Sep26SatSeptember 26, 2020
Hello Kingdom citizens,
Ever tried to join something that required prerequisites. I was part of a couple organizations that required an initiation ceremony. You had to pass the approval of a board of people. The tests were usually based on predetermined criteria and the ability to correctly answer questions. Character analysis and witness testimonies were also part of the process. The final decision as to whether I was allowed "in" or not, was totally based on the subjective opinion of those doing the interview. Once you were approved, you moved to the initiation ceremony where you were received by the other members of the "club". I praise God that the only prerequisite to joining the Kingdom of God is faith in Jesus.
Last week, there was a comparison between a Pharisee, dependent on his own self-righteousness, and a tax-collector dependent on the mercy of a forgiving God. The Pharisee's faith was on his own good works, the tax collector was a humble sinner, who believed that God could exalt him, not based on his own merit, but God's grace. As Jesus approaches Jerusalem, just days before His crucifixion, He is making sure people truly understand how salvation and entering the Kingdom of God is possible. This week there are three examples of the prerequisites to entering the kingdom of God.
18:15-17 The first is to be childlike. What is it that a child can teach us about entering the Kingdom of God. Simple faith - children don't need to understand why, they simply believe. They have a wholehearted trust in what the teacher is saying. They are also totally dependent on someone else to lead them and provide for them. Children are very open to learning things they don't yet know or understand. Lastly, they are not yet corrupted by the world; there is a certain purity about them. Trust, dependence, openness, purity are necessities to having the faith to enter the Kingdom of God.
18:18-30 The second lesson Jesus teaches about entering the Kingdom of God, is a willingness to part with the world and its riches. We cannot put riches before following Jesus. Notice the synonyms for salvation: Inherit eternal life (v.18); enter the Kingdom of God (vss. 24-25); be saved (v.26); follow Jesus (vvs. 22, 28). Here is what Jesus says to the rich man, “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.” In other words, money is your idol! You love riches more than God! Even though you think you are keeping all of the commandments, there is a problem with your love for God, it is competing against your love for money! This totally speaks to our consumer driven North American culture. Remember these words, "Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God." (Luke 6:20) The message is clear, in order to gain the kingdom, one has to be willing to part with the idols, and loves of our life; even family (vss. 29-30). Faith not finances gets you in.
18:35-43 The third and final lesson this chapter presents us with in order to enter the kingdom of God is found in the story of the blind beggar who gets his sight. The blind man, like the tax collector is in need of mercy. Like the children, he is totally dependent on God for deliverance from his plight. This man has faith - he believes Jesus is the "Son of David" - the Messiah. He believes blindly, that Jesus is who He says He is and has the power to set him free. Trust, dependence and faith - he has what is necessary to be saved (the Greek word for "healed" is "sozo" - meaning saved). Notice the fruit of receiving salvation - he followed Jesus and praised God (vs. 43). Faith in Jesus means you will follow Him wherever he leads. This man may have been physically blind, but he had spiritual sight to see Jesus for who He was. Being poor and desperate, not relying on his own strengths and abilities, he was ripe to receive salvation. Notice also his persistence in asking. What does he do when rebuked and told to be silent...he yells even louder (v.39). He is like the persistent widow who got what she was asking for. Both did not give up, nor lose heart.
Chapter 18 is one complete unit. Luke has assembled these accounts to demonstrate to his audience what is needed for true salvation and entrance into the Kingdom of God. This chapter speaks to us on so many levels...how does it speak to you? Meditate on its words and allow Holy Spirit to teach you.