Small in Stature but Great in Grace

Luke 19:1-10 (NASB)

He entered Jericho and was passing through. And there was a man called by the name of Zaccheus; he was a chief tax collector and he was rich. Zaccheus was trying to see who Jesus was, and was unable because of the crowd, for he was small in stature. So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree in order to see Him, for He was about to pass through that way. When Jesus came to the place, He looked up and said to him, “Zaccheus, hurry and come down, for today I must stay at your house.” And he hurried and came down and received Him gladly. When they saw it, they all began to grumble, saying, “He has gone to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.” Zaccheus stopped and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, half of my possessions I will give to the poor, and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will give back four times as much.” And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”

As Jesus was approaching Jericho, he saved blind Bartimeus, which we read about in chapter 18. He passed through Jericho and healed two blind men sitting by the road outside town (Matt. 20:29-34). A short distance further out of Jericho He passes a sycamore tree, and there is a “little man” in the tree.

  1. Jesus is a Friend to those small in stature or low in character.
    Jesus looked up and said, “Zacchaeus, hurry down, for today I must stay at your house” (Luke 19:5). “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10). Seek and save.
    1. The lost are not liked by the morally upright and religious. “He’s a guest of a sinner” (v. 7).
    2. The lost have done immoral things to get ahead in this world. “A chief tax collector” (v. 2).
      Chief tax collectors lied, embezzled, cheated and swindled their fellow countrymen for Rome.
    3. The lost may think themselves great but they are actually small. “He was small in stature” (v. 3).
      When all is said and done, after collecting all you’ve won, there’s only emptiness instead of fun. That which is worth cherishing in life are the very things that people only see as important at the end of life. Young people, remember this truth: Character counts. Jesus alone changes the heart.

  2. God’s grace given will always transform the character of His people.
    Nobody who has met Christ will revel in his sin or celebrate the darkness. Grace transforms the heart.
    1. A desire to know Jesus is the greatest gift you’ve ever been given.
      Why do we call it a gift? “There is nobody who seeks God, no not one” (Romans 3:11). Which is first, the sinner seeking Jesus or Jesus seeking the sinner? “Hurry down, for I must stay at your house” (v. 5). “Call His name Jesus for He shall save His people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21).
    2. Knowing Jesus means you “hurry and do” what the Master says.
      “Hurry and come down,” Jesus said. And Zacchaeus “hurried and came down” (Luke 19:6).
    3. Doing what Jesus says comes from a heart full of joy (e.g. rejoicing).
      “And Zacchaeus received Jesus gladly” (v. 6). Do you received the Lord and His commands gladly?
    4. A heart full of joy that obeys the Master translates into a change of life.
      “Behold, Lord, half of my possessions I will give to the poor, and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will give him four times as much” (v. 8). This is true repentance. It’s a change of life. The taker becomes a giver. The hater becomes a lover. The oppressor becomes the server.

  3. Salvation in the gospel is more about a change of life than it is a change in destiny.
    Jesus said, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he, too, is a son of Abraham” (v. 9). Abraham is the father of all us who believe (Romans 4:16). We believe in God’s grace in Christ. “Whoever says, "I know Jesus," but does not do what He commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person” (I John 2:4). Be wise and focus on Christ’s Kingdom now; not the Kingdom to come.

Hear Him, ye deaf! His praise, ye dumb!
Your loosened tongues employ!
Ye blind behold your Savior come;
And leap ye lame for joy!


Givers and Not Takers

Review: We have examined over the last four weeks some key relationship principles:

  1. Relational grace moves toward others in connection.
    To relate with someone else is to transparently narrate your life to them and to warmly and lovingly receive the narration of their life to you (thoughts, feelings, desires, etc.).
  2. Relational grace stops blaming others for problems within.
    Disconnection occurs when there is both inner pain and self-absorption, so to “reset” a relationship, you say, “You are neither the source or solution for the pain or trouble in me,” as well as “I am neither the source or solution for the pain or trouble in you.”
  3. Relational grace looks to Christ as the Source of real life.
    When there is contentment with Jesus as one’s Source of life, in-to-me-you-see (intimacy) becomes the characteristic of real, healthy relationships with appropriate boundaries.
  4. Relational grace communicates with care to others.
    When emotions take over, and the reset button is hit, you learn to communicate with care. In essence, “the other person” in your relationship becomes your focus, in that you always do what is right and best for “the other person” (I Corinthians 13).

