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Matthew 19:16-22

The Seeking Heart

  • Rich Jones
  • Weekend Messages
  • May 21, 2017

This life we’ve been given is a precious gift and God meant us to spend it with meaning and purpose. Many people are searching because there’s something missing, there’s a void in their lives. There's a deep longing in our hearts for the gracious love that only God can give and people spend much of their lives seeking after that love in all the wrong places. But you don't have to search any longer; you can accept His love and forgiveness right here and now.

  • Sermon Notes
  • Scripture

The Seeking Heart

Matthew 19:16-22

I want us to look at the story of a man who comes to Jesus seeking answers for his life. It’s an important story because many people today are also seeking answers. At one time or another most people come to the point where they ask the really big questions in life, “Why am I here? What is the meaning of life? What will happen to me when I die?”

When I run into people in high school or college I like to ask what they’re planning on doing with their lives. Usually their answer has something to do with the career they would like to pursue. But if they think about it more they’ll talk about wanting to get married and having some kids and then maybe retiring and doing some traveling. But then what?

In the big picture of things, this life is only a small part. We’re all going to die and face eternity. The statistics on death are pretty impressive; something like one out of every one persons is going to die. And then what?

This life we’ve been given is a precious gift and God meant us to spend it with meaning and purpose. Many people are searching because there’s something missing, there’s a void in their lives, but to quote the famous American philosopher and country western singer, Waylon Jennings, they’re “looking for love in all the wrong places.”

Which reminds me of a story of a drunk guy down on his hands and knees under a streetlight looking for something. A police officer approached and said, “Sir, did you lose something?”… Here’s the thing, it isn’t any good looking for truth if you’re looking in the wrong place.

Jesus said, “I am the Truth, the Way, and the Life.” In another place the scripture says, “All the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are found in Him.”

I. The World’s Treasure Maps are Wrong

  • By the standards of many people, this man seems to have had it all. This man was young, and he was wealthy and powerful.
  • These are things the world greatly desires. He was young, and it seems our culture practically worships being young. Wealth and power are also greatly desired.
  • But he lacked something, he had all these things, but he didn’t have eternal life. And if he didn't have eternal life, he couldn't be satisfied in this world either.
  • There is a wonderful quote by Calvin Miller, "The world is poor because her fortune is buried in heaven, but all her treasure maps are of the earth…"

A. It’s not enough to have it all

  • This young man has all these things, but he's empty, he’s restless, he lacks peace. He knows these things are not enough to bring life.
  • Many people can relate. 

Illus - We are in the top 5 percent of the world's wealth. You can have things today that were once unimaginable. Samsung just came out with a UHD large screen TV that is 110 inches. The only problem with it is you have to sit in your neighbor’s living room and watch it from across the street.

  • By the way, it's not that God has anything against wealth itself. There were many famous people in the bible that God loved and honored that were wealthy.
  • Abraham was most certainly wealthy, as were his sons Isaac and Jacob. Joseph in Egypt became one of the wealthiest men in his time. David certainly became a wealthy man, and the world has yet to find an equal to Solomon in regards to wealth. So wealth itself is not the issue.

Illus – What we do know is that you can have it all, but it's not enough; it doesn’t satisfy the soul. All you have to do is look at all the “successful, wealthy people” in the world who have melted down their lives.

Luke 12:15, Then Jesus said to them, “Beware, and be on your guard; for even when one has an abundance, his life does not consist of his possessions.”

B. Doing good things is also not enough

  • The young man asked, “What good thing shall I do that I may obtain eternal life?”
  • First, Jesus confronts his use of the word "good." “There is only One who is good,” Jesus said.
  • That’s an important truth. Many people think they are good; I mean, after all, they recycle, they help old ladies cross the street, they even help save the whales.
  • The problem is that they are comparing themselves to others, but when you’re standing before the God of all creation, it won’t be a comparison to other people, it will be a comparison to the holiness of God Himself.
  • Here’s the truth; good people don’t go to heaven, only forgiven people go to heaven, because none of us are good enough.
  • Jesus then said to the young man, "You know the commandments, if you wish to enter into life, keep them." Jesus's answer is clear, "If you want to enter life by your doing; then keep the commandments." 
  • To our surprise the young man responds, "Which ones?" There's a part of me that wishes Jesus would have said, "What you mean, ‘which ones?’ If you want to be good keep all of them!"

