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TO ENTER THE KINGDOM OF GOD

Luke 8:15-8:30
Key Verse: 8:22

This passage is recorded in three gospels – Matthew, Mark and Luke, which shows the importance of this passage. In this passage Jesus encountered three different kinds of people. Children, rich young man, and his disciples. In each case, Jesus introduces and directs us to the kingdom of God, and teaches us the right attitudes we must have to enter the kingdom of God.

First, Let the little children come to me. (15-17) Look at verse 15, “People were also bringing babies to Jesus for him to place his hands on them. When the disciples saw this, they rebuked them.” It is said that usually mothers brought their babies to Rabbi for blessing. Surely they brought their babies to Jesus so that Jesus may touch them and bless them with God’s blessing. But when the disciples saw this, they rebuked them. Maybe they were annoyed by the noise of babies or did not want for Jesus to be distracted by this little children. One thing is clear that they did not consider the presence of children important. In ancient culture, children were ignored until they were old enough to be useful. Especially, the babies here were too young to be considered important for the disciples. But how did Jesus respond to their coming? Look at verse 16, “But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” Here Jesus turns the event into two-level lesson, one about children, the other about disciples. Jesus considered them very important and welcomed them to the kingdom of God. The kingdom of God is not only for adults, but also for children. We should not ignore children no matter how young they are. Children are hope for the future, and we are very much concerned about early child education. More than that, spiritual education in the word of God is critical for their future. We must welcome them remembering that Jesus welcomed them. Then what does it mean to the disciples when Jesus say that the kingdom of God belongs to such little children? Look at verse 17, “I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” Jesus teaches us the right attitude of heart to enter the kingdom of God.

Jesus calls us to become like children. He never tells us to be childish in a sense of being simplistic, but he does tell us to be “childlike.” Children tend to be open, receptive, trusting, humble, loving and forgiving. It’s been said that healthy child is creative, imaginative and curious. They are always curious, and keep asking “Why?” or “How?” That is the reason children are growing constantly physically, mentally and spiritually. Most of all, to be childlike is opposite of being independent and ‘grown up.’ We become like a child again when we show and share our earnest feelings, acknowledge how fragile and vulnerable we are and how much we need God and other people. We can come to God like a child, calling God “Abba Father.” When we share our earnest feelings and fully trust in him for his rule and provision and guidance, the peace of God will guard our hearts and we will experience the kingdom of God even in the midst of troubles of life. I realize that I became ‘grown up’ and too formal in my relationship with God. May God help me to become like a child again in my relationship with my Father in heaven.

Second, No one is good – except God alone.(18-21) Look at verse 18. “A certain ruler asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” All three Synoptic gospel writers recorded about this man. This is also a real story, not a parable. Luke called him a certain ruler. But we can call him “a rich young ruler” based on other gospels. He had youth, wealth and power. Who on earth can be better than him? This man seems to have everything this world can offer. But he felt something was missing after getting everything he wanted. That is why he came to Jesus in desperation and asked a question? “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life.?” Ecclesiastes 3:11 says, “He has also set eternity in human heart…” Man will never be satisfied until he inherit eternal life because God has set eternity in human heart.

Then what can we know about this man through his question to Jesus? The fact that he called Jesus “Good teacher,” shows us about his life. He was a good man. He tried his best to live a good life. As a result, he earned respect of the community as a ruler. He also gained wealth and power. He also thought he can inherit eternal life by living a good life. That is why he asked Jesus, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

What did Jesus tell him? Look at verse 19. “Why do you call me good? Jesus answered. “No one is good – except God alone.” Jesus was not trying to deny that he is good. Jesus said this in order to help this good man the right concept of goodness. Jesus said this in order to lead him to God. No one is good, except God alone. This is the constant teachings of the Bible. The rich young ruler thought he was a good man. He looked good and felt good and had the goods. But one problem with good life is that it is never good enough. Once the prophet Isaiah said that all our righteous acts are like a filthy rags. When a man stands before God who is absolutely good then can he find who he really is. He is a sinner.

Look at verse 20. “You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.” To this good man, Jesus gave the second table of Ten Commandments. Jesus told him God’s commandments so that he might see himself correctly before the word of God. This is the function of the law. So Paul said in Galatians 3:24, “So the law was our guardian until Christ came that we might be justified by faith.” It is like a tutor or schoolmaster. It is also like a mirror in which we can see our true selves before. It helps us to see our true self, and that is the beginning of our salvation. The law of God leads us to the salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.

The best example of this is Apostle Paul. In Romans 7:7-25, he wrote his desperate struggle to obey the law of God, especially, the tenth commandment, “You shall not covet,” which is the only commandment that deals with our heart and inner desires. The more he struggled to live by this word, he saw that all kinds of covetous desires arose in his heart and made him a slave of that desires. Finally, he cried out in his helplessness, “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?” He deeply despaired in his sinfulness, but soon he burst with joy and thanks when he found salvation in Jesus. “Thanks be to God -- through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

What was this rich young ruler’s response to Jesus’ word? “All these I have kept since I was a boy,” he said. His answer shows that he did not have such a desperate struggle before the word of God like Paul. If he had struggled sincerely before God, he would have found himself as a sinner who is not capable of obeying even one commandment of God. His confident answer shows that he had kept the law of God superficially and literally in order to appear as good man before people. But there was no inner struggle before God. This man had no personal relationship with God. In fact, he had no God in his heart.