Some might be saying, “But what about forgiveness?” I can’t move forward in relationship until I can forgive the other person for what they’ve done to me. Consider something: When God forgives you, is it because you’ve “hurt him?” No. You’ve crossed a boundary that He’s established for your good. God freely forgives when there’s repentance for crossing His boundary because He’s already satisfied within Himself!

We’ll conclude this morning by examining the fifth and final principle of relating well with one another. “We love Him because He first loved us” (I John 4:19). “Love one another as I have loved you” (John 15:12).

This principle is called “The Power of One.”

In a curse-filled relationship, two people fight for the fulfillment they are seeking.
In a grace-filled relationship, two people give freedom from the fulfillment they possess.

In a curse-filled relationship, two people determine to dominate for the sake of lust.
In a grace-filled relationship, two people strive to serve for the sake of love.

In a curse-filled relationship, two people with disappointment in each other leave a relationship.
In a grace-filled relationship, two people with enjoyment independent of each other stay in relationship.

How does a relationship become grace-filled? It takes the power of real, genuine love in just one person. “We love Him because He first loved us” (I John 4:19).

The Bible declares and we believe and teach that God's love in Christ is so captivating, so alluring, so charming, so dazzling, so enthralling, so mesmerizing, so spellbinding ("good spell"), so magnetizing, so enrapturing, so gripping, so compelling, so hypnotizing, and so fully and absolutely "sweep me off my feet" enamoring that I could not, would not and must not refuse relationship with God. That’s love. And if you and I ever grasp that Jesus calls us to love others like He loves us, we begin to experience the Power of One. By Gods’ grace let’s make the choice to trust Christ’s love, set relational boundaries, and really live!


Where to Turn When Emotions Take Over

James 4:1-3 (NASB)

“I’ve learned in who I am to be content”

What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive blessing because you ask with wrong motives.

REVIEW: Relationship is where two people narrate their lives (relate). “You are neither the source nor the solution for the trouble or pain within me.” Also, “I am neither the source nor the solution for the trouble or pain within you.” When our Source is Christ, then we develop “into-me-you-see.” The ability to truthfully express what you feel, think and believe establishes the best boundaries for real relationships.

"A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver” (Proverbs 25:11), but “Harsh words are like sword thrusts” (Proverbs 12:18). The Hebrew word translated "apples" is the word jewelry. Speech that is well thought through, patient in delivery, and designed for the purpose of the other person's ultimate good is like a piece of gold jewelry encased in silver. It's valuable, beautiful, and memorable. Notice the contrast the Bible makes between "harsh words" and "aptly spoken words." When emotions take over, I should pull back, assess my Source (15 Words), and then speak an intimate, apt word.

Communicate appropriate words with CARE:

Consider the other person

The essence of Kingdom living is selfless living. The only person who can be a giver in relationship is the one whose heart is already full. A lack of emotional control (panic, fear, worry, anger, anxiety) is, in reality, a lack of resting in Jesus as your Source of acceptance, provision, security, identity, and purpose. Express yourself freely, but avoid absolute second person language (“you never” or “you always”).

Accept the other person

The reason emotions run high in relationship is because we want something from that other person and we are not getting it. I have a saying to help people struggling in relationship: “That which you think needs to change in the other person usually only changes when God knows you don’t need it changed.” You may desire change for the good of another, but you will be okay whether change comes or not.

Remind the other person

There is nothing wrong with reminding the other person about his or her responsibilities and what you think is best. However, learn to accept the fact that your significant other may not fulfill his or her responsibilities (ex. “to forgive”) the way you do. Feel free to discuss and offer suggestions on how the other person might be able to fulfill the responsibility. Feel free to express your frustrations and emotions freely, but acknowledge them as a problem taking place within yourself, and you’ll be okay.

Encourage the other person

By being a listener who values the feelings, expressions, emotions, and activities of others! One who looks the other person in the eye, communicates with CARE, and throws out expectations of response, but takes responsibility for his or her own thoughts, feelings, and desires, is learning the language of relationships. If another can’t communicate like this– model it. Some things are caught, not taught.


Christ and “Into-Me-You-See"

Philippians 4:11 (NASB)
I Corinthians 15:10 (NASB)

“I’ve learned in who I am to be content”

“I am who I am by the grace of God”

By way of review – Relationship is where two people narrate their lives (relate) with one another. That is, I willingly listen to someone speak freely about what they think, feel, believe, fear, hope, and desire. When two people “disconnect” and a relationship crumbles, it’s because the foundation of Christ “as my source” has been destroyed, and one other than God has become my idol, albeit my fallen, faulty idol.

To always hit “reset” when I’m in a relationship that’s gone south, I must learn to say to the one I’m in relationship: “You are neither the source nor the solution for the trouble or pain within me,” and be willing to lovingly say: “I am neither the source nor the solution for the trouble or pain within you.” When we have those two foundational principles present in relationship, then we are ready to move on to a third principle that becomes the source of meaningful personal relationship with another person.

  1. Intimacy is to relationship what milk is to butter; you really don’t have one without the other.
    “Into-me-you-see” – transparency, letting your partner/friend see you as you really are – the good, bad, and the ugly, the freedom to share what is within you. The opposite of intimacy is pretension. Pretension is simply “into me you cannot see.” “Pretend” or “pre”–“tension” simply means that there is a tight wall before me that prevents someone from seeing in me. It is hiding what is really “in me.” A pretender never says what he really thinks, really feels, really desires, or really wants out of fear of the possible reaction of the one he loves. There are several things that inhibit intimacy:
    1. Fear that I will not be loved or accepted if I were truly known.
      This fear begins to disappear when I understand the significance of my relationship with God.
    2. Expectations that I place on the other person which go unmet.
      Why do I struggle with expectations? Because I believe we will be happier if our spouse is a certain way. It is a form of control and it leads to the very opposite of intimacy. When I expect or demand another person to be a certain way, I squelch intimacy in relationship.
    3. Past hurts or painful experiences that cause me to be reserved.

  2. Pretension is natural, but intimacy is supernatural, so there’s a taste of heaven in intimacy.
    Intimacy occurs by God’s grace by knowing who I am and throwing away all expectations.
    1. Unmet expectations cause anger; a red flag that expectations have not been met.
    2. Expectations cause your significant other to lie and hide.
    3. Expectations hinder a spirit of freedom and spontaneity.
      Intimacy is a gift reserved for covenant relationships or those with whom I wish to spend time. Jesus had 12. Paul had his Timothy. We have our spouses, and hopefully other significant friends.

  3. Though intimacy is a gift, it takes practice to develop the joy of intimacy.
    How can you develop intimacy in a relationship with a significant other?
    1. Keep your sharing focused on your own thoughts and feelings. (I feel; I think; I believe).
    2. Each person is free to express his or her feelings without interruptions (feelings are amoral).
    3. Learn to support one another, not “fix” one another; affirmation, acceptance, approbation.
    4. Anonymity and confidentiality are basic requirements in establishing intimacy.
    5. Offensive language has no place in a Christ-centered relationship (hurt people, hurt people).

15 Words that Can Save a Relationship

Philippians 4:19 (NASB)

“My God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory"

In our first lesson, we focused on the root word of relationship (“relate”) which means “to narrate.” The major point was “healthy relationships occur when people are willing listeners for each other’s story.” When I want others to focus on only “the narration of my story,” there’s a disconnection in relationship.

In this lesson, Rachelle and I will show you a principle that - when applied - will transform a relationship.

Jesus is our Creator, Source, Sustainer, our Everything. He meets every need you and I have in this life. We say Amen to this, so why do we live as if another person is our source and solution for what ails us? The most difficult journey in life is the 18 inches trip from the head to the heart; from thinking to feeling.

Rachelle and I have come up with an exercise that helps us in our relationships, and should help you too. When we find ourselves in relational pain or distress, we say fifteen words to ourselves and each other.

“You are neither the source nor the solution for the problem or pain within me.”

  1. This statement admits to others I’m struggling.
  2. This statement takes the blame off of you for my struggles within.
  3. This statement helps me see what the real issues are.
  4. This statement turns me to Jesus Christ as my Source in life.

I first wrote these 15 Words on a website I operate called Istoria Ministries, and people reacted angrily.

We are so accustomed to blaming, shaming and gaming others we don’t like taking responsibility.

It’s difficult for someone in the dark to understand how these 15 Words actually heal relationships. But when you walk into a dark room you don't understand how electricity works, but that doesn't keep you from flipping the switch. One doesn’t have to understand how light works to enjoy its effects. So too, these words are a panacea for broken relationships. You may not understand how they work, but don't let it stop you from saying them. Most relationships spiral downward because one person points the finger at the other person. "You’re the problem!" "If you would only..." "You never..." ""

In relationships built on covenant and commitment, this principle is absolutely essential.

Acquaintances and surface friendships are built on enjoyment. Real connection and relationship is built on love. If you ever want to know the difference between enjoyment and love, look at I Corinthians 13.

There's no doubt that the actions of the one you love can be hurtful or painful; but the Apostle Paul said, "I have learned to be content (i.e. "self-sufficient") in who I am" (Philippians 4:11). Many English translations wrongly translate Philippians 4:11 as "I have learned to be content in whatever state (or circumstances) I am", but the words "state" or "circumstances" are not in the original. Paul learned to be self-satisfied in who he was in Christ. The early Christians sang while being burned at the stake. Why? They had learned how to find self-satisfaction and contentment regardless of their circumstances.


Moving from Fantasy to Reality

Psalm 11:3 (NASB)

“If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?"

Before we begin, let’s talk a little about what to expect in this series.

  1. We’ll be talking about principles that help us in relationships, principles which apply to all relationships, not just marriage.
  2. Grace takes us where we are, never showers regret on where we’ve been.
  3. We all speak as learners, not masters.

Definition: A healthy relationship is when two individuals relate to one another in a healthy manner.

  1. The word relate means “to narrate.”

    A relationship at its core is “the narration of one’s story.” When you know how someone feels, what someone thinks, where someone struggles, and love like Jesus loves, there’s a healthy relationship. Narration is telling one’s story to a willing listener and listening to one’s story by a transparent teller.

  2. A relationship crumbles because the foundations of that relationship are destroyed.

    In Psalm 11 David is surrounded by the enemy. He is “tempted” to “flee like a bird to my mountain.” But “in the Lord I will take refuge” for “when the foundations are destroyed, what can I do?” (v. 3). What is the mountain of your creation that causes you to leave relationships (shut down; cease to relate to, turn your back on, or reject another person)? Disconnection is the death of relationship.

    When I want you to only focus on me and the narration of my story, I am disconnecting from you. When all I care about is my story, I don’t relate well to you. I can say I am listening, but am I really hearing? If I’m only concerned that I’m heard, the foundation of my relationship begins to crumble. People full of love are connected people. People who love are more interested in another’s story. The root of a real relationship is being present with another person and intentionally creating a safe environment where one can take risks and reveal thoughts, feelings, and dreams without rejection.

  3. There are reasons why I become disengaged and my relationships begin to crumble.

    There are always two foundations in any relationship, two stories. Am I very interested in your story? Let’s identify a few odorous toxins that eat away at the foundations of our relationships with others.

    • My Fantasies – I always had an image of what the other person should be and I am disappointed.
    • My Fears – I can’t handle the pain of reality, so I’ll flee to a hiding place of my own creation.
    • My Faults – There’s no way I can risk being seen as imperfect, and I can’t accept your weaknesses.
    • My Faith – is not in Christ and His performance, it’s in my and another person’s performance.

  4. Relating to Jesus well is the primary source for relating well with others.

    It’s no accident that in the 10 Commandments, the first four are vertical, and the last six horizontal. You and I will never relate well with one another until we relate well with the One who created us. Throughout this series we’ll point you to the God of all grace: For graced people live gracious lives. We encourage us all to move from fantasy land to reality. Any healthy relationship requires work.

When the Son Stood Still

Luke 18:35-43 (NASB)

As Jesus was approaching Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the road begging. Now hearing a crowd going by, he began to inquire what this was. They told him that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by. And he called out, saying, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Those who led the way were sternly telling him to be quiet; but he kept crying out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” And Jesus stopped and commanded that he be brought to Him; and when he came near, He questioned him, “What do you want Me to do for you?” And he said, “Lord, I want to regain my sight!” And Jesus said to him, “Receive your sight; your faith has made you well.” Immediately he regained his sight and began following Him, glorifying God; and when all the people saw it, they gave praise to God.

This text is remarkable for several reasons, but the primary one is that it is the only place in the Bible where it is said, Jesus stood still (v. 40, KJV). The NAS translates it “stopped,” but I like the language, “Jesus stood still.” We are told that Jesus went about doing good and that He was constantly on the move. In fact, earlier in this chapter (v. 31), Jesus said to His disciples, “We are going to Jerusalem where the Son of Man will be beaten and killed.” The Messiah says, “I set my face like a flint toward Jerusalem (Isaiah 50:7). As Jesus follows the road to Jerusalem from Jericho we find a blind beggar waits for Him outside the city.

“Son of David, have mercy on me.”

  1. Jesus stood still...
    This stand at attention reminds me of a father who hears his child’s voice call out. It is the posture of someone whose attention has been transfixed by a voice or a phrase. In Joshua’s day ‘the sun stood still... in the middle of the day’ (Joshua 10:13), but surely there is no greater miracle than the Son standing still on His way to Jerusalem to die. The King of Kings stops at the call of a blind man.

  2. Jesus called out...
    We are not sure what Jesus said. The NIV says Jesus said, “Call him," but those words are not in the original. We don’t know if He called Bartimaeus by name or if He simply called out for the man to come. We do know that the call was very personal because everyone told Bartimaeus to go, because “He calls for you” (Mark 10:49). There is no greater honor than the Son of God to call your name.

  3. Jesus reached forth...
    He reached forth to the blind man and said, “What do you want Me to do for you?” (v. 51). We can fathom a king beckoning a servant to do his bidding, but it is a rare thing for a king, much less the King of Kings, to ask a blind beggar what He can do for him. The million-dollar question for us this morning:

Will Jesus Christ ever do the same thing for me?

  1. When I pray like Bartimaeus - “Son of David, have mercy on me! (vs. 38, 39).
    Jesus will walk right past the inn of merit . . . but He takes up residence in the inn of mercy. Mercy --- “relieving one’s misery with the understanding that the misery is deserved.” “The tree of mercy will not drop its fruits unless shaken by the hand of mercy” (Thomas Watson). Do you plead for mercy or merit?

  2. When I persevere like Bartimaeus - “They told him to be quiet, but he cried all the more” (v. 39).
    This prayer for God’s mercy is like the parable of the persistent widow. The blind man did not let his limitations, his friends or his past stop him. He needed a touch from the Savior, and he refused to stop until he found it.

  3. When I am persuaded like Bartimaeus - “Throwing aside his cloak, he came to Jesus” (Mark 10:50).
    Mark’s account uses a strong word (ekballon) to describe how he “cast off’ or “threw” his outer cloak. Blind people don’t cast things off unless they are convinced they can find them again. This story illustrates for us what it means to come to God for forgiveness, peace, or purpose. Call to Him today.

Open Eyes That They May See

Luke 18:31-34 (NASB)

Then He took the twelve aside and said to them, “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and all things which are written through the prophets about the Son of Man will be accomplished. For He will be handed over to the Gentiles, and will be mocked and mistreated and spit upon, and after they have scourged Him, they will kill Him; and the third day He will rise again.” But the disciples understood none of these things, and the meaning of this statement was hidden from them, and they did not comprehend the things that were said.

In this text Jesus tells His disciples all that is about to take place. Jesus will go to Jerusalem, He will be beaten, scourged, die, and rise from the dead “just as the prophets said.” But the disciples understood none of these things. The meaning was hidden from them and they did not comprehend the things said.

The first 17 OT books are historical, 5 are poetical, and the last 17 are prophetical (Isaiah to Malachi). The prophets and the psalmists gave two general categories of Messianic prophecies:

  1. Messianic prophecies related to the greatness and majesty of the Messiah (see Psalm 2).
  2. Messianic prophecies related to the suffering and humiliation of the Messiah (see Psalm 22).

