Introduction–Jesus is not Santa Claus
Haven’t you ever wondered why, since Jesus was such a nice guy, meek and mild; since Jesus is basically Santa Claus in sandals and a bath robe; since Jesus never wanted to hurt anyone’s feeling–haven’t you ever wondered why Jesus was killed? Jesus wasn’t killed by accident; Jesus was killed because the things he did and said caused people to hate him. Matthew 19-20 is a good example of the sort of things Jesus said that got him killed, because these 2 chapters contain some difficult, explosive teachings from Jesus. In 2019 at Munger, we’re reading through the Gospels over the course of the year, with short readings assigned each weekday. So, each weekday I’ve been trying to write a brief commentary to go along with that day’s Gospel reading. I’m a few days behind, so I’m going to post my comments on Matthew 19-20 in 3 separate posts, one after the other; to understand Matthew 19-20, we need to look at all of Jesus’s teachings together, so be sure to check out each of the 3 posts. Part 1 is about Jesus, Marriage, and Divorce; this is Part 2: about whether Jesus would ever turn someone away [the rich young ruler]; Part 3 is about a truly explosive, troubling parable [the laborers in the vineyard].
Would Jesus Ever Turn Someone Away?
I don’t think we ever see Jesus turn someone away. But, what we do see are people who refuse what he has to offer. The story of the rich young ruler is a good example of this: he asks Jesus how to have eternal life, and Jesus answers him honestly. Jesus tells him that his possessions will make it very hard for him to receive the kingdom. The man doesn’t want to hear that, and walks away sad.
Jesus calls every person to follow him, but we come on his terms, not our own. There are many people in the Gospels and in our time who aren’t willing to accept the terms Jesus gives. Wealth is obviously a major stumbling block for us, because when we are wealthy it’s much harder for us to trust Jesus first. But, wealth is not the only stumbling block in a person’s life.
So, here’s the question: what is the thing that’s keeping you from following Jesus today?
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