Good news or good offer may not be always accepted. In 1829 George Wilson, in Pennsylvania, was sentenced to be hanged for robbery and murder by the court. For some reason President Andrew Jackson chose to pardon him and for unimaginable reason Wilson chose to reject the pardon! Chief Justice John Marshall gave the final verdict: “It is hardly to be supposed that one under sentence of death would refuse to accept a pardon, but if it is refused, it is no pardon. George Wilson must be hanged!”
The story of the rich man began with him running earnestly to Jesus and knelt down reverently asking: “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” What a sincere seeker, encountering the right person with the right question. Jesus patiently and lovingly guided him to see the way to eternal life. In the interactive dialogue Jesus revealed to him three fundamental truths: only God is truly good, the best person who followed the ten commandments are not good enough to inherit eternal life, and lastly, the most important truth and good news is having Christ is having eternal life which no one can gain by meritorious goodness. The challenge to the rich man to give up all his riches to the poor is not to buy his way to heaven. The issue boils down to: what does he really want? his earthly possession or Jesus Christ? Unfortunately, he had many possessions that he could hardly part. He left. To him, Jesus worth less than his possessions! Sadly he responded to the good news with a bad choice even after his personal encounter with Jesus. In a way, possession is his god and Christ but just a good teacher!
“How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!”, remarked by Jesus. “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!” Yet we do see that a good number of Jesus’ followers gave up there possessions to follow him whole-heartedly such as the rich tax-collectors Matthew and Zacchaeus, and lifetime fishermen Peter and John who accepted Jesus’ invitation to follow him and gave up their life work as fisherman. The invitation to follow Jesus is the same to all but only good for those who are not possessed by their possessions but bad for those who are owned by what they “owned”.
Do we “feed” on our possessions so much that we become a fattened camel? Are these possessions behaving in our lives as gods upon whom we derive our security, gratification, success, and meaning of existence? Do we hung on them as if there is no life without them? A few large surveys showed that the majority of millennials say that they cannot live without their “hand-held”. Be careful, what we cannot live without may become our God. Christ deeply loves us and invites us to follow him and that is the good news. We have to make a choice to accept or reject! Don’t let any of our possession possess us. We are purchased by Jesus Christ and we are His. Make good choice to good news: take up our cross and follow Him.
This Sunday, Pastor James will expound this passage further.
Your servant in Christ, Thomas