Traveling Companions of the Cross
Lesson IV – What Can You Bring on the Journey
† Iesou, Huios, Soter †
May the God our Father, the God of peace make you hoy in everyway, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ comes again!
What can I bring?
It is expected.
You may be bringing the side dish, or the desert.
Or if you are going to Dr. Chris’s you may bring a box of wine.
But we are trained to bring something with us when we go to someone else’s house.
If we are going on a long trip, we may offer to pay for the gas, or grab the snacks and drinks for the trip.
We might call it having good manners, or being raised and trained well.
Certainly the man in the parable was like us, he wanted to journey with Jesus, to be guaranteed that eternal life with God.
But he didn’t expect, and he couldn’t handle Jesus telling him he couldn’t do his fair share.
He couldn’t accept that when he asked Jesus what he could bring on the journey, Jesus’ answer was,
Nothing! Matter of fact, “go, sell everything you have, give the proceeds to the poor, and without bringing anything, “come follow me.”
We, like the man in the gospel struggle when Jesus invites us to come follow Him, and adds, leave everything behind… and I mean everything!
The problem of what we cling to… our idols
For the man, a man by all accounts righteous, what he wanted to bring along the way was his possessions. That was what he clung to, actually it was what clung to him. He wouldn’t let go, and walk with Jesus.
I hope we will….
You see, some will make this passage about the money, that we should use our money well for the kingdom. That it proves that we are responsible to use our money and all we possess to praise God. It could be our golf clubs, our sewing machines, our guitars or homes. Sell it all, give it to God. NO!
Actually God didn’t want it. Use it to help those without, set it aside. Come with me!
There is a bigger issue here. The way things control us, the way count on things to identify who we are. It might be something we possess, or it might be a talent, or our intellect. Jesus isn’t just asking the man to leave stuff behind.
Think about what Jesus asks people to leave behind in scripture.
Their jobs, and Matthew and Zaccheus left their tax tables
Their families, and Andrew, Peter, James and John left their families as they left their boats
Their nations, as Abraham, Moses, Jonah, and Paul would leave those behind
Their “rights”? a disciple follows His master… abandoning all for the honor.
And amazingly, their guilt and shame, as both David and Peter took on leadership roles they didn’t think they were qualified for,
Often how we define ourselves shows us what our idols, our false gods are. What we cling to, what we think defines us. What we cling to, what defines us in the darkness of a night…..
Hear how Luther put it
What does it mean to have a god? or, what is God?
Answer: A god means that from which we are to expect all good and to which we are to take refuge in all distress, so that to have a God is nothing else than to trust and believe Him from the [whole] heart; as I have often said that the confidence and faith of the heart alone make both God and an idol.
The Large Catechism of Martin Luther.
Where does your confidence lie, when all else is falling around you?
It might even be negative – that you deserve to suffer, because your are no good.
Or it might be the idea that you are a victim. That life is the way it is because you’ve been crushed by others, or attacked, or mocked.
**Whatever it is, what we define ourselves as, hints at what our gods and idols are.
They are the things that get in the way of walking with Jesus, what get in the way of our following him.
And like the man, if we are to be Christ’s, then we have to let go of that other stuff….
and walk with Christ, letting Him provide everything we are to be, to need. Letting Him show us what gets in the way of our relationship with Him, and letting him destroy those false idols, those false gods.
Come Follow Me!
That’s what we see as Jesus responds to the man,
21 Looking at the man, Jesus felt genuine love for him. “There is still one thing you haven’t done,” he told him. “Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
Catch that first line –
Looking at the man, Jesus felt genuine love for him.
Jesus didn’t see the man as too proud, too conceited. He saw a man that he loved, that Jesus came to die for, to make the man’s idyllic dream of heaven and eternity true.
In His love for the man, he saw what would stop him. The things he possessed that meant more to him, at the moment.
Jesus loved him… Jesus wanted this man to join Him. Just like Jesus wants us to join Him, to accompany Him to the Father’s side.
And Jesus would die, to show this man, and each of us, how much God treasures us. To give him a glimpse of the treasure a life lived with God is. To show him the treasure that Jesus would bring him to know.
The treasure promised in the cross, given to all who would be joined to Christ’s death, burial and resurrection, that incredible mystery we proclaim in the Memorial Acclimation, that we proclaim every time we eat and drink the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.
We don’t have to bring anything, as what we have, what we put our trust in what we depend upon doesn’t define us.
The fact that God loves us does. The fact that He loves us enough to do what it took, the cross and the grave, to make us His children.
That love defines us.
The love that says come with me. Accompany me through life unto eternity.
I love the quote that shows how we are defined, found in Paul’s words to the crowd in Athens,
as someone has said, ‘In him we live and move and exist.’ It is as some of your poets have said, ‘We too are his children.’ Acts 17:28 (TEV)
And so we understand what the man couldn’t, what the writer of Hebrews wrote so clearly,
So then, let us rid ourselves of everything that gets in the way, and of the sin which holds on to us so tightly, and let us run with determination the race that lies before us. Let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from beginning to end. He did not give up because of the cross! On the contrary, because of the joy that was waiting for him, he thought nothing of the disgrace of dying on the cross, and he is now seated at the right side of God’s throne. Hebrews 12:1-2 (TEV)
That’s the point of selling the stuff, getting rid of the stuff that gets in the way, whether it is good or bad.
So because of His genuine love for us, come, let us follow Jesus, our Lord, our Savior, the One who loves us more than life. I tell you this, we won’t even remember what we’ve left behind!