Sunday, July 24, 2011

Who Did Jesus Understand Himself To Be?

Mar 10:19  You know the commandments: 'Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.'" Mar 10:20  And he said to him, "Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth." Mar 10:21  And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, "You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me."

James White made an interesting point the other day speaking about the rich, young ruler.  In seeking to expose the fact that he was a law breaker and in particular an idolater Jesus tells him that in order to inherit eternal life he must keep God’s Law perfectly.  This young man does what so many have done before and after him.  He assumes that because he has not grossly broken the second table of the law he is not guilty of the first commandment. 

This got me to thinking.  Jesus starts off with the easier ones then finishes by showing that this man loves himself more than God because he is not willing to part with life’s pleasures for the sake of Christ.  Ultimately Jesus is teaching us that no poor attempts of law keeping are going to save anyone.  In order to inherit eternal life one must trust fully on Christ alone.  But first one has to realize that we are all lawbreakers regardless of how good you think you are.

So I think the beauty of Jesus’ words here is not that he moves from the law to himself because he doesn’t.  He is going to show this man that he is a law breaker and he is still referring to the 10 Commandments.  If I can paraphrase Jesus’ words I think he is in essence saying, “Okay, you think you have kept the 10 Commandments because you have kept from treating your fellowman cruelly.  Let’s cut to the chase.  The first commandment is that you shall have no other gods before me.”  (This Jesus more clearly explains means that we are to love God with all our heart, soul, and mind.)

Now the amazing thing.  Jesus doesn’t say, “Are you willing to forsake all for Yahweh”, he says “Are you willing to forsake all for me!”  The question here is whether this man has broken the law and Jesus equates his love for Yahweh with his love for Jesus.  If the First table of the Law can be summed up in total love and allegiance to Yahweh and Jesus says in order to have eternal life one must give total allegiance to the Son, then it seems the obvious conclusion must be that Jesus is God.

Jesus is commanding this man to forsake all and follow only him.  If Jesus isn’t God then he is in essence commanding him to break the very first and greatest commandment.  Perhaps another way of putting it is that it is impossible to keep the commands of God unless one follows Christ as God.

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