Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
One of the notable characteristics of the American people is the “can do” attitude. Many in our history have been acclaimed for “lifting themselves up by their own bootstraps” and making something of themselves. Personally, while I don’t mind some help now and then, I take a certain level of satisfaction in knowing I “fixed that,” “made that,” or “did that” without assistance. However, there are times, and it pains me, I need to hire someone to take care of something I can’t do … or worse, I know I can do myself, but need help.
In Mark 10, a man needs some help too. He’s a teacher in the temple who’s struggling with his heart. He’s heard about another great teacher named Jesus and thinks maybe he has some thoughts on how he can improve his standing before God. The man, seeing Jesus as a teacher like himself, asks a simple question, (Mark 10:17) “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” The man is struggling with how he can achieve his goal of eternal life. Like many in 21st century America, this 1st century Israelite, is trying to “lift himself up” to achieve salvation.
Jesus responds by first letting the man know He is more than a teacher, (Mark 10:18) “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.” Jesus lets the man know … “You’re right to call me good … because only God is truly good … and I’m God.”
In the Creeds’ Second Article, we profess our belief in the only Son of God. Jesus, Martin Luther explains, is the one who (Luther’s Small Catechism, 2nd Article Explanation) “has redeemed me, a lost and condemned person, purchased and won me from all sins, from death, and from the power of the devil … with His holy, precious blood and with His innocent suffering and death.” Jesus is only way we can have eternal life in God’s new creation.
Why does Jesus do these things for us? Because we can’t lift ourselves up … we can’t save ourselves. Luther tells us Jesus does this so “we may be His own and live under Him in His kingdom and serve Him everlasting righteousness, innocence, and blessedness.”
Out of love for us, God sent His Son, Jesus Christ to remove sin’s power over us. Through Christ, we’re redeemed from sin’s effects. Through Christ, we’re made worthy to live for eternity as His brothers and sisters in the presence of God our Father in His new creation as He intended when He created us.
As we confess our belief in Jesus Christ, we also confess we’re helpless to save ourselves. We hear Jesus’ invitation in the gospel, (Mark 10:21) “Come, follow me.” Trusting in God’s Word and His promises found there, we drop those things which distract us from Christ and we follow Him … in this life and to eternal life.
In Christ’s Love,
Pastor Jim, Your Brother in Christ