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God’s Word for You

Mark 10:20-23 treasure in heaven

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Friday, March 26, 2021

20 “Teacher,” he said, “I have kept all these since my boyhood.” 21 Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go and sell everything you own and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

The rich young man believed that he had kept the law in God’s eyes. He had certainly kept the law in his own eyes, and perhaps in the eyes of the people all around him. But the way that you show your trust in God is to trust God. This man thought that he was blameless because of what he did. It would have been better to have listened to David: “I have led a blameless life; I have trusted in the Lord without wavering” (Psalm 26:1).

Jesus told the young man to sell everything and give to the poor. This was a test for the young man, not a test for you. God has given you the things you have so that you can take care of your rent and your food and your children or your dog or cat—God looks after each one of us. But this man had not learned to trust God. That’s the sin of idolatry, the sin against the First Commandment. Rather than trusting in the riches of this world, he needed to look forward to the wealth of the world to come, riches of righteousness and purity, wealth of unending joy and praise to God. He needed to look away from his own treasure to his heavenly home where gold is nothing but a paving stone, pearl nothing more than a door jamb. In eternity, we ourselves are the treasures of God, along with the people with whom we share the gospel of Jesus Christ.

22 The man was shocked by what Jesus said and he went away sad, because he had great wealth. 23 Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God!”

The very thought of selling his precious possessions appalled the young man. He just couldn’t believe this was the answer he got, and “couldn’t believe” is the phrase that describes him in every way. He thought his own righteousness was what he needed to show, but Jesus was looking for faith, not a report card.

As the young man walked away, Jesus looked at him (Luke 18:24) and then he looked at each of his disciples. He looked them in the eye, one by one (the same word is used in Exodus 2:12 when Moses looked “this way and that” and in Mark 11:11 when Jesus looked around at everything in the temple). As his eyes met theirs, he said, “How hard it is for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God!” Maybe you can put yourself into the shoes of one of the disciples. How much have I given up to follow my Lord? This had shocked and appalled the rich man, but it preached the law to the disciples, too. Of course, faith in Christ isn’t always a matter of “giving up my idols.” Most of us came to faith as infants, and we have always had faith in Jesus. But we still need to remember that we trust in him above all things. Slipping into trusting my own record is an easy mistake. This passage preaches the law sharply and unwaveringly in Jesus’ words and in his searching eyes as he looked at the young man and at his twelve apostles. This was about you, too, Peter. And you, John. And you, Nathanael. And you, James. And you, Judas Iscariot. The law turns out the pockets of all our secrets and exposes our weakness, our temptations, and our sins. We are left defenseless before the eyes and words of Jesus. But he is not only the Judge. He is also the Redeemer. His eyes and words do not only accuse, they also offer forgiveness. We put our trust in him, and he offers his friendly hands, his smiling eyes, and his forgiving words. This is what it is to enter into the kingdom of God! It is to be forgiven, and to be brought by Jesus to his side forever.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim Smith

About Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.


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