18th Sunday after Trinity October 20, 2019

Let us pray: Dear Savior, You alone are our refuge and fortress against all enemies, including our own sinful flesh.  You are the only security blanket we will ever need because You are always with us both in this life and in the afterlife.  Today prompt all of us to act like it!  Amen


TEXT:  Mark 10: 17-27

Dearly Beloved By Christ:

Your first conscious thought in the womb is: I’m safe!  After all, the ambient temperature surrounding you is constant and comfortable.  You’re well-fed on a well-regulated basis.  And as you develop you show your happiness, sometimes by playing trampoline off your mother’s uterine wall!  It’s a joyful time.  You don’t know anything different—except if your mom is very upset and you sense it, or if she eats spicy food and you feel it.  It’s the ultimate in security.  No wonder some babies take their time.  Why leave?

Then comes birth.  You’re pushed and shoved and come out of that secure womb to the harsh cold of bright lights and noisy surroundings.  Everything is different.  And outside upsets breed internal upsets within you.  As one dour Scottish sage once said: “You come into this world cold, hungry, and wet, and it only gets worse from there!”

Immediately you long for the safety of the womb.  So, you latch onto a security blanket in whatever form it takes.  A literal blanket, a stuffed toy, a warm loving dog.  Or, your mom or dad’s constant embrace.  You hold onto whatever it is that makes you feel secure.  As you begin to grow and age, that longing for security takes on many forms.  Parents, friends, pets, the consistency of known surroundings.   You need to feel in control amid an insecure world.  Eventually you arrive at the inner security of trusting in yourself and by extension in financial security.  This is where that rich young man was in his life and how he got there.


But, eventually you realize, as he did, that money cannot buy real security.  It lets us down.  Money can buy creature comforts.  It can buy better health care.  But it cannot buy true security in this life because it cannot save us from pain, suffering, or death.  That’s why this rich (very rich, think multimillionaire) arrived kneeling at Jesus’ feet and asking: “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

Jesus answers with some leading remarks to his query.  Jesus says: “Why do you call me good?  No one is good—except God alone.  You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony,  do not defraud, honor your father and mother.’”  The man responds: “All these things I have kept since I was a boy.”

Really?   He viewed himself as basically perfect.  He viewed his sins as mere outward actions and not the reality of his heart.  He was arrogant.  Today you will confess your sins to God Almighty Who reads the heart, your heart.  Every thought, every word, every action you’ve ever done will be held up to His holy scrutiny.    I pray you will not be as arrogant as this young man and confess your total sinfulness, not just what others know about.  Otherwise, just like this young man you will have no real peace of mind, no inner security.  For forgiveness is the only pathway to lasting security.  Forgiveness won by Jesus dying in your place on the cross, rising to the secure life of eternal peace with God for us, and then placing such security in our hearts via faith—born of His forgiveness.


When this rich young man was done justifying his life, we’d expect Jesus to say: “Yah, right” and then excoriate him for his pride.  But Jesus does something far different.  “Jesus looked at him and loved him.”  Yes, Jesus loves all sinners, including you and me.  But now our all-knowing Lord shows His wisdom.  He knows of this man’s insecurities and addresses them.  “One thing you lack. Go sell everything you have and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven.  Then come and follow me.’  At this the man’s face fell and he went away because he had great wealth.”

Ah, how we humans cause our own problems and end up destroying our lives.  We are all infected by pride.  We all want to have our cake and eat it to and never suffer indigestion as a result.  We want the security of a clean conscience and a life unencumbered  by discomfort.  We are all control freaks.  But we cannot control what really happens either here or when we die.  So, we see-saw back and forth over following the world’s prescription for lasting security and God’s prescription.  Alas, this man lost the battle.  He trusted in this world more than in God’s Son.

The rest of this lesson is Christ mopping up the human mess, the human attempts at fixing our inner longings for inner peace with the omnipresent panacea: money.  As Scripture says: “The love of money is the root of all evil.”  Or, to put it another way: “The love of money-bought “security” is man’s ultimate folly.”  Think about it.  Some people believe they can think themselves out of all their problems.  But then they get old and get dementia.  Others slide through life trading on their appearance and glorying in it.  They even spend dollars on Botox and cosmetic  surgery.  But age advances and the frozen face syndrome strikes.  I know of one rich man in my little town growing up who came down with cancer.  He spent a fortune on medical and non-medical treatments.  But still he died.  We all will.  It’s not a question of: “If we die.  It’s when we die.”  And then the security blanket of our money, our mind, our appearance, our power will die, too.

The only thing that doesn’t die is: faith in Jesus Christ, Who rose again from the dead for us!  So, put your heart on the line and trust in the Lord and lean not on your own understanding.  Do the opposite of what this arrogant young man did.  Live your life in humility toward God and your fellow man.  Act on the basis of love in all things.  Recognize that God’s forgiveness   conquers all attempts at human power.  Then you’ll be at peace with Him, with yourself, and with others.  Then you will lack nothing, nothing truly important. Then you will be rich in God.  And remember, faith is our ultimate security blanket because it clings to Christ and Christ resides in heaven—forever.  So our security in Him also lasts forever.    Amen