James 2:10, Whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles on one point has become guilty of all.

  • But Jesus graciously leads him down a path to discover the truth about his own heart.
  • Interestingly, Jesus lists commandments that have to do with relating to others, including, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
  • The young man answered that he had kept all these things since he was young, "What am I still lacking?"  
  • You might be surprised how many people would give a similar answer. Some people say, “I live by the 10 Commandments and that’s all the religion I need.” Really? Can you even name the 10 Commandments?
  • Everyone has broken the commandments of God and He knows that full well, that’s why He sent His Son, to make a way for sinners to be reconciled to God.
  • When many people hear this man’s answer, they suspect he's not being honest. 

Illus – They want Jesus to bring out some holographic video of the young man “borrowing” his brother's clothes, or hiding the garbage behind the garage door instead of taking it out; many think he's not being completely truthful with that answer.

  • But we know from the book of Mark that when Jesus heard this answer, he felt love for him.

Illus – The young man was sincere and Jesus knew it. Some people ask questions that are not sincere at all, but this man is sincere and Jesus loves him.

II. One Thing is Needed; Follow Jesus

  • If you believe Jesus is a Good Teacher, then you must also believe that He teaches what is good. It's good because it's based on God’s love for us.
  • There was something standing in the way of this young man having true and complete life, and life eternal.

A. Let go of it; leave the world behind

  • Jesus was offering this man an opportunity to become a disciple, but all his possessions were standing in the way. It’s interesting that we call the things we own ‘possessions.’
  • The problem, however, comes when they possess you.
  • For this rich, young ruler, all his stuff had become an idol in his life and Jesus told him to get rid of it so he could follow Him.

Illus - This is a lesson we have to keep learning all our lives. Many don’t come to the point that they’re willing to let go of this world until they’re on their deathbed.

  • If Jesus is taking something out of your life, it’s because he wants to bring something in that’s much better, but there’s something standing in the way.
  • When you ask Jesus into your life He’s going to throw your old stuff out, He’s going to clean out the mess, so He can give you new life.

App - He’ll get rid of emptiness, despair, loneliness, misery, and fear; and he’ll bring in meaning and purpose and fulfillment, peace, joy, and hope.

Illus – Last week I was in Texas visiting a federal penitentiary where inmates, recently graduated from seminary, are becoming chaplain’s assistants. I asked them, “What does this mean for you personally?”

Are there things in your life the Lord is asking you to get rid of?

  • For this young man it was his stuff, his possessions, for someone else it might be their alcohol, for someone else, their wallet full of credit cards, for someone else, they need accountability while on the Internet, for someone else, their unforgiving bitterness.
  • Remember, Jesus loved him and He loves you, too.
  • He knows there is no life in those things.

App - If sex truly satisfied the soul, prostitutes would be the happiest people on earth. If alcohol truly satisfied the soul, alcoholics would be the happiest people on earth, and on and on.

B. The world behind me, the cross before me

  • What’s holding you back from giving your life to Jesus and asking Him into your life as Lord and Savior?
  • There is an old song we used to sing in the church that captured this beautifully, "I have decided to follow Jesus…”

Illus – When Matthew was called to follow Jesus, he got up, left behind his tax collector’s table and followed Jesus.

  • Jesus is saying that it's only when we recognize our spiritual poverty, our great need, the impossibility of saving ourselves, that we can be saved.
  • The man walked away sad. How will you walk away? Here’s the thing, you’ll never regret getting your life right with God.

Illus – The famous rapper, Eminem, once rapped in one of his songs, “I want the money, the women, the fortune, the fame. If it means I end up burning in hell or scorched in the flames; if it means I’m stealing your checkbook and forging your name, it’s a lifetime of bliss for eternal torture and pain.”

But another, much more insightful poet, John Newton, wrote, “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now I’m found, was blind, but now I see.”

Matthew 19:16-22    NASB

16 And someone came to Him and said, "Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may obtain eternal life?" 17 And He said to him, "Why are you asking Me about what is good? There is only One who is good; but if you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments." 18 Then he said to Him, "Which ones?" And Jesus said, "You shall not commit murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; 19 Honor your father and mother; and You shall love your neighbor as yourself." 20 The young man said to Him, "All these things I have kept; what am I still lacking?" 21 Jesus said to him, "If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me." 22 But when the young man heard this statement, he went away grieving; for he was one who owned much property.

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