2007-09-09_The Eye of a Needle_Matthew 19.13-26_SL
The Eye of a Needle
Matthew 19:13-26 | Shaun LePage | September 9, 2007
A. Children’s sermon. Have everyone climb through a hoola-hoop. Pretend that you’re in danger and you must get through the hoola-hoop to be safe. How many of you can do it? Then pull out a needle (wedding ring?). Now how many of you can get through—only your fingers can be saved!? Read Mt 19:24-26; Getting to heaven on our own is impossible, too. But with God it is possible. [Back to Parents—lay hands on and pray.]
B. Muslim man - flyer; I asked, “How are you doin’?” He said, “Not very well.” Short list—Man’s standards of righteousness are low, yet hopeless. Jesus’ conversation in Mt.19 perfect illustration of true nature of man-made systems of righteousness.
II. Body—Matthew 19:13-26
A. Children were brought to Jesus. (13-15)
1. (13) “children” (παιδίον) infants or young children; Why did they “rebuke”? Don’t know (listening to 18:4?); Jews considered children a blessing—influenced by Greeks and Romans? [What if Jesus Had Never Been Born? Kennedy, pgs. 10-12]
2. (14) Command—Jesus did have time for children; Mark says “indignant”—only 2-3 times Jesus angry with disciples; children a nuisance? Read v.14 again; note context—right after warnings against divorce—connection? statement gives every hope for parents—children died; main point: kingdom of heaven made up of people like them; child-like faith (18:4); humility / trust. Write this down: Is my faith child-like?
3. (15) As “they” wished, Jesus did a simple, baby dedication—hands and prayer (13)
B. The rich man went away. (16-22)
1. (16) Question reflected the Jewish perspective; mankind throughout time and all other religious systems; of 11 major religions, 10 teach works are necessary for salvation; so the man’s question is not surprising, but Jesus’ answer is!
a) (17a) “only One who is good”—obvious reference to God. Ps 25:8—for Jesus to answer the question and “instruct (this) sinner in the way” is claim to deity!;
b) (17b-21) But why “keep the commandments”? Why “go and sell…and give…”? Man asked “which ones” Jesus quoted from Ten Comm. and Lev 19—the Law!
(1) Many questions: Can keeping commandments save? Did Jesus teach someone can be saved by Law? Can selling possessions and giving every-thing to poor save someone? Was Jesus teaching works salvation as many claim?
(2) If so, He contradicts many other passages of Scripture:
(a) For example, Rom 3:19-20. Law doesn’t save, but “…comes knowledge of sin.” NLT: “For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the law commands. The law simply shows us how sinful we are.”
(b) Contradicts Himself! John 6:29.
(3) Clearly, Jesus wasn’t teaching works salvation.
(a) (20) “All these things I have kept.” Jesus knew this young man’s heart and was demonstrating to him that the Law condemned him! He claimed to have kept “love your neighbor as yourself” (summarized the second tablet of 10 commandments which were focused on relationships with other people) but he proved otherwise! He loved his wealth more than his neighbor. In fact, proved that He had not kept the first tablet of 10 Commandments—focused on God. Matt 22:36-37
(b) (22) Young man “went away grieving” and proved he loved his “much property” more than “eternal life” with God. Col 3:5; Wealth isn’t just a problem for unbelievers, either: Remember parable of soils—13:22?
(c) Jesus wasn’t teaching works salvation—He never even got to the gospel! He simply proved the first fact: We are all sinners! Bad news! This man wouldn’t admit that fact, but he instinctively knew he “lacked” something.
(d) Why did Jesus let him “go away” without telling him the rest of the gospel? Mt 6:24—the young man didn’t want to listen. He chose his master. The contrast is stark: In the children: humility/trust; but rich man: pride/greed—self-righteousness. Write down: Is my faith self-focused?
c) What about the end of v.21? If we “come, follow” Christ (i.e., become disciples) does that save? Was Jesus teaching a “full gospel” message here—that the real gospel is more than just faith alone in Christ alone—that to be saved, one must give Jesus his whole life?
(1) No—simply put, the gospel is not you giving Jesus anything. It is Jesus giving you everything. [Ryrie, So Great Salvation, p.38]. Always been those who wanted to add to simple gospel message, protect at all cost. “Eternal life” (what this man asked for) is consistently presented to the reader of the Bible as a gift. Free to those who receive it by faith. Listen to Jesus in John 6:47. Listen to Paul in Romans 6:23 and Eph 2:8-9. Listen to John in 1 John 5:11-13.
(2) Discipleship on the other hand is choosing to pay a high cost. Mt 16.24
(3) These two great truths stand side by side—I proclaim them both. Receive the free gift—no strings attached. But if that’s all, you “suffer loss” 1Cor 3.14-15
C. The disciples were astonished. (23-26)
1. (23-24) Camel largest animal there in those days; no real evidence of a gate called “eye of the needle”—point is not difficulty, but impossibility; “rich” difficult for disciples to hear—culture had prosperity theology (rich were blessed by God; in the infancy of God’s work among the Hebrews, He did bless obedience with material wealth. But in the new kingdom of Christ, wealth is hindrance, it can become a master in direct competition with God). Wealth=comfort; keeps focus on this world—1 Tim 6:7-11
2. (25) Disciples “astonished”; question: “who can be saved?” As though they’re saying, “If rich (those blessed by God) can’t get in, who can?”
3. (26) “People…impossible…with God…possible.” Man cannot save Himself. Only God can save. Even if we did “go and sell (our) possessions and give to the poor” it would not gain us eternal life! We are totally dependent upon God’s mercy. Write down: Is my faith God-dependent?
III. Closing: Assignment and list of questions on back of handouts; take them home and pray through them this week—do some self-examination; ask God to “search your heart”:
A. Reread Matthew 19:13-26.
B. Do I love children like Jesus?
C. Have I consistently laid my hands on and prayed for my children?
D. Do I come to Jesus with child-like faith?
E. Am I more focused on my good works or on the work of Christ?
F. Have my property and possessions become masters in my life?
G. Have I trusted Christ alone to give me eternal life?
H. Am I willing to “give up all my possessions” to follow Christ?
I. Have I thanked God lately for doing the impossible—saving me by faith apart from works?
J. Have I shared the bad news and good news with anyone recently?
K. Write down 2 or 3 ways you believe God wants you to respond to the message of Matthew 19:13-26: