Greetings in the name of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Praying for you, your family, your community and the rest of the world. Right now, the whole world is suffering because of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Let’s pray together to God, Our Ever-Loving Father, His mercy and protection on all, and God’s healing on those who are infected by the Coronavirus. We all believe God’s grace and love rest on all who look upon Him every moment with faith in Him.
“For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.” (John 6:40)
Who is God? God is Our Ever-Loving Father. He loves us because we are His children. As earthly parents love their children always and unconditionally, God, Our Ever-Loving Father, loves us always and unconditionally. Our God is like the father of the prodigal son, who left his father after splitting and grabbing his own share of the father’s wealth and leaving to a far distant land. His prodigal son, then, squandered all that he got from his father. He spent the all wealth for his own earthly pleasure and for attentions and loves of others. However, when the earthly wealth ran out, the prodigal son found he was alone and all left him. Those who flocked around the prodigal son just loved the prodigal son’s money, not the prodigal son. He was sad and truly disappointed, but he could not do anything. All left the prodigal son. Then a server famine came to the land. The prodigal son could not feed himself because nobody gave him food. He was in pain, but nobody helped him.
He was being beaten by life, and his life was extremely harsh. He could do nothing but taking his harsh life as it was approaching to him. He was bombarded by the hardship in the distant land. He hit the absolutely bottom of his life.
In the middle of a life storm that he had never experienced before, he suffered a lot, but he did not know one great truth. The life hardship was a blessing that God had prepared for him. One day, he looked up his eyes and saw his father’s face. He remembered his father who loved him so much so that his father took off his portion of the father’s wealth and gave him because he simply asked. Although his request was absurd and rude, his father gracefully accepted the ridiculous request and split his wealth out of his love and care for the prodigal son. As the set time came, God touched the prodigal son’s heart. Then the prodigal son realized what he did. He committed a great sin against his father. He came to himself.
Although his sin was grave, his father was only hope. It would be much better off even if he was accepted as one of his servants. He decided to go back to his father’s house. Then with courage he stood up. Yes, it was the most difficult thing that he had to do after his departure from home. He headed back to his father’s house, and he determined to ask his father to accept him not as his son, but as one of his servants. It was a only hope.
But his father was not like what the prodigal son imagined. His father was in pain while waiting for his son from the day one when his son left home. He always loved his beloved son and never called him as a prodigal son although other people called. In the father’s heart, the son was equally precious as the other son with him. He was always longing for his son’s return. The father’s love was greater than the sin of the prodigal son. He suffered, but he overcame his suffering with his love toward the prodigal son. Whenever he thought about his son’s brokenness, it made the father’s heart hurt more, but his father endured in his love for his son with hope. The daily job of the father was looking out the direction where his son left.
One day, the father actually saw his son’s return. As soon as he saw his son returning, he was extremely joyful. He ran out with open arms and hugged his son. His son asked the father’s forgiveness and to be accepted as one of his father’s servants because he was not worthy of being his son anymore. He did not answer anything. He had no time to talk. He immediately restored the prodigal son as his true son, and brought the best to his son. His father loved the prodigal son unconditionally whether his son became a prodigal son who squandered his wealth (not small, but big chunk of his wealth) or a good son by staying home with him. This is the example of the unconditional love told by Jesus. This is not a just heart-touching story, but the story told by Jesus Christ in order to explain the God’s love toward His children. Then what can we do? We can come to God with confidence anytime and under any conditions. Our God surely loves us unconditionally. This is our assurance, hope and faith.
Jesus was starting out on his way to Jerusalem with His disciples, a man came running up to him, knelt down, and asked,
“Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” (Matthew 19:16b)
The man was not an ordinary man, but he was young and strong, extremely rich and powerful, and a religious leader of the town. In short, he had everything on earth – youth and health, riches and power, and people’s respects. Is there anyone who does not want to have all as the young man had?
We are getting lots of prayers, and most of the prayers are related to lacking of one or more of these and associated pains. Sickness alone is an insurmountable pain in our lives. Having no or little money to support our necessities is another terrible pain that we can hardly bear. Being oppressed by others without any reasons because we don’t have power like them is really hard to endure. We pray for all these pains to God while asking for God’s grace, mercy and love on those who are suffering. God is our healer, comforter and protector. His Love never changes and endures forever. Thus, we can lean on in the time of needs. This is our hope and faith, and testimony.
