by David Sisler
Have you stood in the middle of a thunderstorm and said, "Beautiful weather, isn't it?"
Have you ever made a real mess of a project and said to yourself, "If I tried hard, I might be able to do worse?"
In both cases, the outcome of events was contrary to what you might have expected. That is called an irony.
Judy tried to park in front of the First National Bank, accidentally hit the gas pedal and crashed through the wall and into the bank's lobby. The irony is, Judy came to the bank to deposit a check from her insurance company for having a safe driving record.
The Visitors Bureau of San Mateo County in California ordered 50,000 new maps of the area from a map company. You guessed it! The delivery driver got lost and had to phone for directions. That's irony!
The man was rich. He was respected in the community. He was old enough to hold an honored position among his peers and young enough to enjoy it. He seemed to have everything going for him. But there was an emptiness inside of him that gnawed away at his obvious success.
Jesus was passing through his town. In fact, when the rich young ruler noticed Him, Jesus was on His way out of town. He did the only thing he could. He ran to catch Jesus. Panting and out of breath, he dropped to his knees. "What must I do to have eternal life?" he asked.
"Keep the Commandments," Jesus said.
"Since I was a young boy, I've kept them all," the man replied.
"Well," said Jesus, "there is only one thing you need to do. Sell everything you own. Give the money you raise to the poor."
Witnesses to the scene saw the young man get off of his knees, dust himself off, and walk away. His shoulders were stooped. His head was bowed. The expression on his face communicated not anger, but only great sorrow.
Knowing the young man valued his money above his relationship to God, Jesus said, "It will be very hard for those who are rich to enter the kingdom of God. It would be easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle!" (Mark 10:25).
That statement is one of the greatest ironies of the Bible. The irony is, people of that day viewed prosperity as an obvious sign of God's blessings, and therefore righteousness. Popular theology taught, if you were rich you were righteous. If you were poor, you were a sinner. It's a teaching which dies hard.
The disciples were amazed. They asked, "Who then can be saved?"
Just moments before the rich young ruler fell at Jesus' feet, Jesus had explained who could be saved and how to be saved. Some parents tried to get their children close enough to Jesus so He could touch them. The disciples tried to interfere.
"Don't stop them," Jesus said. "The kingdom of God belongs to people who are like these little children. I tell you the truth. You must accept the kingdom of God as a little child accepts things, or you will never enter it" (Mark 10:14-15).
No wonder they missed the point!
Become like a little child? Jesus, look at my years of service. Look at my ability. Don't you understand, Jesus, I'm well respected in my community. I'm important.
"It is precisely for those reasons," Jesus would say, "that you absolutely must become like a little child and receive me like he would. Otherwise, you'll never have a part of me."
Nothing you can do will ever earn you eternal life. You can't be rich enough to buy it or poor enough to deserve it. You can't be good enough to qualify for an automatic entrance or wicked enough to be eternally excluded. If, like a little child, you say, "Jesus, I believe you," you will possess, at that moment, eternal life. The irony is, that's the only way.
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Copyright 2001 by David Sisler. All Rights Reserved.
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