One of the consistent and repetitive themes of the gospel is that Jesus’ presentation of God’s kingdom on earth is VERY different from the way the kingdoms of this world work – whether that’s the leaders of Israel or Caesar in Rome or any president in our country.
This Sunday we’ll be reading Luke 18:15-30 as we move ahead in our study of this Gospel.
We’ve seen all through this gospel that what Jesus presented and MODELED in his ministry and teachings was quite different from what people were expecting when God’s will is done on earth like its done in heaven.
This, of course, is the calling of the church – to LIVE this upsidedowness out in our own understanding of self, and how it is we relate to the people around us.
This is what Jesus means when he talks about entering the kingdom –we usually relegate that to “going to heaven when I die” – but that’s just one small aspect of it.
The passage we’ll be reading contains two encounters which highlight the subversive nature of God’s kingdom and identifies ways that we enter the kingdom – that is, how we represent it into our world.
In v 15-17 we find the famous account of Jesus blessing the children. In the ancient world, children were not protected nor given any of the agency many children of our present age have. They were humans of non-status. What might that indicate to us about how we are to represent God’s kingdom to the world around us?
We encounter the rich, religious leader in v18-30, who, according to his own testimony, is a decent guy who cares about the law of Moses. He is the picture of success in any culture, including our own. We’ll go into more detail on Sunday about the interaction between Jesus and this guy– but let’s focus on what Jesus tells him. He has everything going on for him by the world’s standards, and that is the very place where Jesus places the ax in his response. “Here’s what you lack – here’s what you could do to be complete – sell all your stuff and give it to the poor and you’ll have riches in heaven and you can follow me.” That was a bridge too far for that young man.
The Bible has a lot of challenging things to say about wealth and the eagerness for riches. Why do you suppose the young man walked away from Jesus at this point? What would you be afraid of losing when it comes to following Jesus? It’s a tough question, I know.
There will be a lot to consider as we examine this text – I hope you can join us as we do!