In the Holy Gospel for this next Sunday, a rich young man refers to Jesus twice as "Teacher." Most of the world that has heard of Jesus sees this and nothing more. No true God, no true Savior, nothing more than a good moral teacher. Even the Bible-quoting Ghost Buster, Winston Zeddemore, (Ernie Hudson) could only muster "I love Jesus' style." Follow the reading in Mark 10:17-22.
Most of the unbelieving world, caught up in the devil's lies about our Lord, give Jesus only that much. In the reading we hear Jesus redirect the man's false understanding of what he reveals as good works in order to receive salvation to the One Good, God Himself, which Jesus is. Possessed by his possessions, this man is convinced that Jesus will recognize that he is good enough to inherit the kingdom of heaven. Perhaps he earned his wealth, but more likely he inherited his wealth since he is young. Now he wants Jesus to recognize his ability to obey the rules, he is such a nice moral rich muffin.
Jesus levels it all off by calling out the man's true morality, in that he trusts in his wealth, which he cannot release. This is not just for rich people, but for all people who trust in anything but God. Only in God do we have peace and only through the Son of God, Jesus the Christ, can we receive this peace, through faith in Him. Stripped of all that we trust, will we trust in God to be our provision and salvation? It is the ultimate question but we are not sufficient of ourselves to even fulfill that.
These are scary questions that without the Word of God and the Holy Sacraments strengthening us in faith and assuring us of the Lord provisioning us for this life we are lost. Only in Christ do we have complete pardon from sin, and the forgiveness flows to us through the Word as He is given over to be punished for us to pay all our debt. We cannot obey in any way, shape or form to save ourselves. We need Christ, especially when we become complacent through wealth or ease. We need Him to save us from ourselves.
The last picture of this guy, leaving disheartened because he was possessed by his great possessions, is truly sad. But the Lord looks at him and loves him. There is hope. With sinful humanity, nothing really that matters is possible. But with Christ, all things are possible. If He can change murderous Saul into St. Paul, if He can change tax collector Matthew into Levi the disciple--if He can by Holy Baptism, faith, forgiveness and Holy Spirit change you and me, there is always hope.
Lord Jesus, True God and True Man, continue to kill the gods of self and possessions in us all. Keep us focused on You for all that we need and especially forgiveness of our sins from Your precious wounds. Feed us with Your Word and Sacraments daily so we seek Your nourishment daily. Assure us we are forgiven and Your people in Your kingdom. Amen.