I honestly believe that if we are not thrown by what Christ says, we probably haven’t heard Him correctly. Jesus’ words continue to baffle those who hear them. Even His disciples, who walked with Him daily, kept double-checking to be sure they’d understood Him correctly. And when He addressed the issues of divorce and marriage, His disciples simply reasoned, “If the relationship of a man with his wife is like this, it’s better not to marry” (Matthew 19:10).
If we hear Jesus correctly, we are right there with the disciples, scratching our heads, and doing our best to understand it all. When He speaks of camels passing through needles, they respond: “Then who can be saved?” (Matthew 19:23-25). Who indeed? Who can live in the economy of God’s kingdom? No one, according to his own works. With man, it is impossible, but with God, all things are possible (v. 26).
We are both legalists and antinomians at heart; we think of the law as a means of earning favor, salvation, and glory, yet we also think of the law in the loosest terms possible. Like the men in the vineyard, we are incensed when we don’t get paid bonuses, despite the fact that we’ve received our just wages (Matthew 20:1-15). Like the rich man, we’ve kept our own version of the law and are disappointed to find that it is not enough (19:16-22). Like the Zebedees, we think we can drink the cup, and we’d like to get a few thrones thrown in just to make things fair. And if someone else seems to beat us to it, we are indignant (20:20-24).
Mankind has always been angling for first place, failing to recognize that God’s economy works very differently. But many who are first will be last, and the last first (Matthew 20:16). To inherit the kingdom, we ought to come to Him as children, that He may lay His hands on us and pray (Matthew 19:13-15). May we come to Him as the blind men, saying “Lord, have mercy on us… Open our eyes!” (Matthew 20:30, 34).
Let us lay aside our anglings and barterings, the clamoring for first place, lording what authority we have over those in our care. Yes, left to ourselves and in our own strength, this is impossible, but with God all things are possible. For, “the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28). In His kingdom, great and small are overturned, as He simply calls us to Himself, saying, “Come, follow me.”
Written by Caleb Faires