WHAT MUST I DO TO INHERIT ETERNAL LIFE?
Key vs. 10:21
“Jesus looked at him and loved him. "One thing you lack," he said. "Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."
Last week, some Pharisees came to Jesus with a dubious question about divorce. Jesus taught the original purpose of marriage quoting Genesis 2. We learned that God designed marriage with purpose from the moment of creation. He wanted to raise up godly people through marriage and fill the whole world with godly people. We need to pray for young people to marry with God’s view and raise up godly children –spiritual and physical ones.
Today a rich young man came to Jesus with a question about eternal life. It is a very important question that everyone should have answer. These days not many people ask such questions. But it is very important because it will determine whether we will live in heaven with Christ or we will be condemned in hell. I pray that we may receive an answer from this message.
1. A young man’s quest for eternal life (17-20)
Look at vs 17.
As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. "Good teacher," he asked, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?"
This young man ran up to Jesus and fell on his knees, asking “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” His attitude shows that he was very sincere and even desperate. I have never heard someone asking a question for eternal life, though I heard some students asking, “What must I do to pass the class? Or what must I do to find a job?”
Having an eternal life is very important. Even if we may be very successful in this world, what good is it to lose our salvation? Even though we enjoy this life, if we can’t make it to heaven, what is the meaning of life and all Christian activities we do. We must be very clear about our salvation and eternal life. As Jesus coming soon, we must be ready to meet him.
Look at vs. 18-19. How does Jesus help this young man?
"Why do you call me good?" Jesus answered. "No one is good—except God alone.
This man, calling Jesus good teacher, must have thought Jesus is the perfect model of good people. He respected him and wished to be perfect as Jesus is. Jesus corrected his misconceived idea about man. Jesus says: No one is good, except God alone. Romans 3:10 says: no one is righteous, not even one.
Many people think they are pretty good. But Jesus says: no one is good except God alone. When God created man in the beginning, we were made good. God said: it was very good. But since Adam sinned, we were tainted with sin, only God remains as good and holy. We must admit God’s view of man as a first step. That’s why Jesus told the young man: no one is good except God alone.
What did the young man think about himself? Look at vs. 19-20.
You know the commandments: 'Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, do not defraud, honor your father and mother." "Teacher," he declared, "all these I have kept since I was a boy."
When Jesus mentioned the ten commandments, he said: Teacher, I have kept all these commandments from my boyhood. He did not simply said. Vs. 20 says: he declared: Teacher, I have done them already! These days so many leaders have fallen from grace: they were caught in defrauding or adultery. This young man has kept all these commandments. He even honored his father and mother. He must be a pretty good man. Everyone must have called him Mr. Goodman and respected him. So he declared himself, “I have kept all these since I was a boy.” He sounds as if saying: “Shouldn’t I deserve eternal life, should I?”
Many people think they are pretty good: I went to Sunday school. I am not a serial killer; I have not molested children. I do many good things such as charitable works for the homeless. I donated money for the poor. I am pretty good, Jesus will welcome me into heaven. But Jesus says: no one is good except God alone. If you want to have eternal life with God, you must be as perfect as God himself. When we admit our sins before God, we have taken a first step to receive eternal life.
If you still think you are good enough, let me tell you some more: Jesus says in a sermon on the mount (Mt6:21,27), if you hate your brother, you have already committed a murder. If you look at a woman lustfully at heart, you have already committed adultery. Who have not sinned yet? God looks at our hearts! We have all sinned. We need forgiveness from God.
2. Jesus invites the man to be his disciple (21,22)
Look at vs. 21-22.
Jesus looked at him and loved him. "One thing you lack," he said. "Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me." At this the man's face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.
How does Jesus continue to help this young man? Jesus looked at him very lovingly and told him one thing he lacked. One think, but very important thing he lacked: Go sell everything and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven.
Though he declared: he has kept all the commandments, he did not do them out of love for God and for others. He did it all for himself. Once Jesus summarized the spirit of the law: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart…and love your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus saw his heart was full of love for his possession, leaving no room for God. Jesus says: empty your heart and I will give you heavenly treasure. Because Jesus loved him so much, he challenged the young man to go sell off his possession, come follow him. Jesus invited him to be his disciple.
Eternal life is not something we can earn by doing good or after becomg a good person. When Jesus invites us to follow him, if we obey his word by faith, and follow him, Jesus forgives us, saves us from sin, and lives with us from now on to eternity. Eternal life is a gift from God for those who welcome Jesus in their hearts.
Jesus’ command is a test of faith also to this young man. Did he trust Jesus more than himself? Jesus often commanded people to do the impossible before healing them. For example, Jesus commanded the paralytic: “Get up, take a mat, and walk.” (Mk2:11) This is a voice of God. If he obeys by faith, Jesus will give heavenly treasure. He has to act by faith alone.
We also love many things in the world like this young man. We love computer games, movies or we love our jobs or friends. We want to hold on to them. Sometimes we wonder if we have to sell everything to follow Jesus. If you are ready to love Jesus more than those, Jesus would not tell you to give up your games, Xbox or your friends, because they are not hindrance to following him. But if you love them too much, he will tell you to give them up. If you obey by faith, he will give you heavenly treasure.
How did the young man respond to Jesus? Look at vs 22. He went away sad. What a tragic story it is? He came so close to receiving eternal life, but he loved his wealth too much. In the end, he will lose everything, including his wealth and his soul.
3. Jesus’ promise to his disciples (23-31)
Jesus was broken-hearted toward this young man, warned his disciples. Look at vs. 23-27.
Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, "How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!" The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again, "Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." The disciples were even more amazed, and said to each other, "Who then can be saved?" Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God."
Material is a God’s blessing. God entrusts material to us to serve God’s works. However, if we love materials and hold on to it, it becomes idols. Instead of serving God, we serve materials. We become slaves to materials. If we love God with first priority and obey, we can use all things, not only material, talents or jobs or families for God’s glory. If you depend on our goodness or achievements or materials, it is impossible to be saved. But if we humbly acknowledge our sins and trust in Jesus, all things are possible with God. Let us trust in Jesus’ goodness.
Look at vs. 28-31
Peter said to him, "We have left everything to follow you!" "I tell you the truth," Jesus replied, "no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age (homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—and with them, persecutions) and in the age to come, eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first."
Peter must be happy, knowing that he had left everything to follow Jesus. He sounds like asking Jesus, what reward he would receive. Jesus promises that they would receive 100 times more than what they might have lost to follow Jesus. It shows that we lose nothing to follow Jesus. Of course, we experience pain and persecution when we follow Jesus. Some people have to give up sometimes friends or families. Abraham had to leave his family to escape persecution from relatives. Thank God for hearing his prayer and joining them together soon. Tommy received persecution from his family, but when he stood firm, his brother Tony came to Jesus. Now God has given him a job and thousand brothers, sisters, mothers and fathers who pray for him. Jesus welcomes us into spiritual family of God when we follow him, even if we lose earthly family members. Look around you. How many brothers, sisters, mothers and fathers? We will live with Christ in heaven eternally. May God bless us with faith to accept eternal life.