Our giving and caring are the only aspects of our lives that will last the test of time into eternity. Sharing is essential for a disciple of Christ because when we are able to give of ourselves and the money we have received from God, it is then that we experience heaven on earth. If we cling to our money and the things of this world, we cannot long for heaven. Disciples of Christ invest their treasures where their hearts already are—in Christ and his mission. There can be no such thing as a stingy disciple. We will never be the disciples God intends us to be if we are unable to generously return a goodly share of what we receive. God did not give his Son’s life as a sacrifice for us to devote ourselves to a self-indulgent lifestyle. Deep within the soul of every disciple of Christ lies the truth, that more creature comforts will only further disconnect us from Christ’s eternal kingdom. More people are sidetracked from becoming a disciple by their inability to tithe than by anything else. Money, wealth, and financial security are not bad or sinful things in and of themselves. However, when our money becomes more important than being a disciple, it becomes a destructive force within our lives that disconnects us from God’s presence, power, and promises. The Bible teaches that money tests our faith more than anything else in all of life! When we are able to pass this test of money, with the Spirit’s help, it is then that our faith grows exponentially.
Jesus reveals surprising things about who enjoys blessings and who endures woe. He invites his disciples to shower radical love, blessings, forgiveness, generosity, and trust, even to enemies and outsiders. In holy baptism God makes saints out of sinners. In holy communion God forgives the sins of all the saints. On All Saints Day we give thanks for all the saints “who from their labors rest,” who have fought the good fight, who have gained the crown. In the same breath we petition our God for the strength to hear and to heed the admonitions of the Lord Jesus in today’s gospel. Recalling that we have been sealed by the Spirit and sustained by the Savior’s body and blood, we keep on keeping on as God gives us breath, to the praise of God’s glory.
* This Sunday is Reformation Sunday when we celebrate our Lutheran heritage and membership in the oldest and largest Protestant denomination. And yet, in what ways do we cling to that heritage instead of to Christ?
* Do we really know Christ Jesus to be the "truth" (v 32)? In "what" or "whom" do we place our faith? For many, faith and trust is put in the security of our incomes, investments, and retirement prospects. Whenever Jesus no longer becomes the "truth that sets us free," we lose our freedom (v 31).
* The ultimate tragedy is that God has no room for the religious, or being Lutheran. Without faith in Christ alone, we miss the promise. The faithless are deprived of any permanent place in God's "household" (v.35).
* Faith alone frees us: + from the power of sin, + for the ability to continue in the Word. Truly living a life of faith in Christ is what we celebrate on Reformation Sunday.
* The "faith" proclaimed by Paul, and Augustine, and then eventually Luther is a living faith in Christ that is real in our daily living. It is faith in Christ that revealed the truth to Luther and "set him free."
* It was the gift of faith that enabled Luther to continue in God's Word. It was faith in Christ that animated and empowered Luther's discipleship. It was faith that shaped Luther's reforms. And, it is faith in Christ that reveals God's truth to us about our sinful bondage and the new ability Christ offers us to continue in his Word.
* The Spirit's gift of faith connects us to Christ and offers us a place in God's "household." Getting into the household comes from having a member of the house, who lives there, invite us in. Christ Jesus is that one.
* What is faith? 1.) Ability to believe/cling to the Crucified one for salvation. 2.) Given through baptism to reveal our sinful separation from God.
As Jesus and his disciples approach Jerusalem, Jesus reminds them for the third time that he will suffer, die and rise from the dead. As with the two previous announcements, the disciples fail to understand his teaching and Jesus has to challenge them again. John and James show how much they misunderstand Jesus when they ask for the places of honor in his kingdom. Once more Jesus has to teach them and all those who want to become his followers that to be his disciple is to become servants and even slaves to all, following his own example of total self-giving. When James and John asked for the seats of honor next to Jesus, they wanted to be important people, to whom the rest would render homage and service. In the kingdom of Jesus, the leader is there, not to exploit others or to be honored and served by them, but rather to be their servant. In Jerusalem it will cost him his life. Jesus sees his death as loving service (Mk 10:45). This expression will be taken up at the Last Supper that Jesus will celebrate with the disciples. As he gave the cup of wine to his disciples, Jesus tells them that it represents his blood, the blood of the covenant which will be "poured out for many." The expression "for many" means for everybody. Jesus gives himself to save all people. Nobody is excluded.
In today's Gospel a man comes to Jesus and says he wants to follow him. Jesus challenges him to go beyond observance of the law and to make a serious commitment to God by giving up his riches and following him. This is too much for the man and he goes away sad. Jesus challenges the young man where he had least expected it, in his attachment to his wealth. Like many Jews of his time, he had thought that his wealth was a sign of blessing from God. Jesus' challenge to the man is twofold: First, he is to sell his possessions and give the money to the poor. Such a positive injunction surprises him. He was used to thinking of the law of God in negative terms "you shall not…" Now, he realizes that he must not only avoid doing bad things but take positive action. The second challenge is Jesus' invitation to come and follow him. The reason why he should sell his possessions is to be free to follow Jesus and to allow Jesus to give a new orientation to his life. One popular kind of expression in the language of the Jews is the use of an exaggerated image. The camel passing through the eye of a needle is such an exaggerated image. Everybody knows it is impossible. But this exaggeration contains a deep truth. It is impossible for a rich person who is attached to his wealth to be a real disciple of Jesus and enter his new way of life. It becomes possible only by God's grace!