What To Expect in 2010

Text: Matthew 19:16- 20:16

Proposition: Expect to see those that are first, last and the last first.

Introduction: When you consider a title like ‘What to Expect in 2010’ you’d think that it would be referencing passages in Daniel where world kingdoms are described or passages in Ezekiel that talk about the military strategy in Armageddon or Matthew 24 that describes the transition period before the second coming of Jesus, that time called the Tribulation. But what might we expect to see from our view at ground level? Let me read for you an actual event that happened with the disciples as they walked with Jesus towards Jerusalem one day. It’s recorded in Matthew 19:16 to 20:16.

I. Expect to See a Growing Sense of Discontent Among the Rich.                                         This is the story of the rich young ruler, a man of youth, wealth, power and even reverence who comes to Jesus looking for something he doesn’t have. His discontent is no different than ours is when we sense an emptiness in the midst of possessions and power. Forbes magazine tells us there are now 691 billionaires on earth, 100 more joined the club this year. There is an emerging middle class in third world nations, there is a sense that the world is recovering from recession and that it will be a profitable thing. The issue of wealth will always provoke the problem of contentment, when wealth is acquired it exposes the lie of self sufficiency because you still feel that something is missing. Expect to see that discovery in millions of people in the coming year.

II. Expect to See Good Works That Are Self Serving.                                                Had this young man asked you this question you would likely have stopped him in his tracks and said, “Whoa, salvation or eternal life doesn’t come from doing good works, that’s the wrong way to go, you need to hear about grace and the gift of faith.” The young guy wanted to do good things not so much that people’s lives would be better but so that he would benefit spiritually. I suppose the great temptation is that by doing good we believe that we can become good, such thinking becomes the illusive carrot on a stick, it becomes the bait that feeds on a people’s sense of guilt and even fear. Good works is what fuels cults, it fuels Islam, it fuels the synthetic faith of the social gospel. Good works for the sake gaining entrance to eternity is ultimately self serving.  It would seem that the motive behind doing good is more important than the good that is actually done.

III. Expect to See Absolute Truth Confront Relative ‘Truth’.                                            As you read this passage you’d expect Jesus to confront the young man’s belief that good works lead to salvation, instead Jesus confronts the young man’s use of the word ‘good’. “Why do you call Me good, no one is good but One, that is God.” Jesus was challenging the young man’s view of Him, was he coming to Jesus as God or as a ‘good teacher’? In recognizing that only one God is good Jesus is implying that there is only One way to eternal life. In redefining ‘good’ Jesus also defines that in man there exists the presence of that which is ‘not good’, what we would call sin. The issue of relative truth, where good is used to describe opposing things will be confronted by the use of absolute truth more and more. Expect to see that in 2010 as the kingdom of God unfolds more and more. Absolute truth will say that there is a way to God, a truth that He reveals and a life that He gives. There are not many paths to God, there is Jesus Christ alone Who has been given on the cross for our sin. Expect to see that absolute truth confront the relative goodness of man. 

IV. Expect God to Expose Our Unbelief.                                                                       So the Jesus tells the rich young ruler to keep the commandments and his reply to Jesus is revealing… “which ones?” It’s an audacious response but Jesus indulges him and points 5 from the Old Law and one from Himself, it’s the last one that really seals it, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” The young man’s response exposes his blindness, he says he’s kept them all since a child. So Jesus exposes the deeper issue of what he really believes in. What is it he depends upon, what is it that empowers him, where is identity and value found? When Jesus exposes unbelief in God in these areas of our lives it is always meant to invite us to move from idolatry to belief. The issue is not money, Jesus is not against wealth nor against those who possess it, He’s against the power it has over us to succor us to unbelief in God as our heavenly Father who alone is the giver of life. When he says that it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God, did you see the disciples reaction? They are aghast, dumbfounded, astounded. You’d think because they were poor they’d be somewhat joyous about this but they’re not. In fact they say, “Who then can be saved?” The point, we all long to be rich for the very same reasons as the rich young ruler, that’s our sin nature that longs to make it on our own, to be independent of God. Expect that in 2010 God will expose our unbelief and at the same time invite us to trust in Him absolutely, always. That’s impossible you might be thinking. It’s why Jesus says, “…but with God all things are possible.

V. Expect the First to be Last and the Last to be First.                                               The kingdom of God is both here and soon to be evident to all. So if that is the case and Jesus describes the kingdom as a place where the first are last and the last first, then we should expect to see that more and more. The whole point of the parable is to illustrate two things: the sovereignty of God in doing what He does even if it violates our sense of what is fair and the grace of God to not only give what is undeserved but to be faithful in all He promises. There are many things that will tempt us to seize first place for ourselves in 2010, everything from road rage to lust to loneliness. The kingdom of God is coming, beware of the tendency of your heart to be first, knowing that it will result in the opposite. Trust in Christ, absolutely.

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