Pentecost 2118 (PR 23)–“The True Heir of Eternal Life!” Mark 10:17-22

Pentecost 2118 (PR 23)–“The True Heir of Eternal Life!” Mark 10:17-22

Grace to you and peace from God, our Father, and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, Amen.

The text for our sermon meditation is taken from the Gospel account of St Mark, the 10th Chapter:

“17 As [Jesus] was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

18And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. 19You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’” 20And he said to him, “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.” 21And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 22Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.”

So far the reading.

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:

There are many things in life that give us happiness and joy. Husband and wife rejoice on the day of their vows. Parents rejoice at the birth of a child. Children burst forth in unending happiness when they have a pile of gifts set in front of them.

Likewise there are events in life that also take us in the opposite direction. What sorrow have you experienced in your life? Family strife? Illness or death of a loved one? Setbacks in finances, or employment? Loss or destruction of property? Unrest in the community or in the nation?

What have the people in Florida, Georgia, and North and South Carolina suffered in the past year? How many homes and businesses have suffered destruction and loss in the recent hurricanes? How many families have lost loved ones in this recent storm? It seems there is more to be sorrowful over than to rejoice over.

This seems to be the case in the Gospel reading. The rich young man seems to have the world by the tail in his own mind. Yet, he comes to a sorrowful conclusion as he walks away from Jesus.

What brings this rich young ruler to Jesus? There is a level of excitement and anticipation that is evident in the heart of this young man. He is seeking confirmation of his thoughts and desires regarding inheriting eternal life.  In unpacking this question you must also put yourself in his place and examine where you too have the same or similar thoughts regarding obtaining eternal life.

Do you hear any obvious error in this man’s question of Jesus? How does this man view the obtaining of eternal life? Does he view it as his present possession? Does he view it as something given or as something earned? Is eternal life an entitlement? What do you think?

First we must understand what inheritance is. There is someone who has accumulated property, possessions and money during their life. They know there will be something left of their estate when they pass from life in this world. Before that person dies he or she writes a legal document recording their wishes on how their estate is to be disbursed after they dies. In that document is a list all of the property, possessions and financial resources which remain. The document also says how everything is to be divided and to whom these things will go.

Some people have named family members, friends, servants and pets as inheritors. Others have named charities or other organizations who are to receive the remainder of their property. Those who expected to receive something from a dead relative have been pleasantly surprised or even sadly disappointed. The point being that what is disbursed is not something that is deserved, but given as a gift.

Recently someone posted information about prominent people who surprised their survivors when their will was read. Actor Philip Hoffman left all of his estate to his girlfriend and nothing to his children. Leona Helmsley left $12 million for the care of her pet. Singer Dusty Springfield left instructions on how to feed her cat and how to house the cat in a tree house. At night the cat was to be serenaded to sleep by playing recordings of her songs. Napoleon Bonaparte wanted his head shaved and his hair divided up among his friends. I imagine some people were happy they were not mentioned in these wills.

What of this rich young man? The young man did not see eternal life as a gift of grace. He saw eternal life as something that he earned the right to possess. He believed he could obtain that right by doing some good work. He comes to Jesus to test his belief and to receive corroboration for his belief. He asks Jesus, “What good work must I do to inherit eternal life?”

How often have you questioned receiving eternal life? What assurance do you need that you will indeed inherit eternal life? No doubt you struggle at times with this question but maybe for different reasons. You know you have not earned eternal life. You know that your heart and mind are assailed by doubt about your worthiness and God’s judgment upon you.

Or maybe you are like this young man who kneels before Jesus in hopeful expectation that you deserve eternal life. You are not troubled by guilt because of sinful pride. You look around you and see that you have done more than anybody else to obtain the right to possess eternal life. You have suffered more than other people. You have been more patient than other people. You have bitten your tongue in the face of personal trial more than other people. Your tally sheet of abiding by the standard of good is running into reams of paper because you are so good at keeping your version of the law.

Jesus leads the young man to see the error in this thinking. He says to the young man, “You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder.. Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’” What does the young man say? “Jesus check my tally sheet. I have kept these since my youth. What more should I do? Surely I have earned the right to possess eternal life.”

It is interesting what Jesus does in this passage. Have you thought about the order of the commandments Jesus recites? Jesus goes from the concrete to the intangible. The most obvious to the less perceptible. The actions of hand and words of mouth, to the disposition of the heart. Outward obedience to spiritual motivation. Jesus is leading the young man to the point where he will see his sin and the true value of his works.

