The PRICE of ADMISSION
October 26, 2014
Topic: Matthew Passage: Matthew 19:13–19:30
“Matthew: Gospel of the Grace of God”
“The PRICE of ADMISSION”
In 1 Tim. 1:15, Paul stated, “The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.”
It’s wonderfully TRUE that Christ SAVES sinners!
But it is EQUALLY true - & it is critically URGENT to RECOGNIZE this truth – that Christ CANNOT save someone who is UNWILLING to RECOGNIZE that he is INDEED a SINNER, in desperate NEED of SALVATION.
With this fresh REMINDER of that critical DISTINCTION, we examine our passage today.
We must BEGIN by recognizing the CONTRAST between those whom Jesus warmly RECEIVES, vs. one He seemingly SHOULD receive GLADLY, yet who ultimately FAILS to receive the SALVATION he so DESPERATELY needed.
Once again, the CHILDREN come into view: Vs.13-15 (18:1-3, 5, 12).
It is important that we read this brief paragraph before turning to the familiar story of the “rich young ruler,” because the remainder of the chapter will prove to us that these CHILDREN turned out to be NEARER to the kingdom than most would have expected, while the RICH man proved that he was must FURTHER from the kingdom than ANYONE would have suspected.
Jesus CORRECTS His disciples for wanting to DRIVE AWAY those who were bringing the little children to Him, but in the next paragraph He seems to DRIVE AWAY an EARNEST young man who seemingly WANTED to be His DISCIPLE.
In fact, Jesus does not seem to TRY to win him over, DESPITE his earnestness.
This familiar encounter proves how some people may show great INTEREST in the GOSPEL, but never actually SURRENDER their LIVES to the Lordship of Christ.
It begins with:
A WONDERFUL QUESTION: v.16.
Mark adds that the man came RUNNING & KNELT before Jesus, & Luke adds that he was a RULER, probably a SYNAGOGUE ruler.
So we know that he was already an INFLUENTIAL man in his community, a RELIGIOUS leader who was also WEALTHY.
Yet, DESPITE all that he seemingly had GOING for him, this man does something here that was UNEXPECTED: he ADMITTED that he NEEDED eternal life, & he CAME to JESUS to FIND it.
We need to appreciate that this was a significantly HUMBLE thing for this man to do, RISKING his REPUTATION.
COMING to Jesus in the midst of these PARENTS who were bringing their CHILDREN, it was as if he were saying, “I NEED your help as much as these CHILDREN do.”
Therefore, we KNOW from his question 3 important TRUTHS about this man:
He SOUGHT the RIGHT THING (eternal life);
He sought the RIGHT PERSON (Jesus Christ);
He ASKED the RIGHT QUESTION: v.16b. So FAR, so GOOD!
It would certainly SEEM that the time was RIPE for Jesus to eagerly RECEIVE this young man.
John MacArthur: “He was ready to sign the card, raise his hand, walk the aisle, or whatever.”
And he would have been WELCOMED THAT DAY as a MEMBER in most churches.
And yet, Jesus responds in a somewhat CURIOUS manner: V.17a.
It’s as if Jesus were saying, “ONLY GOD is good; are you then saying that you believe that I am GOOD, & therefore I am GOD? (So far, the man had only acknowledged Jesus as a TEACHER.)
WHY didn’t Jesus “CLOSE the DEAL” here? Because He knew that this man lacked a CRITICAL ESSENTIAL for SALVATION: a keen AWARENESS of his SINFULNESS.
We discover that by how the conversation continues: V.17b.
WHY did Jesus bring up the COMMANDMENTS? NOT to show him HOW to be SAVED, but to help him see that he NEEDED to be saved, & that he COULD NOT be saved by trying to KEEP God’s COMMANDMENTS.
Rom. 3:20: “For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.”
Vs.18-20 – this part of the conversation reminds us of a CRUCIAL REALITY regarding EVANGELISM: BEFORE a person can RECEIVE the FREE GIFT of God, they must clearly see that they have BROKEN the LAW of God. They CANNOT EARN their SALVATION; they need GRACE.
This man had already ADMITTED that there was something he DID NOT have – ETERNAL LIFE – but he was UNWILLING to admit there was something he DID have: SIN.
V.20 – the young man was probably being SINCERE in his RESPONSE to Jesus, but he was sincerely WRONG.
We are CONDEMNED by the LAW of God, not JUSTIFIED. Our ONLY HOPE is the GRACE of God!
V.21 – Mark tells us that Jesus looked at the man & “loved him” (10:21) when He gave this command.
V.22 – there was CLEARLY a command that the man HAD NOT kept: “You shall have no other gods before me.” (Exod. 20:3)
WEALTH was this man’s TRUE GOD; a god which, when challenged, he COULD NOT forsake.
We must be willing to REPUDIATE ANYTHING that would KEEP US from FOLLOWING Jesus.
He WANTED SALVATION, but he ALSO wanted to KEEP his POSSESSIONS even MORE.
CONTRAST this with ANOTHER rich man whom Jesus encountered: Luke 19:8-9.
Then, Jesus delivers:
A STUNNING STATEMENT: v.23. Then, stressing the IMPORTANCE of this truth, He EMPHASIZES it with an ILLUSTRATION: V.24.
In other words, it is IMPOSSIBLE.
By the way, we usually fail to realize that WE have the SAME PROBLEM as those we see as WEALTHY: ANY amount of wealth, great or small, can TEMPT us to SELF-SUFFICIENCY or DEPENDENCE.
A STUNNED RESPONSE: v.25.
Like any good Jew of that day, the disciples believed that WEALTH was PROOF of God’s APPROVAL of a person.
If EVEN THESE found it practically IMPOSSIBLE to enter the Kingdom of God, then WHAT about all the REST of us?
V.26a – Jesus makes an important CLARIFICATION with this statement: being SAVED by HUMAN EFFORT is IMPOSSIBLE for ANYONE – but GOD can do what WE CANNOT do: v.26b.
WE are SEVERELY LIMITED, but GOD is NOT. He can SAVE ANYBODY – rich or poor, weak or strong, good or evil.
Finally, Peter’s QUESTION gives Jesus the opportunity to provide His followers with WONDERFUL ASSURANCE: vs.27-29.
Here is the awesome truth: NO one who FOLLOWS Jesus will be CHEATED out of ANYTHING. There are RICH REWARDS in the AGE to COME, and in THIS AGE.
Therefore, when Jesus CALLS upon us to be willing to SACRIFICE EVERYTHING in order to FOLLOW Him, He is only making it possible for us to receive the GREATEST REWARDS.
Therefore, Peter & his friends “were not making sacrifices; they were making investments.” (Warren Wiersbe)
Think about it: ALREADY NOW believers have 100X as many FAMILY MEMBERS & POSSESSIONS as before, as we are now part of the vast FAMILY of GOD.
V.30 – one meaning: those who have the MOST HERE will not necessarily have the most IN HEAVEN.
A SECOND meaning is found in the NEXT CHAPTER.
It was Jim Elliot, the famous missionary martyr, who wrote shortly before his death: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”
Have you ADMITTED your SIN?
Have you ACKNOWLEDGED your NEED for a SAVIOR?
Have you WILLINGLY SURRENDERED EVERYTHING that would HINDER a relationship with Jesus Christ?
Then Christ GLADLY RECEIVES you, & He GRACIOUSLY GIVES you BLESSINGS that will require an ETERNITY to enjoy.