Yes, the young, rich and powerful man had all. Additionally, he had humility. It is very rare to see such a rich and powerful young man with humility. He came to Jesus, and humbly knelt down before Jesus. At the scene, there were many people who surrounded Jesus. All were watching what the young, rich and powerful man was doing. The young man came with his own servants, and he had lots of wealth with him too. As the young man knelt down, all suddenly stopped talking, and quietly watching what the young man was doing. It was so quite that the conversation between Jesus and the young man was able to be heard from distance.
The young man asked, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” The young man had all, but he found one thing was missing which was eternal life. The young man was wise enough to know about this truth. Although he had everything, when he died, all that he had immediately became nothing to him. He could not take even one single item among the huge possessions of his. All of his time and effort to accumulate the earthly wealth and fame would be useless when leaving this world. After all he came empty, and he would go empty. He knew this truth. He came to Jesus to search for an answer.
Before continuing, let’s drill down a little bit more about his question. He asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Can we see anything wrong in his question? What was the assumption in the young man’s mind about the eternal life? He treated the eternal life as if something can be obtained by doing something such as doing a good deed or paying money. Indeed, the young man accumulated all his wealth and his power by working hard and saving money. None of them came free. Thus, he mistakenly understood eternal life. He wanted to have eternal life by doing good deeds or paying money. What an absurd thought he had! Can anyone buy one’s own eternal life by doing good deeds or paying money? No. Absolutely not.
God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. (Ephesians 2:8-9)
Eternal life, i.e., salvation is a free gift from God, and is not a reward for our good deeds. Yes, it cannot be purchased by money. The rich and powerful young man did not know this truth.
Then Jesus asked,
“Why ask me about what is good?” (Matthew 19:17a)
Jesus started leading the conversation with the young man to expose ignorance of the young man.
“There is only One who is good. But to answer your question—if you want to receive eternal life, keep the commandments.” (Matthew 19:17b)
Only is God good, absolutely good. We all human beings are not good. We all go astray from the path of God’s righteousness like sheep. Then, Jesus asked, “have you kept the commandments?” because God’s righteousness was written in the commandments.
The young man answered,
“Which one?” (Matthew 19:18a)
“‘You must not murder. You must not commit adultery. You must not steal. You must not testify falsely. Honor your father and mother. Love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Matthew 19:18b-19)
Jesus just talked about the half of the ten commandments, and asked whether the young man kept all (actually the half).
“I’ve obeyed all these commandments,” the young man replied. “What else must I do?” (Matthew 19:20)
The young man proudly answered that he kept all these commandments from his ignorance. The young man even asked, “are there anything else I must do?” Then what didn’t the young man know?
1. The commandments were meant to be not outwardly but inwardly.
Jesus told before the young man came to Him:
“You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment (Matthew 5:21-22a)
What do the above verses tell? If we are angry in our heart, we have already murdered the person at whom we are angry in our heart. Is there anyone who has never been angry at another person? We all were angry at another person not just once, but many times. However, every time when we are angry at another person, we murdered the person in our heart. What a shocking truth! How do we think? Had the young man never been angry at another person? Of course, he must have been angry at anther person many times although he had never physically murdered anyone. Yes, nobody is perfect before God. Thus, nobody is good before God. The young man completely missed this point when he answered to Jesus.
Jesus knew the young man’s ignorance, and summarized the commandments for him as “Love your neighbor as yourself” at the end of his answer. If we truly love another person as ourselves, then will there even one single moment to murder another person in heart? No. Why?
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. (1 Corinthians 13:4-7)
2. Jesus covers only the half of the ten commandments.
Jesus implicitly pointed out the other half of the ten commandments, which defines our relationship with God.
Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:37-40)
Jesus summed up the ten commandments into two:
I. Love God with all our heart and with all our soul and with all our mind.
II. Love our neighbor as ourselves.
Jesus knew the young man failed for the second half of the ten commandments. The young man did his best but failed to know his failure because he did not know the truth. According to Bible, Jesus loved the young man. As parents who love their children, Jesus did not blame at the young man about his failure because his failure came from his ignorance.
Then Jesus guided the young man to the most important commandments — “love God.” Not just with a love, but a love with full dedication with all his heart, with all his soul, and with all his mind.
“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. (Matthew 6:24)
Thus, Jesus decided to touch the very center of the young man’s heart by asking which one he really loved — God or money.