At this point Jesus speaks the words that cut the young man to the heart. Jesus tells the young man he is lacking in one area of his life. Jesus tells the young man the assurance you look for will be revealed in your answer to the test I place before you. “… go sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven, and come follow me.” In effect, Jesus is asking the man to answer this question, “Who is your God?”

The young man knew he was lacking something in order to inherit eternal life. He did not know what was lacking. Jesus knows what he is lacking. Jesus knows the young man did not have his heart in the right place. His heart was filled with self-righteous pride. The image of God was absent. Jesus seeks to restore that image of God and bring the young man the gift for which he asks.

Mark says Jesus looked upon this young man and loved Him. This love is the same love which moved Jesus to look upon Peter in the court yard after hearing Peter’s denial. This love is the same love which moved Jesus to pray for those who plunged the crown of thorns into his brow and nailed his hands and feet to the cross. This is the same love which moved Jesus to endure the wrath of God and man for time and for eternity to atone for sins not his own. This is the same love that is shown to sinners when the water of baptism is poured out upon them. This is the same love that grants new life to those who repent of their sin and seek the mercy of God in the bread and wine given from the altar.

This is the same love that lifts the sinner out the futility of earning eternal life through work of men. This the same love that assures the repentant heart that eternal life is a gift restored by the work of God. For this reason Jesus says to the rich young man and to us, “Follow me.” Follow me to the throne of God’s grace and see the life that is yours by faith. Follow me to the altar of the cross and see the sacrifice that will make you whole. Follow me to the empty tomb and see the hope for which you ask accomplished in the resurrection of the Son of God, the one you name Good Teacher.

We will sometimes be in doubt of our inheritance before God. Like the young man in the text we will wonder what good thing we must still do to be assured of salvation and eternal life. We are assailed by doubt and uncertainty because of conscience and because of temptation to doubt.  We will struggle with a sense of self-worth. We will crumble in fear when Satan accuses us of past sins. We will become enamored of earthly temporal wealth at the expense of the heavenly eternal treasure given us in Jesus Christ.

At these times we may kneel before our Lord and ask the question, “Lord, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Our lord will say, “What has already been done for you, is not necessary to be repeated by you.” Sins once covered in the blood of the Lamb of God have no power over you. Trust this sacrifice. Follow in faith. Walk in forgiveness. Live eternally. This is your inheritance in Jesus Christ.

In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Proper 23 (Three-Year, year B)

 

Introit

Praise the LORD! Blessèd is the man who | fears the LORD,*

who greatly delights in his com- | mandments!

Wealth and riches are | in his house,*

and his righteousness endures for- | ever.

Light dawns in the darkness for the | upright;*

he is gracious, merciful, and | righteous.

It is well with the man who deals generous- | ly and lends;*

who conducts his affairs with | justice.

For the righteous will nev- | er be moved;*

he will be remembered for- | ever.

Glory be to the Father and | to the Son*

and to the Holy | Spirit;

as it was in the be- | ginning,*

is now, and will be forever. | Amen.

Praise the LORD! Blessèd is the man who | fears the LORD,*

who greatly delights in his com- | mandments!

 

Collect

Lord Jesus Christ, whose grace always precedes and follows us, help us to forsake all trust in earthly gain and to find in You our heavenly treasure; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

 

Gradual

He will command his angels con- | cerning you*

to guard you in | all your ways.

Bless the LORD, | O my soul,*

and all that is within me, bless his | holy name!

 

Verse

Alleluia. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. Alleluia.

 

 

Psalm 90:12–17

Psalm12So teach us to number | our days*

that we may get a heart of | wisdom.

13Return, O LORD! | How long?*

Have pity on your | servants!

14Satisfy us in the morning with your | steadfast love,*

that we may rejoice and be glad | all our days.

15Make us glad for as many days as you have af- | flicted us,*

and for as many years as we have seen | evil.

16Let your work be shown to your | servants,*

and your glorious power to their | children.

17Let the favor of the Lord our God be up- | on us,*

and establish the work of our hands upon us;

yes, establish the work | of our hands!

 

 

Amos 5:6–7, 10–15

Old Testament6Seek the LORD and live,

lest he break out like fire in the house of Joseph,

and it devour, with none to quench it for Bethel,

7O you who turn justice to wormwood

and cast down righteousness to the earth!

10They hate him who reproves in the gate,

and they abhor him who speaks the truth.

11Therefore because you trample on the poor

and you exact taxes of grain from him,

you have built houses of hewn stone,

but you shall not dwell in them;

you have planted pleasant vineyards,

but you shall not drink their wine.

12For I know how many are your transgressions

and how great are your sins—

you who afflict the righteous, who take a bribe,

and turn aside the needy in the gate.

