Matthew 19:16-22

Then someone came to him and said, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.

”He said to him, “Which ones?”

 And Jesus said, “You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; Honor your father and mother; also, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

The young man said to him, “I have kept all these; what do I still lack?”

Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be perfect, go, sell your possessions, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.”

When the young man heard this word, he went away grieving, for he had many possessions. Matthew 19:16-22

Yesterday our Children’s Ministry Coordinator at church reported to me that some of our little ones in Mother’s Day Out have decidedly mixed feelings when it comes to Santa Claus. It seems that they are terrified by him. Kind of like Kramer’s “I’m kinda afraid of clowns!” This is a problem because rumor has it that Santa will be visiting all of the classrooms on Friday. I trust they will handle it with care.

People might actually be more like that with Jesus than they care to admit. Some might find him scary.

We’re just days away from Santa Claus Is Coming To Town. Ever since that song was written, pastors have drawn the distinction between the free grace of Jesus and the deed counting of Santa Claus. Children have internalized the lyrics. Parents have used it as the ultimate carrot for good behavior in this crazy time of year. You better watch out!

The young man in today’s text has been blessed to be living an “it is ALWAYS Christmas” kind of life. He has been a good boy his whole life. And he has plenty of possessions. He’s living the dream. But still something is missing.

It is a bit disorienting, isn’t it, when you think you have it all only to discover that you know you are missing something?

He wants one more thing. One more thing that might make his life complete. He wants to know, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?”

Jesus offers the classic answer to a world that sings “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town” every Christmas. Keep the commandments. But then Jesus takes it one step further. What the young man seeks won’t be founding by accumulating more but by surrendering what is most valuable to him. Jesus says he will win by losing.

Some people are afraid of Jesus precisely because of this. He asks them to do what they are not willing to do. To give up what they don’t want to give up. To turn toward the very people they wish to avoid. Some people are also afraid of Santa Claus.

Let it go.

Let us pray:  Dear Jesus, we are such a score-keeping kind of people. Winning and losing, getting and keeping, such ideas fill our imaginations and drive our behaviors. We feel such kinship with this young man, both because we want the best in this life and the life to come and because we are burdened with so much. Help us loosen our grip on this life and these things and be far more mindful, and willing to act on behalf of, those who have so little. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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2 Responses to “Matthew 19:16-22”

  1. Marlys Says:

    Thank you once again for your insight. My little ones are afraid of Santa Claus and my older ones are afraid of Jesus? My prayer this blessed season of Advent is that they will welcome Him into their hearts at the Mangar♥♥♥
    Merry Christmas!

  2. Carolee Groux Says:

    Let us humble ourselves at the manger as we again celebrate our Savior Jesus Christ’s birth.
    Wishing you and your readers a blessed and meaningful Christmas

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