“What’s in it for me?” Boy, if this isn’t the way our society and culture thinks! If someone helps you, they often expect you to return the favor. There always seems to be strings attached, because we have set ourselves up as a very selfish society.
Jesus has been healing people, feeding 5,000, debating with the Pharisees, calming storms, and walking on the water. Then, a group of people bring little children to Jesus to place His hands of blessing on them. [Side note: who are you putting your hands of blessing on? In our busyness, we often never hug, kiss, pat, put our arm around, and hold a hand with anyone anymore. Physical touch is important to speaking value and blessing on another. Put your hands on some people today and bless them!] The disciples begin to rebuke the people for doing that, as if Jesus is a celebrity and too important to waste His time on such nonsense as a bunch of children. Jesus reiterates (because the disciples didn’t get it the first time….like us!) what He already had said earlier: the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like children (18:3): open, receiving, trusting, not prejudice, and free. Then, Jesus put His hands on them (in Jesus’ day this was a form of blessing). DID JESUS GET ANYTHING OUT OF THAT? nope
Jesus has a dialogue with a wealthy young man. Four things were talked about by the rich man in this conversation, and Jesus addressed each one.
1) He called Jesus, “teacher“: Jesus responded as He did because either Jesus was God in the flesh or just a good man; if He were just a good man, then He couldn’t help this young man attain eternal life; but if He was God made flesh, He was the only way to eternal life. The man needed to figure that out first: is Jesus really the Son of God, the Messiah? DO YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE TALKING TO?
2) “What must I do?“: The young man thought that He could do all the right things and that would earn His salvation. For surely eternal life couldn’t be FREE. Yet Jesus pulls out all the commands to show the young man that the Law was mighty demanding and no one could keep it perfectly. No performance is necessary to receive Jesus. He is just a free gift of Divine Love. ARE YOU PERFORMING TO GET GOD’S APPROVAL?
3) “All these I have kept.“: Yet Jesus knows that this is not true and stretches the man a bit in telling him to sell all his riches and give them to the poor. [Side Note: Jesus is NOT telling us that we are not going to heaven unless we sell everything!! He was testing/challenging this young man!] Jesus was opening his eyes to his own failures stemming from his own self-effort, and his true need for Jesus. How often do we find ourselves thinking that we can do everything right to meet the standard, deeming us worthy of eternal life? Our righteous acts are like filthy rags before the Lord (Isaiah 64:6). All the self-effort in the world would not be enough to inherit eternal life. WHAT ARE YOU LEANING ON TO DEEM YOURSELF WORTHY?
4) “he went away sad.“: The young rich man missed the most important words Jesus spoke to him, “Follow Me“. Jesus offered Himself and yet the young man was so discouraged at his failed attempts to get what he wanted by his own wealth and self-effort, that he missed Jesus’ invitation. How many times in our attempts to do it all ourselves, do we miss the joy and adventure and growth that comes in learning how to simply “follow Jesus”…nothing else. Wherever He leads, I’ll go. ARE YOU SO BUSY CONSUMED WITH WORKS THAT YOU ARE MISSING JESUS’ INVITATION TO FOLLOW HIM?
Jesus took time to talk with this young man, when He didn’t have to. DID JESUS GET ANYTHING OUT OF THAT? nope and nope
As Jesus explains this conversation with the disciples, they, too, are overwhelmed and depressed with their own inability to do what is required to deserve worthiness to have eternal life. Again, Jesus, reminds them that it is only through God (God’s plan of sending Jesus to pay the penalty for their sins) that this would ever be possible.
Then Peter just bursts out there, “We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?”. Peter wanted to know, “What’s in it for me?” Jesus is so gracious not to rebuke him or be exasperated with them. But rather makes them a huge promise that is offered to us today as well: everyone who leaves it all for His sake will receive 100 times as much and will inherit eternal life. Now that’s a promise you can count on! Wow! ARE YOU COMPLETELY SOLD OUT FOR JESUS?
Today, I was reminded of the fact that Jesus served and loved people with no strings attached. He got nothing out of any of these encounters, He simply gave of Himself because He had compassion. He considered others. He put Himself aside to minister to them.
KINGDOM LIVING PUTS SELF ASIDE TO SERVE OTHERS
WITHOUT EXPECTING ANYTHING IN RETURN
Holy Spirit, help us not ask, “What’s in it for me?“, but rather “What’s in me for others?“. In Jesus’ name.