I've been teaching over a study of Matthew for the past several weeks. Its a pretty good study and the group, as far as I can tell, is enjoying it. We try to mix our discussions up by studying a book such as Blue Like Jazz, watching a film clip and applying it to our daily walk (the last was Batman The Dark Knight), and then a study of one of the books contained in the bible. This gives us some variety.
So today's discussion was over Matthew 19: 13-30, where Jesus blesses the little children, despite the disciples trying to keep the kids from bothering them and Jesus. Jesus sets them straight and blesses the kids and then makes a couple of examples on how they need to be like these little ones to enter the kingdom. And then the story of the rich man asking Jesus what he needs to do to enter the kingdom of heaven.
Now, I know you've heard this story at least a hundred times. And so have I. But when preparing for it this week, I just got tickled. You know, it struck me funny. So Jesus is standing there and this unknown person (presumably wealthy) asks Him what he has to do to enter the kingdom. Jesus says "If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments." And the guy replies, "Which Ones?". Man, I just laughed. "which ones?". So I'm thinking "all of them you moron!". Why would God give you commandments and then say, "uh, go ahead and choose which one of these you'd like to keep". And it reminds me of my conversations with my kids. "eat your french fries." to which they reply "do I have to eat them all". Or "eat your carrots" and they say "how many". So Jesus replies with six commandments the guy needs to keep and names them. Now I'm not Jesus, and I have no idea why He cut him slack and only said six of them, but I guess He had his reasons.
So the six have something in common, they are all centered around our relationships to others. How we treat and respond and respect and love each other. Out of the 10 commandments, Jesus chose these. And that tells me something about what is important to Jesus when he actually allows the guy to keep only six of the commandments. Jesus is concerned with relationship.
now there is more to the story of course. The young man says he has kept those six (don't know about the other four) so wanted to know if there was anything he hadn't done. Jesus says, "yep, go sell your stuff and give the money to the poor" and that would do it. The guy can't do it. He values stuff more than people. And the scripture says he is grieved by it.
So is something keeping you from the Kingdom? Is it possessions? Is it fear? Is it control? I wonder what Jesus would tell us if we asked, "what do I need to do?". I wonder if He would cut us some slack?