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Jesus & Justice | The Next Step
February 13, 2022
18And a ruler asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 19And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. 20You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery, Do not murder, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother.’” 21And he said, “All these I have kept from my youth.” 22When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 23But when he heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely rich.
Paul Coty, our guest preacher this week, reminded us that there are many different definitions of justice. Here are a few:
- Cornell West says, “Never forget that justice is what love looks like in public.”
- William Gaddis says, “Justice? You get justice in the next world, in this world you have the law.”
- Isaac Asimov says, “People who don’t expect justice don’t have to suffer disappointment.”
Despite these and many other competing definitions and understanding of justice, the Bible tells us that justice is a Kingdom of God issue and justice is determined by the king and the just judge: God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This means all humans are equal before God and have the right to be treated with dignity and fairness no matter who they are; and therefore, we are to treat others as the image bearers of God that they are.
To discover and experience Jesus Christ in our midst
To cultivate mutually encouraging relationships
To participate in God’s mission to the world
Almighty God, we gather here to praise your name. Help us lay aside our worries, our fears, our frustrations, and our anxieties, that we may be free to truly worship you. Through the power of your Spirit, empower us to seek your ways, walk in the footsteps of Christ, come before you with our whole heart, and live as your faithful servants. We seek your help this day, O God, that the world may know your abundant love and your amazing grace. In the name of Christ, we pray. Amen.
Responsive Prayer—Psalm 37:1-11
1Fret not yourself because of evildoers; be not envious of wrongdoers!
2For they will soon fade like the grass and wither like the green herb.
3Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.
4Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
5Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act.
6He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday.
7Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices!
8Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil.
9For the evildoers shall be cut off, but those who wait for the Lord shall inherit the land.
10In just a little while, the wicked will be no more; though you look carefully at his place, he will not be there.
11But the meek shall inherit the land and delight themselves in abundant peace.
1. The Ruler's Question: We don’t know much about the rich young ruler (RYR). We don’t know where he is from or what he did for a living. However, he was important enough to be mentioned in three of the four gospels. Matthew, Mark, and Luke all tell the story of this man who came to Jesus with an important question (Matthew 19:16-30; Mark 10:17-31; Luke 18-30). All three say he was rich. But only Matthew tells us he was young (Matthew 19:20); and Luke alone says he was a ruler (Luke 18:18). This young man, full of prestige, with the best of privilege, comes to Jesus with a simple question: “Good teacher, what must I do to have eternal life?”
- Having read the passage, how would you describe the RYR’s attitude or posture towards Jesus?
- What do you think is behind his initial question?
- The RYR is blinded by his own power, wealth, and privilege as he approaches Jesus. What are some of the blind spots that keep us from seeing Jesus and our neighbor as we should?
2. Jesus' Response v.19-22
- In v.19-20, how is Jesus trying to deconstruct the RYR’s belief about himself and belief about who God is?
- In v.22 Jesus says, “One thing you lack.” What is the one thing the RYR lacks? (Remember he thinks he has everything).
- Perhaps you might not be as bold to tell Jesus, “all of these I have kept from my youth,” as the RYR did, but what might be some subtle and hidden ways that we rely on our own intellect and moral superiority to justify ourselves before God?
- How do these hidden beliefs keep us from loving God and loving our neighbor?
- How do they keep us from living generous lives?
3. The Ruler's Reaction v.23
- What are the next steps the RYR could have done to become a follower of Jesus?
- Paul talked about the next steps we should take. He modeled that in his conversations with Scott and Jason. What next steps that are simple, personal and relational could you take?
Go forth, rejoicing that our God is with us in all times and places, and in all the seasons of our lives.
View Study Guide Notes
Question 1: The RYR approaches Jesus hoping to impress him with his intellect and his moral superiority, but as is often the case with the religious and civic leaders who approach Jesus, they think they see but are actually blind. They miss Jesus for who he is and what he has come to do. This will be the case for the RYR. Luke wants us to see the blind spots we might have when it comes to the Kingdom of God and specifically justice in God’s Kingdom.
Question 2: Jesus is trying to expose the RYR’s self reliance. The RYR approaches Jesus as a peer and perhaps a good intellectual sparring partner, but not the Son of God. For the RYR to have the life he is seeking, he must give up not just his reliance on material possessions, but his reliance on his own strength and moral grounding. While it’s unlikely any of us would say we have kept the law perfectly from our youth, we do in our own ways seek to rely on our abilities and possessions as we get through life. This then keeps us from pursuing justice and living generously on behalf of others.
Question 3: N/A