Everything that the Son of Man suffered was revealed in “the prophets” – the 17 OT prophetical books.

  1. The disciples didn’t see the significance of the sufferings of Christ.
    These were men who went every Sabbath to the synagogue and heard the prophets read to them. As Jesus explained how He must be beaten, die, and rise again. They had no wonder or awe of this. Romans 5:8 - “God showed His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
    1. The disciples understood none of these things – like a foreign language (though it wasn’t).
      They expected a temporal prince and a conqueror (as the prophets predicted) and not suffering. Remember this: We too lose sight of the Conquering Christ in the midst of our personal suffering.
    2. The disciples had the meaning hidden from them.
      This is a passive statement. Something or someone has “hidden” this truth of Christ from them. “The god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (II Corinthians 4:4).
    3. The disciples did not comprehend the things said.
      This summary statement simply means there was no personal “laying hold of” the truth.

  2. There is a blindness in the minds of people today regarding Christ.
    “Since the creation of the world God’s invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that all are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but became futile in their speculations, their hearts darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools” (Romans 1:20-22).
    1. Notice, this blindness is both active and passive – “They did not honor God, and their hearts became darkened.” Spiritual darkness is both a decision and a disease; deserved and delivered.
    2. Spiritual blindness is the source of all human decay – “If your eye (of understanding) is bad, your whole body (life) is full of darkness” (Matthew 6:23).

  3. There is a cure for spiritual blindness that is a direct result of God’s mercy.
    Maybe you know or love someone who is blinded to the beauty of Christ’s death and resurrection.
    1. Spiritual blindness is a disease that can be cured by God Himself.
      “For God, who said, "Light shall shine out of darkness," is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ” (II Corinthians 4:6).
    2. Prayer for the blind is the scheduling of an appointment with God Himself.
      “Then Elisha prayed and said, ‘O LORD, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.’ And the LORD opened the servant's eyes and he saw” (II Kings 6:17). When’s the last time you prayed like this?
    3. When a person “turns to the Lord,” the veil of blindness is removed.
      “Whenever a person turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away” (II Corinthians 3:16).

Eternal Life

Luke 18:18-27 (NASB)

A ruler questioned Him, saying, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments, ‘Do not commit adultery, Do not murder, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother.’” And he said, “All these things I have kept from my youth.” When Jesus heard this, He said to him, “One thing you still lack; sell all that you possess and distribute it to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” But when he had heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely rich. And Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God! For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” They who heard it said, “Then who can be saved?” But He said, “The things that are impossible with people are possible with God.”

Many people, when they hear or read the two words “eternal life” think that it’s a reference to heaven. It does mean that, but it also means so much more. Eternal life can begin now. It begins in the believer as soon as he is born-again. It’s the same life which we carry throughout eternity! Eternal life is not a thing of changes. The triumphant life of the Christian now is the triumphant life to be enjoyed hereafter. “The thief steals, kills, and destroys; I come that you might have life, and have it abundantly” (Jn. 10:10). “This is life eternal; to know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (John 17:3).

  1. Eternal life comes as the reward for full and perfect obedience to God’s commands.
    This man asks “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus responds by saying two separate things:
    1. A. “Why do you call Me good? Nobody is good except God alone.”
      Why did Jesus respond this way? “The things that are impossible with people are possible with God” (v. 27). You’ll never know what is possible with God till you know Jesus as God Himself.
    2. “You know the commands – ‘Do not commit adultery; do not murder; do not steal; etc…’”
      Again, why did Jesus respond this way, by reminding the rich young ruler of God’s commands? Immortality is the reward for obedience to God, but “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). This is consistent with Paul’s teaching: “To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor, and immortality, God will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be Gods’ wrath and anger” (Romans 2:7-8).
  2. A self-righteous person will only look at external behaviors and ignore the heart.
    The construction of the book of Luke is not an accident. In the previous verses, Jesus gives a parable about the self-righteous (vs. 9-14) and then He discusses the importance of having a heart like a child. In this segment of Luke, a “rich, young ruler” says he’s “kept the commandments.” Jesus responds:

    “One thing you still lack” (v. 22).
    “Sell all that you possess and distribute it to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven” (v. 22).

