Every Wednesday, I do a Midweek Vespers video where we come together for prayer and reflection. I will start posting them here on Wednesdays. Below is today’s video.
Midweek Vespers is a time when we gather to reflect and pray for our world. Join us each Wednesday at 5:30 PM Central fccsaintpaul.org
This week’s episode: From Matthew 19, Jesus meets a well-to-do young man who asks what he needs to do to have eternal life. Jesus’ answer? Everything and nothing at all.
Jesus drives a hard bargain, doesn’t he? A young man comes by to ask what he can do to obtain eternal life. Jesus repeats back to him the law, which the young man said he had followed since he was a child? Then, Jesus asks him to sell all he has to poor and then follow Jesus. That was too much for the young man who walked away sad.
One of the questions that I have is why did the young man ask the question anyway? He had followed the law, but he seemed to think he was still not doing something right. When Jesus throws him for a loop, that is usually interpreted as his holding on too much to his possessions. There is some truth to that, but what if this is also showing that using the law as a checklist will never bring salvation. The young man did everything that was required of him, but when Jesus told him to give everything to the poor, he realized how high the cost would be and for him the cost was far too much.
Jesus didn’t come to get rid of the law, but to bring it to fulfillment. Using the law in the way the young man did would never bring the righteousness he longed for. Jesus was asking him to see the law in a different way- as a relationship with God and with his neighbors. The grace of Jesus Christ doesn’t take away the law, it helps us to see it in a different way.
A rich man can’t enter heaven, not without the grace of Jesus. The young man believed he could do it with his hard work under the law. But that wasn’t going to work when it asked so much of him.
So, what about us? We still tend to think that doing things is what brings us salvation. However, it is only Jesus that can save us. The apostle Paul shares in 1 Corinthians 13 that even if he gave everything it would not amount to much. “If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.”
Grace doesn’t do away with the law, but it changes its meaning. Following the law is about relationship and not about getting brownie points. We can get off the treadmill that keeps us trying to please God and others and enter into the gracious love of Jesus.
What must you do to gain eternal life? Everything and nothing at all.