O give thanks unto the Lord for He is good, His mercy endures forever (1 Chr 16:34). Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church - Winnipeg, MB
Pry it from my Dead Cold Hands
Pry it from my Dead Cold Hands
Based on Mark 10:17-22
Preached on October 14, 2018
Click on the Play button
to listen to the Sermon.
In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
There’s a rich man. Down on his knees in the street. You don’t see that everyday. He’s come to see Jesus. And he’s not just any rich man, you’d like him. He’s an honourable man. Upright. Kind. The type of guy you want to hang out with. Makes a really good friend. Or a really reliable business partner. And he’s a good son. But even with that all going for him, this man’s not ashamed to sprint in public – like that person who chases the bus for two blocks just to catch it – you know – but this man’s not running after a bus – he’s chasing down Jesus who had already started His journey to Jerusalem.
He’s headed to Jerusalem. For the last time. He’s fixated on it. His cross and death. THE moment that all of creation has been waiting for. It’s in His eyes. Permeates His mind. And so it is very, very interesting what happens when these two men meet.
“Good Teacher,” the rich man says kneeling before Him, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” And you might be thinking, “Do?!? That’s not how an inheritance works. You don’t do anything to inherit something. You inherit things based on who you are.” In Jesus’ day you had to be the firstborn Son.
The rich man thinks there’s something he can do. He is certain – and he tells himself if anyone can do it – he can. He can do what it takes. He can prove he is good enough.
No one is good, but God alone. Hear the Lord say it to this man. No one is good, but God alone. This should have been his first hint. If you thought you’d come up to me and prove to me how good you are – just stop. No one is good but God alone. Don’t compare yourself to other people. Don’t compare yourself to your old self, from when you were a teenager. The only One you should compare yourself to - is God. No matter how you see yourself – your goodness doesn’t get you the inheritance. I mean, you know the commandments – do you really think you’ve kept them?
And so bravely and blindly - the rich man says, “Yes. All these I have kept since my youth.” So far in the story, we’ve been able to keep up with Jesus. We’ve been able to keep up with the rich man. But it’s here that our Lord makes the jump into hyperspace. Nothing can prepare you for what He says next.
“Go, sell all that you have and give it to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” Here is the moment when heaven touches earth. Here is the moment you and I realize what is really going on. Jesus makes Himself the comparison point. He is the One who left the treasures of heaven, that He might come and give His life to the poor. To the spiritually bankrupt – those who are not good – Christ marches to Jerusalem to give all that He has – all His goodness, all His righteousness, all His holiness – to the likes of sinners like you and me and this man on his knees in front of Him.
Oh, you want to see what needs to done for you to inherit eternal life. Come. I’ll show you. You see, I’m the only Son of God. I get the inheritance – but I’m headed to Jerusalem to sell Myself into the hands of sinners, so that you will have treasure in heaven. So that your heart will have true rest. So that you will inherit eternal life in Me alone. Come. Follow Me. And I’ll show you.
But the rich man won’t go. His heart will not lay hold of Christ – the one thing he lacks – the one thing anyone needs - because sadly - his heart is too busy clinging to something else. It even makes him sad. He leaves – disheartened – because he has a lot of stuff.
There is one place where your heart is safe friends. And it is not a bank account. But knowing that reality does not make the temptation go away, does it? Think about it. How firmly does your heart hold onto your stuff? How quickly does your heart race to reassure you that everything is ok because you have enough money – or promise you everything will be better when you have more money?
It’s an incredible temptation. One of the most common idols – we build our entire lives around comforting our heart with financial security – God asks for His worship to shape one day a week – the other six we spend sacrificing at the altar of money – bowing and scraping, wishing and praying. The hands of our hearts are supposed to cling to God, but they are far too busy clinging to money. They’re clamped to it. Cramped around it. Rigamortised. Pry-it-from-my-dead-cold-hands-convinced that it will keep us secure and give us rest – what a lie!
I don’t know if you’ve ever had to go to the home of an elderly person who has died, or who has recently moved into a care home – never to use their things again. It’s an intense thing to do. Humbling – because you come face-to-face with your own hypocrisy. All those things that you worked so hard to get - left there – most of it - not wanted by the next generation who are saddled with the enormous task of figuring out what to do with all of it. It doesn’t keep your life. It comes and it goes, and in a couple generations its all forgotten.
Job captured this in his classic line: “Naked, I came from the womb, and naked, I go to my tomb. The LORD has given, and the LORD has taken away. Blessed be the Name of the LORD.”
Because He has not forgotten you. He has engraved you on the palms of His hands. His dead cold hands did not cling to stuff - but clung to the blood-soaked nails for you – clung to His Father in utter faith for you – clung to your forgiveness, life and salvation. There is no treasure in all the world that compares to Him. There is no treasure in all of heaven that compares to Him. For this living One, who loves you, offers His pure heart for your unbelieving heart – His goodness for your ungoodness – His inheritance for your condemnation. Sell all that you have and give it to the poor. Yes He does.
Jesus invites you - to come and join in heaven’s table. He has prepared a feast of eternal riches – the body and blood of God given and shed for you – a pledge of His eternal inheritance! You don’t do anything to inherit it. You simply receive it from Him by faith as a gift, because He has made you His child in Holy Baptism – united and located you in His Son Jesus in whom your heart may rest. This is where you belong, and where your heart shall live forever.
So if you know you have a heart that seeks after empty things, like mine, don’t give it any room. Come. Here. Eat. Receive. As often as you can. And set your heart on your giving God and His gifts of grace every day.
You don’t worship God by following a bunch of rules. You worship Him by letting go of the idols of your heart and trusting Him. By following Him to your death and grave – certain that the gift is eternal life. Beloved, whatever your financial situation is – leave it in God’s hands. Set your heart on His gifts. For His promise stands – you will have treasure with Him in heaven. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Rev. Cameron Schnarr