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A Rest Remaineth For The Weary

October 20, 2018 Pastor: Rev. Dean Kavouras

Verse: Mark 10:23–10:31

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Christ Lutheran Church
Cleveland, Ohio
October 21, 2018
by: Rev. Dean Kavouras

Pentecost 22
A Rest Remaineth For The Weary

Jesus looked about him and said to his disciples, "How difficult it will be for those who have money to enter the kingdom of God," and the disciples were astonished at his words, and so Jesus spoke to them again and said, "Children, how difficult it is for those who have confidence in money to ender the Kingdom of God." It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God," and now they were exceedingly astonished and said to one another, "Who then can be saved?" Jesus looked upon them and said, "For men it is impossible. But not with God! Because with God all things are possible." 

At this Peter said to him, "Look! We have left everything behind and are your followers! Jesus said to him, "Amen! I say to you there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake, and that of the gospel who will not receive back 100 times as much now in this age of houses, and brothers, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and fields with persecution! And, in the age to come eternal life!" (Mk 10:23-31)

Today’s gospel is only incidentally about money. Wealth can be dangerous to your eternal salvation, but so can poverty. The disciples were rightly amazed at the Lord’s saying, and in their question: who then can be saved? And we do well to hear Jesus’ answer because it is the heart of this teaching: For man it is impossible, but not for God, because with God all things are possible.

True, Scripture warns us against putting our trust in money because it can easily give a person a false sense of security. With enough money a person can temper the curse of sin, which is a life of hard labor. With enough wealth he might begin to think that he doesn’t need salvation, that he has already attained heaven right here on earth.

That is fatal! But another lethal mistake is to think that there is virtue in poverty, there is not, and today’s Old Testament lesson sets our thinking straight.

On the one hand Solomon says:

“There is a grievous evil that I have seen under the sun: riches were kept by their owner to his hurt, and those riches were lost in a bad venture. And he is father of a son, but he has nothing in his hand. As he came from his mother’s womb he shall go again, naked as he came, and shall take nothing for his toil that he may carry away in his hand.” (Eccl. 5:13-15)

But on the other hand he says:

“Behold, what I have seen to be good and fitting is to eat and drink and find enjoyment in all the toil with which one toils under the sun the few days of his life that God has given him, for this is his lot. Everyone also to whom God has given wealth and possessions and power, to enjoy them and to accept his lot and rejoice in his toil – this is the gift of God.” (Eccl. 5:18-20)

But enough about money! Let us talk instead about God who is almighty. About God who uses his almighty power in Christ to save you so that your weary soul can enter into his rest. And there is nothing better than that!

The usually dim disciples are fast learners in today’s gospel. Jesus tells the rich, young ruler that if he wants to inherit eternal life that he must sell all that he has, distribute it to the poor (thus making them rich), take up his cross and follow Jesus.

On the heels of this Peter exclaims, “Look! We have left everything behind and become your followers!” With the implied question: “What is in it for us?”

We ask the same question because we, too, have put aside all vain pursuits. We, too, have learned to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Jesus into baptismal death and resurrection each day.

We, too, have broken with culture, rejected its vain values and look to the Bible to find “the way, the truth and the life.” (John 14:6). What will we receive?

And now Jesus answers; and what an answer it is!

"Amen! I say to you there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake, and that of the gospel who will not receive back 100 times as much now; in this age; of houses, and brothers, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and fields: with persecution! And in the age to come: eternal life! (Mark 10:30-31)

What could he possibly mean by that?

The houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields that we receive in this age are the church. The mystical body of Christ into which we are inducted by baptism, and nourished by the Lord’s Flesh and Blood in Holy Communion. God’s house is now our house. God’s field is now our field. And God’s people are now our people. But it all comes with persecution: consider this carefully before you practice the holy Christian faith.

The world cannot wrap its brain around the person who practices the faith we practice here today. Not only can it not comprehend, but often it fears and despises us as well. Many people today consider the traditional Christian faith, with its historic worship, firm confessions, moral and doctrinal theology to be not only peculiar, but dangerous.

Though the world doesn’t darken our door it perceives the threat of the disciple’s question: Who then can be saved? And because outside the church there is no salvation it wishes to silence the message, and often the messenger as well. 

We live in interesting times. At the tail end of an age of religious tolerance; and we’re never sure what to expect from one day to the next.

Nonetheless we rejoice in Christ. We are glad in our baptism. We glory in the fact that we are saved from sin, death and Satan by the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. And with David we exclaim: “I was glad when they said unto me: let us go into the house of the Lord.” (Ps. 122:1) And again, “I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” (Ps. 23:6)

But the gladness we experience here is not the end. As the hymn says, “A rest remaineth for the weary.” A rest wherein we will enjoy all the blessings of the church; minus the impediments of the devil, the culture and the flesh. That is to say, without persecution. And so let us do as the hymn urges:

“Cast off thy burden, come with haste;
Soon will the toil and strife be ended,
The weary way which thou hast wended.
Sweet is the rest which thou shalt taste.”