13Therefore he who is prudent will keep silent in such a time,

for it is an evil time.

14Seek good, and not evil,

that you may live;

and so the LORD, the God of hosts, will be with you,

as you have said.

15Hate evil, and love good,

and establish justice in the gate;

it may be that the LORD, the God of hosts,

will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph.

 

 

Hebrews 3:12–19

Epistle12Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. 13But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. 14For we share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end. 15As it is said,

“Today, if you hear his voice,

do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.”

16For who were those who heard and yet rebelled? Was it not all those who left Egypt led by Moses? 17And with whom was he provoked for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness? 18And to whom did he swear that they would not enter his rest, but to those who were disobedient? 19So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief.

 

 

Mark 10:17–22

Gospel17 As [Jesus] was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

18And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. 19You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’” 20And he said to him, “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.” 21And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 22Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.

 

Prayer of Thanksgiving

In Your righteous judgment You condemned the sin of Adam and Eve, who ate the forbidden fruit, and You justly barred them and all their children from the tree of life.  Yet, in Your great mercy, You promised salvation by a second Adam, Your Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, and made His cross a life-giving tree for all who trust in Him.

 

We give You thanks for the redemption You have prepared for us through Jesus Christ.  Grant us Your Holy Spirit that we may faithfully eat and drink of the fruits of His cross and receive the blessings of forgiveness, life, and salvation that come to us in His body and blood.

 

Proper Preface

It is truly good, right, and salutary that we should at all times and in all places give thanks to You, holy Lord, almighty Father, everlasting God, through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who on this day overcame death and the grave and by His glorious resurrection opened to us the way of everlasting life.  Therefore with angels and archangels and with all the company of heaven we laud and magnify Your glorious name, evermore praising You and saying:

 

Proper Preface

It is truly good, right, and salutary that we should at all times and in all places give thanks to You, holy Lord, almighty Father, everlasting God, through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who, having created all things, took on human flesh and was born of the virgin Mary.  For our sake He died on the cross and rose from the dead to put an end to death, thus fulfilling Your will and gaining for You a holy people.  Therefore with angels and archangels and with all the company of heaven we laud and magnify Your glorious name, evermore praising You and saying:

 

Proper Preface

It is truly good, right, and salutary that we should at all times and in all places give thanks to You, holy Lord, almighty Father, everlasting God, through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who, out of love for His fallen creation, humbled Himself by taking on the form of a servant, becoming obedient unto death, even death upon a cross.  Risen from the dead, He has freed us from eternal death and given us life everlasting.  Therefore with angels and archangels and with all the company of heaven we laud and magnify Your glorious name, evermore praising You and saying:

 

Proper Preface

It is truly good, right, and salutary that we should at all times and in all places give thanks to You, holy Lord, almighty Father, everlasting God, through Jesus Christ, our Lord.  Therefore with angels and archangels and with all the company of heaven we laud and magnify Your glorious name, evermore praising You and saying:

 

Proper Preface (Jacobean)

It is truly meet, right, and salutary that we should at all times and in all places give thanks to You, holy Lord, almighty Father, everlasting God, through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who on this day overcame death and the grave and by His glorious resurrection opened to us the way of everlasting life.  Therefore with angels and archangels and with all the company of heaven we laud and magnify Your glorious name, evermore praising You and saying:

 

Proper Preface (Jacobean)

It is truly meet, right, and salutary that we should at all times and in all places give thanks to You, holy Lord, almighty Father, everlasting God, through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who, having created all things, took on human flesh and was born of the virgin Mary.  For our sake He died on the cross and rose from the dead to put an end to death, thus fulfilling Your will and gaining for You a holy people.  Therefore with angels and archangels and with all the company of heaven we laud and magnify Your glorious name, evermore praising You and saying:

 

Proper Preface (Jacobean)

It is truly meet, right, and salutary that we should at all times and in all places give thanks to You, holy Lord, almighty Father, everlasting God, through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who, out of love for His fallen creation, humbled Himself by taking on the form of a servant, becoming obedient unto death, even death upon a cross.  Risen from the dead, He has freed us from eternal death and given us life everlasting.  Therefore with angels and archangels and with all the company of heaven we laud and magnify Your glorious name, evermore praising You and saying:

 

Proper Preface (Jacobean)

It is truly meet, right, and salutary that we should at all times and in all places give thanks to You, holy Lord, almighty Father, everlasting God, through Jesus Christ, our Lord.  Therefore with angels and archangels and with all the company of heaven we laud and magnify Your glorious name, evermore praising You and saying: