held in high esteem as a good man. Though in some gospels he is called a “young man”, in my estimation he belonged to the class of elders. He did not come treacherously, but came seeking instruction. He inquires about keeping the law and earning eternal life by his merit. The scriptures promise life to those who keep the law perfectly (if there was such a man) (Lev. 18:5; Deut. 30:19). But since we all fall short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23), the young man should be taught that no one is accounted righteous unless they have fulfilled the law perfectly (which is impossible). Salvation comes by faith, but the law is far from being useless. Let everyone who endeavors to regulate his life by obedience to Christ, direct their whole attention to keep the commandments of the law. So Jesus refers him to the second table (not murdering, honoring parents)- the same as loving neighbor as yourself. Christ makes him look at himself through the mirror of the law. He does not just tell him to sell, but to also give to the poor. Some applaud Crates the Theban, because he threw all his money into the sea, thinking that he could not save himself unless his wealth was lost; Christ does not compel everyone to sell all that they have. The laborer who supports his children would do wrong to sell his possessions unless he had to do so. To keep what God has given us by His power, living frugally and giving to the poor- is a greater virtue than to squander it all. “He went away sorrowful”- This shows how far away the young man was from the perfection to which Christ called us. To persevere in the school of Christ, we must renounce the flesh. This young man brought a desire to learn and modesty, but he withdrew from Christ because it was hard to part with a darling vice. The same thing may happen to us, unless the sweetness of his grace of Christ render all the allurements of the flesh distasteful to us. It is hard for those who place confidence in riches to enter into the kingdom. This is said to keep the rich on their guard, and to keep the poor from overly desiring what they do not have. Riches by themselves do not keep us from following God, but it is almost impossible to avoid being intoxicated with riches, becoming slaves to the earth. The disciples were astonished at this warning and asked, “Who, then can be saved?” Christ answers, “What is impossible with human beings is possible with God.” He does not free his disciples of all anxiety, so that they wouldn’t think it is easy to ascend to heaven, but find strength from heaven. The ending of this passage ends with this: Those who shall willingly lose all for the sake of Christ, will be more
happy even in this life than if they had retained the full possession of them; but the chief reward is laid up for them in heaven.

Thought: The kingdom of heaven belongs to little children, but it doesn’t belong to those who think they can buy it. This is a real contrast with what the world says. The humble win, the last shall be first, those who think they are first- without humility will be last. There is a different value system here. It is a system of child-like trust instead of pride and self-reliance. The rich need to stoop to God as a camel must bend low through a low-lying gate to go inside the city. The great thing about the kingdom of God, is that it is open to everyone, not just to the rich. But, that does not mean the rich cannot come too. All are welcome who make God their God.
In response, we should welcome all, and also be careful to treat all people with respect.

Prayer: Give us grace, O God, to put your kingdom first and enter into it with humility and grace. Help us to treat all people with kindness as you are so kind to us.

No comments:

Post a Comment