Jesus told him, “If you want to be perfect, go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” (Matthew 19:21)
Jesus told him to sell all his possessions and give the money to the poor. Then Jesus continued telling “come, follow me.” Jesus also explained the true way to lay up treasure in heaven, not on earth so that his riches would continue with him for eternity.
How do you think? Did the young man sell, give and follow Jesus? No. The young man’s face fell. He went away sad because he was extremely rich. He could not tread the riches of this world with that of heaven. The young man truly loved what he possessed more than anything else.
Then Jesus said to his disciples,
“I tell you the truth, it is very hard for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. I’ll say it again—it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!” (Matthew 19:23b-24)
The disciples were astounded, and they asked,
“Then who in the world can be saved?” (Matthew 19:25a)
Jesus looked at them intently and said,
“Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible.” (Matthew 19:26b)
Yes, it is humanly impossible because the riches of this world are so seductive that nobody can take off all of our worldly temptations that are so tightly clinging to us, whether they are small as we possess or big like what the young man had. Thus, it is impossible for us to grab the things above, which is not visible and cannot be touched. We intrinsically love things in this world, because they are immediate, visible and we can touch them. However, God can change us. He can change our heart so that we can live for the things in heaven. This complete transformation can be done by God’s power, and also through the power of God in His grace, we receive eternal life. The young man truly wanted, but he couldn’t because he wanted to get it by his own might. Then he went away sad. The young man did not know eternal life is a gift of God, which is freely given by God because it is impossible for us to get it by our own might, effort or money.
Then how to receive eternal life — the free gift of God? By believing, we can receive eternal life, which is given to us when we believe by His grace. Grace means that we get something although we should not get due to lack of a qualification or a merit. In other words, we are not worthy to receive eternal life, but through God’s grace, we receive eternal life when we believe this truth.
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:28)
In fact, we are all sinners. Sin biblically means that we miss the target set by God. The target is described in the commandments. Thus, we call God’s Law. As we talked about before, we all broke the God’s Law with our hearts by being angry at another person although we have not physically murdered anyone. Remember? When we are angry at another person, we are in fact murdering the person in the eyes of God because God sees our murdering heart although we physically did not murder the person. Despite of our constant failure of keeping His commandments, God loves us. Indeed, God so loved us that He gave His own son and through His son God forgive all our sins as the father who loved and forgave the prodigal son when he asked forgiveness of his father.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)
Yes, God unconditionally loves us. God let Jesus be the perfect and eternal sacrifice for sins of all, and in turn we received the precious eternal life. We know the young man truly wanted eternal life, but he could not due to the love of the world. What God truly wants from us is our faith in Him while believing that God will lavishly gives out all good things to us including eternal life.
What was the main cause that the young man could not get eternal life? He loved the world more than God.
Now it is time to ask what we truly love? God or things on earth that we see and touch? We also ask this question not just once in our life, but constantly at every moment in our lives. This question reveals where our heart is. If, yes if we see any slightest glimpse of our heart change, we should get alarmed, and pray authentically and fervently to God for His protection, mercy and guidance. Then we come back to God and follow the foot steps of Jesus Christ. Then arms and arm together live a victorious life in Him, by Him and through Him! Praise the Lord, who loves always and unconditionally!
Today, we’d like to share about how to wisely manage the current worldwide Coronavirus pandemic. First, except our own family living together, consider all others as a potential source of transmitting the Coronavirus because people who are asymptomatic (no symptom of Coronavirus at all) can carry and transmit the virus. Thus, please avoid a physical contact with others, and maintain distance about two meters (or six feet). This social distancing saves lives. Please wash hands with soap about 20 seconds to wash out the Coronavirus that might be on our hands. Our hand skin is pretty thick and it protects well against the Coronavirus, but our hands frequently touch our mouth, then the Coronavirus on our hands will go into our body. We should prevent this type of infection by our own hands.
Most of all, this is the time to have a quality time with one’s own family and with God, Our Ever-Loving Father with prayers, and reading and medicating Bible every day. Please fix eyes on Jesus, who is the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, and follow the foot step of Jesus Christ with our own families in this difficult time. When this Coronavirus pandemic is over, doing so, we will all find that we are one step closer to each other in our own family members in Christ and have a deeper relationship with God.
May God’s grace, protection, healing on all and especially for those who are physically suffering from the Coronavirus and those who are mourning for the loss of the loved ones due to the Coronavirus.
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26)