    1. When you sell all you have and give to others, you are selfless in your goodness.
    2. When you sell ALL you have and give it away, you are sacrificial in your goodness.
    3. When you sell all you have and follow Jesus, you are sustained in your goodness.
      Who is good and keeps God’s law in all points, at all times, both outwardly and inwardly? Nobody. Except for Jesus: “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake, He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich” (II Corinthians 8:9).
  3. The Gospel or the Good News is that Jesus has done for you what you can’t do yourself.
    When we speak of “asking Jesus into our hearts,” do we know what it is we are actually saying? It’s impossible for someone to appreciate the Lord Jesus Christ until we know what He has done. “We know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified” (Galatians 2:16).
    1. Coming to faith in Christ means God gives you eternal life as a gift (John 3:16; Romans 6:23).
    2. Coming to faith in Christ means God changes you from the inside out (Philippians 1:6).
    3. Coming to faith in Christ means God fully accepts you because of Christ (Philippians 3:7-11).
    4. Coming to faith in Christ means God empowers you to love as He loves you (John 13:34-35).

A Promise Above All Other Promises

Luke 18:28-30 (NASB)

Peter said, “Behold, we have left our own homes and followed You.” And He said to them, “Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who will not receive many times as much at this time and in the age to come, eternal life.”

Not all the promises you are given are the same. Some promises are more important than others. Some have deeper implications and are inviolable. In this text, Jesus gives a promise above all other promises. Remember the context: In Luke 18:18-27 a rich young ruler came to the Lord, fell on his knees, and worshiped Him saying, “Good Teacher, what can I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus answered, “Go, sell all you have, give it to the poor, then come follow Me.” This rich young ruler looked around and said, “No.” Three things will usually keep us from receiving the reign of Christ over us: religion, reputation, and riches.

  1. Choosing Jesus’ Kingdom as the priority of my life means I must let go.
    “Behold, we have left our own and followed You” (v. 28). The word homes is added by the translators. Peter said, “We have left our own” (house, wife, family, job, etc.). Why? For the sake of Christ’s reign. What I own, I let go. He now owns. What I have is no longer mine. I am a steward of the true Owner. This “leaving” is not a lack of charity, it is state of priority. Christ comes before anyone and anything.
    1. This choice to let go always involves a loss – I transfer ownership. I might lose friends, fame, fortune or prestige, people, and possessions. It’s a loss because we leave. Someone asks you to go get drunk; you leave. You are at a gossip bashing party; you walk out. Someone invites you to participate in something you know is immoral, unethical or harmful; you say, “I’m sorry, but I must go.” How can you make a choice to let go?
    2. This choice to let go involves following a boss – (“Take up your cross and follow Me”). For the sake of the kingdom of God – for the sake of the reign of Jesus in your life. I receive His reign in my life as a baby receives his mother – with trust, appreciation, affection, etc...
  2. Choosing Jesus’ Kingdom as the priority of my life means I receive a promise from the King.
    Jesus says that when I let go, I gain so much more. I let go of ownership, He gives me so much more.
    The Promise: Jesus says, “Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who will not receive many times as much at this time and in the age to come, eternal life” (Luke 18:29-30).
    1. This is an all-inclusive promise – “No one who has left … will not receive many times more.”
      No person who receives the reign of Christ is exempt from this promise. All receive it.
    2. This is an immediate promise – “…who will not receive many times as much at this time…”
      My promise for those who give up what they hold dearest for Christ: there will be real, true happiness for them right now, and in the world to come unspeakable joy will be their portion. Jesus said, “I’ve come that you might have a life worth living; a life lived to its fullest (Jn. 10:10).
      1. For your eternal soul.
        Come, sell all that you have and buy the Pearl of Great Price, the Lord Jesus Christ. You will find everything your soul needs in Him; perfect righteousness and full acceptance.
      2. For your physical sustenance.
        “My God will supply everything you need according to His riches in glory” (Philippians 4:19).
      3. For your current situation.
        With God working all things for your good (Romans 8:28), all that’s needed is perspective.
    3. This is an eternal promise – “and in the age to come, eternal (immortal) life” (vs. 30).
      Those who aren’t looking forward to immortal life have never experienced real joy in this life.
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