nullPentecost 22 2018
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud
October 21, 2018
Ecclesiastes 5:10-20,

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Mark 10:23 (ESV) 23 … Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!”[1]

How difficult it will be for those with wealth.  I guess it’s going to be rough on the last day for those rich folks.  Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Jeff Bezos…wouldn’t want to be one of those wealthy people on the last day.  Although…it might be might be kind of fun to be one of them for a while; living that lifestyle of the rich and famous; winning a billion dollars in the lottery.  But Jesus says, “How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!”  Those poor, wealthy people.

Of course being wealthy is relative.  According to a World Bank report this week almost half of the world’s population lives on less than $5.50 per day.  I have heard that to be rich by world standards is to have more than one pair of shoes and get to choose what you eat.  Sometimes we hear talk about that terribly selfish top 1% of wealthy people.  By world standards an income above $32,000 per year puts in you in the top 1% of world earners.  You are all rich.  Many of you are in the top 1%.

Mark 10:23 (ESV) 23 … “How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!”[2]

C’mon Jesus.  Are you serious?  Are you talking about us?  How difficult it will be for us to enter the kingdom of heaven?  The disciples are amazed at Jesus’ words and Jesus continues to teach them, “Children,” he says.  He calls them children which takes us back a few verses to when Jesus sees the disciples keeping the children away from him.  Mark 10:14-15 (ESV)  14 But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. 15 Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.”[3]

Children are weak and vulnerable and trusting.  Jesus addresses the disciples as children.  “Mark 10:24-25 (ESV) 24 … “Children, how difficult it is to enter the kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.”[4]

I have trouble getting a piece of thread through the eye of a needle; there is no way a camel has a chance.  It is impossible.  Mark 10:26 (ESV) 26 And [the disciples] were exceedingly astonished, and said to [Jesus], “Then who can be saved?”[5]

Who can be saved?  A camel cannot get through the eye of a needle.  It is impossible.  You cannot get yourself into the kingdom of God.  It is impossible; for the wealthy; for anyone.  Jesus has set the stage and is about to drop a teaching of colossal importance on the disciples; and on you and me.

Mark 10:27 (ESV) 27 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.”[6]  It is not about you.  It is about Jesus for you.

You cannot do it.  It has already been done for you.  Your sin is an insurmountable barrier to getting into the Kingdom of God.  Jesus has destroyed that barrier.  Jesus laid down His life to save you.  He has taken away your sin and brings you into the Kingdom.  Jesus does it for you.

Immediately following Gospel reading today, as Jesus and the disciples continue on their journey, Jesus next tells the disciples how he is going to do it.  Mark 10:33-34 (ESV) 33 … “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death and deliver him over to the Gentiles. 34 And they will mock him and spit on him, and flog him and kill him. And after three days he will rise.” [7]

Jesus does it for you.  It is all so counter to your natural way of thinking.  You want to believe you can do it yourself because you want to be independent.  You want to be strong.  You want to be self-sufficient, but you are not.  Before God you are a weak, helpless, dependent child.  And Jesus welcomes you and gives you the Kingdom of God.

            You cannot do it.  It has already been done for you.  Your sin is an insurmountable barrier to getting into the Kingdom of God.  Jesus has destroyed that barrier.  Jesus laid down His life to save you.  He has taken away your sin and brings you into the Kingdom.  Jesus does it for you.

This morning we welcomed little Sloane Sheley into the Kingdom of God through the waters of Holy Baptism.  Jesus’ perfection and holiness were watered onto Sloane and she became a child of God.  There are many churches that say that children should not be baptized until they can make a decision for themselves.  But we see in today’s Gospel reading that it is not about what you do or what you say; it is not about you doing your part; it is about God’s gift to you of eternal life in His Kingdom.  Jesus welcomes the little children and gives them forgiveness, life and salvation.  It’s not about you; it’s about Jesus for you.

Salvation is a gift from God the Father, to you, through Jesus, by the power of the Holy Spirit.  You cannot save yourself, but you can get lost.  You can get distracted by the things of this world.  There are dangers to your faith in God.

Our lessons last week and this week warn about the danger of wealth; the danger of loving money.  Ecclesiastes 5:10 (ESV) 10 He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves wealth with his income; this also is vanity.[8]

The love of money is spiritually dangerous; it can lead you away from fear, love and trust in God alone.  Being in the Kingdom of God brings you great joy.  Love of money takes away your joy.

Now we need money; it is part of life, but we cannot love money and that is an easy temptation to give in to.  We think about money a lot.  There is a lot of pressure about money in life; there are lots of bills that come with being an adult.  It is easy to become obsessed by money because it is easy to live above your means.

This is one great benefit of each week giving a generous offering to the Lord’s work at Immanuel.  To give a sacrificial offering off the top each week and not from the leftovers helps keep money in perspective.  How much constitutes a sacrificial, first-fruits offering is different for everyone.  Ten percent is not a law in the New Testament covenant, but I use it as a guideline to avoid letting my selfishness and greediness get in the way of generosity.  For some the right amount may be less, for others more.  Keep a healthy attitude toward money no matter how little or how much you have.  Live below your means.  Be generous with those who work for you or serve you.  Tip generously.  Be generous with those around you.  Give generously to various charities that provide help to others.  Give generously to the Lord’s work here at Immanuel.  Give cheerfully, give regularly.  Give each week whether you are in worship or not.  Offering is a gift to the Lord’s work, not an admission price.  Keep the right perspective of money as a temporary tool and if you find you are starting to love money, give something away.  Give away more.  Be more generous.

As a Christian living life in the Kingdom of God you will find more joy in your limited possessions than an unbelieving billionaire will find in his great wealth.  You, as a citizen of the Kingdom of Heaven, find joy in simply eating and drinking and finding enjoyment in your toil for the few days God gives you.  As a baptized child of God you have more than anyone else; because you have Jesus.

It is indeed impossible for a camel to go through the eye of a needle.  It is impossible for you to get into the Kingdom of God on your own.  And yet, you are in the Kingdom of God because Jesus brought you in.  Jesus did the impossible.  Jesus paid your price.  Jesus saved you.  Jesus is the way.  Jesus is the only way.  Jesus is your way.

Amen.


[1]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

[2]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

[3]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

[4]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

[5]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

[6]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

[7]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

[8]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

 

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