Job 23:1-9, 16.17, Mark 10:17-31, Hebrews 4:12-16
Noel Gallagher was the lead guitarist, co-lead vocalist and principal songwriter of the hugely successful British rock band Oasis and while I had little knowledge of their music, I knew he was well known for his exploits and controversial outspoken statements as reported in the newspapers.
A fact that he knew of himself as seen in his acknowledged of such indiscretions in his song titled “My Big Mouth”.
What a difference fifteen minutes can make as ironically after seeing him on T.V. in a chat show my preconceived perceptions were changed to that of seeing an intelligent, witty and humorous straight shooting likable person, and like him or loath him, it would seem that the unexpected popularity of Donald Trump in the U.S. Presidential race is in effect from his shoot from the hip, impolitically correct and what you see is what you get statements.
Today, you would have noticed that our scripture passages were read in a different manner with firstly the Old Testament, then the Gospel and finally the epistle. The reason being that these three messages from scripture in that order, give a very clear message for us as the method of the Bible was composed. The history and background of God’s people the Jews that shows us why they believe what they do, why they worship and act as they do and ultimately why this confused and overshadowed their acceptance of the much awaited Messiah. A situation of preconceived ideas and confusion that feeds into the Gospel where a radical Jew by the name of Jesus appears on the scene performing unfathomable miracles and in many ways, unfashionable home truths to the Church elite. The simple yet cutting-edge state of the art words of the Gospel of Christ given further understanding of their impact on our lives through the ongoing teaching and preaching from the God inspired messengers of the New Testament epistles.
The Old Testament where Job, a legendary man of faith but here after suffering unthinkable situations, has been led by well-intentioned colleagues to a mixed state of mind to where God has seemingly become his enemy, acting randomly and unkindly, while yet in his heart of faith still recognizing that God makes and carries out his own plan for his servants even if they cannot comprehend how or why.
An unimaginable situation and time of testing that without faith and hope would most surely have crushed even the resoluteness of the much esteemed Job.
The faith and hope that Jesus shows to the God following rich man in the Gospel who wanting to, yet unable to carry out Jesus’ instructions of giving away all his wealth to follow Him, hears that “it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.”
No doubt unsettling for that man as it so should be for us because as with senselessly trying to class our levels of sin up and against others, so to with wealth. Because what is rich. Is it Warren Buffet or James Packer? Are you rich if you can provide a loan, or rich if given approved to receive a loan based of your ability to repay it? And what of the Australian living in what is conceived as of humble proportions and yet of extravagance to that of the villagers in parts of our world where daily survival is from searching through others rubbish, begging or the soul destroying reality that the making available of their only asset, their body is the only thing that stands between starvation and life.
It’s a scenario that, like my catalogue of ever growing sins and ever growing inability to fit into my once comfortable jeans sees our eyes shifted to the reality of Jesus words and cling to His promise that “With man it is impossible (to enter the kingdom of God), but not with God. For all things are possible with God.”
It’s refreshing to know that all things are possible with God; it may be also refreshing for you to know that tomorrow it is possible that I will give up smoking.
It’s a bit of I hope it’s so, but with the clause of we’ll just have to wait and see.
John F. Kennedy in his inaugural address after being elected famously said “ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country” and in matters of salvation the same could be said of those who acknowledge Jesus as the Son of God and trust in His Words of salvation as from that eventful day some 2,000 years ago where the promised Messiah, the Son of God, Jesus Christ the Savior willingly gave His life by hanging on a cross and defeated Satan and the once damning legacy of our sins and his accusations. Our Savior who three days later rose to announce the legacy of God’s love as seen in Him-Jesus who once and for all sees us never need search in vain or wonder of God again-but see the truth that is Jesus Christ.
The truth explained to us in today’s Hebrews scripture: “Since then we have a high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
With confidence let us draw near to the throne of grace. The grace showered over His persecutors from a top His cross when Jesus asked His Father “to forgive them for they know what they do.” The grace that the gangs, the so called gang bangers of Los Angeles who knowing no other way to survive do what they do, yet still draw near the grace of God through Christ as evidenced by tattoos to where a cross below the eye is to that of “crying for Christ”, a tattoo on the wrist is too “bleed for Christ” and with one on the heart declaring to “die for Christ.”
The grace that two of the Bali nine rested their eternal lives upon who after being ministered to over the years by an Irish born priest and had heard through Him the call of Christ, were able to receive their human life death penalty, though tied with cable ties to crosses with their arms outstretched and legs strapped at the bottom, were said to be of joyous spirit and singing with some gusto the Hymn amazing grace.
Some would argue of the lack of spiritual fruit displayed by the ongoing actions of many I have listed, but as to what is the measure of wealth, so too what is the life changing fruit of the spirit to one born within an urban battle zone to one born to devout Christian parents within a stable political environment.
Yes, the Church is within its rights and implored to explain and direct sinners towards the law of God which is good. His law that keeps a lid on earths Chaos and his law that leads to turning back towards Christ as we see our inability to pass through the eye of a needle like that of the camel.
Sinners like us who do not cast the first stone at others for we know that if not for Christ, it is we that would feel the first stone strike.
On any given day of the week in worship, at home or on the battle field countless souls will kneel before the throne of Christ in prayer and trust in the only thing they can, that what is impossible for them is not in God as they rest in the reconciling truth and mediator that is Jesus Christ.
Today we come before the throne of God, and be it with heaviness of sin or with sin unknown to us, whether it be your first time or the continuation of your customary routine-today before the throne of God, be it that your rivers have run dry or your wells overflowing, today here, and when you return home you stand before the throne of God in the presence of His Son Jesus, who having walked your journey and seen it’s traps and snares stands with you before His father with his own crown of righteous placed upon your head to hear “yes my son”, to these I give eternal life. Amen.