Third, You will have treasure in heaven. (22-30) Look at verse 22. When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” Jesus said “one thing he lack.” But in fact, it was a big issue in his life. That was his love of earthly treasures such as wealth, power. Respect, and everything he treasured more than God. Jesus challenged him to sell everything and give to the poor. In fact, the main point of God’s commandments is to love God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength, and love your neighbor as yourself. But this man did not love God nor his neighbors. He loved himself more than God. He loved himself more than his neighbors. Jesus said this so that he may turn his heart from earthly treasures to God. It was a call to repentance from the love of earthly treasures to the love of God. It was a call to paradigm shift of his life from his self-centered life to God-centered life and the life of giving. It was an invitation to treasures in heaven he eagerly wanted, that is, his salvation and eternal life.

What Jesus asked him seems too radical and too demanding. It seems he should give up everything and become penniless. But look at verse 22b again, “and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” God will give him treasure in heaven that cannot be compared with what he treasured in his life. In Matthew 13:44, Jesus told us about the parable of the hidden treasure. “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.” When the man found a hidden treasure in a field, he sold everything he had with great joy to buy that field. We all know that we can live a best life each day when we think that today is the last day of our life. Suppose today is the last day of your life. What would you do when Jesus asks you to sell everything and give to the poor and then you will heave treasure in heaven? Would you not choose the treasure in heaven rather than the treasure that will last only one day? Our life on earth is like a day when we compare it eternal life we would spend in the kingdom of God. In fact, we never know today might be the last day of our life. But we are most blessed when we have this treasure in heaven while living in this world. Jesus said in Matthew 6:19-21, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” When we store up our treasure in heaven, we can be truly free from the treasures of this world and love God with all our hearts and with all our soul and with all our strength, and love our neighbors as our selves. We can overcome the temptations of this world and truly live God-centered, and mission-centered life for God’s glory. We can truly follow Jesus and grow as disciples of Jesus and good steward of gospel ministry.

I thought I gave up everything for Jesus when I left my country to this mission land. But even though I physically left everything, I did not leave earthly treasures in my heart, especially my desire for human success and human recognition. Because of these inner desires, I was constantly troubled with myself and with others. In fact, I was in trouble with God because I loved myself more than God. I repent of my desire for worldly treasure. May God help me to put my hope in treasure in heaven and love God with all my heart each day as if today is the last day of my life.

What was the man’s response to Jesus’ invitation to the treasures in heaven? Look at verse 23. “When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was very wealthy.” Jesus called the rich young ruler to God-centered life. He invited him to be one of his disciples. Perhaps Jesus saw in him the potential to be like the apostle Peter, or Matthew, or one of the others who responded positively when Jesus said, ‘Follow me.” But we learn that the more we accumulate the harder it is to live God-centered life. We also learn that it requires a personal decision of faith to follow Jesus.

Look at verse 24, 25. “Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eyes of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” It is very hard for the rich to enter the kingdom of God -- not because the standards are higher, but because the risk appears greater as in the case of the rich young ruler. Look at verse 26, “Those who heard this asked, “Who then can be saved?” It was shocking to them because they thought richness is God’s blessing. Jesus replied, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.” In fact, it is impossible for any one of us, including the rich, to enter the kingdom of God on the strength of our own performance. Yet with God it is possible for anyone, including the rich, to enter the kingdom of God. God made it possible for sinners to enter the kingdom of God through Jesus’ death and resurrection. Only through grace alone and faith alone, we can be saved and enter the kingdom of God. We can also participate in God’s salvation work through faith in God alone. God gave us the gospel though Jesus’ death and resurrection. It is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believe. (Romans 1:16)

Look at verse 28, 29. Peter said to him. “We have left all we had to follow you!” Peter and other disciples are those who responded to Jesus’ challenge and made a radical decision in their life. They gave up everything in order to follow Jesus. To them, Jesus made a wonderful promise. Look at verse 29. “I tell you the truth,” Jesus said to them, “no one who has left home or wife or brothers or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God will receive many times as much in this age, and in the age to come eternal life.” The disciples looked stupid when they made such a radical change in their life. But they are truly wise people because they have the promise of Jesus who is the Lord of all things, in heaven and on earth.

When we make decision to follow Jesus and live for the sake of the kingdom of God, it is easy to be afraid of losing everything we treasured and enjoyed in the world. Jesus will make our life rich and abundant many times in this age, and in the age to come with eternal life. There is nothing more rewarding than following Jesus.

As I close this message, I want to share a famous quote from an American missionary to Latin America. Jim Elliot. He died young after just starting his mission work in Ecuador, being killed with four others by the native Indians whom he tried to convert. Later, someone found in his dairy the following words. “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” He looks a fool and his life seems wasted. But he is a truly wise man because he gave what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose, that is eternal life!

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