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You Lack One Thing

Mark 10:17-22

Rev. Kurt Hering

Trinity Lutheran Church  
Layton, Utah

Play MP3 of this sermon

Sun, Oct 11, 2009 

Preaching to the saints of the Lutheran Church at Christ-Elkhart and Faith-Hugoton in Kansas since February 8, 2015. All sermons prior to that date were preached either at Trinity Lutheran Church-Layton or First Lutheran Church-Tooele, Utah.

Dear brothers in Christ!

If you would like to hear the sermon preached at Trinity Lutheran Church in Layton, Utah for the 19th Sunday after Pentecost, click on the MP3 link provided above.

The audio includes the Hymn of the Day, "Jesus, Priceless Treasure." The sermon begins at the 5:10 mark.

God grant you and yours the One thing that you lack.

Rev. Kurt Hering, Pastor

Trinity Lutheran Church

Layton, Utah

Here is the preaching manuscript.

Our text for today's message is our holy Gospel from St. Mark the tenth chapter. As you hear it for the second time this morning, see if it strikes you as if something is missing. I'll give you a hint. It has to do with one of the first things you learned from the Catechism—the Ten Commandments. Listen as Jesus gives a catechism lesson to a certain

TEXT: 17As [Jesus] was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, "Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?" 18And Jesus said to him, "Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. 19 You know the commandments: 'Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.'" 20And he said to him, "Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth." 21And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, "You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me." 22Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. Mark 10:5-9

What's missing? The first three commandments. Why is this so important? Because they speak of our relationship with God.

By neglecting to speak of these commandments, commandments with which the rich young man most certainly was familiar, Jesus was indicating that the one thing he lacked was a relationship with the one true God—a relationship with Him.

Jesus didn't tell him to sell everything and give to the poor because that was the one thing left for the rich young man to do. Jesus told him to sell and give away all he had so he could discover what it was that he lacked--and so he would be able to see the One who was in the process of doing the one thing that must be done.

In order for the rich young man, or anyone, to inherit eternal life, God does whatever it takes to strip us of things that keep us from seeing our Savior and trusting Him to do what needs to be done and give us the one thing that we lack.

St. Cyprian, was of a wealthy and distinguished pagan background. Before becoming a Christian, he was an orator, "pleader in the courts", and a teacher of rhetoric. The date of his conversion is unknown, but after his baptism about 245-248 he gave away a portion of his wealth to the poor of Carthage. Not long after his baptism he was ordained deacon, and soon afterward presbyter; and some time between July 248 and April 249 he was chosen bishop of Carthage, a popular choice among the poor who remembered his patronage. St. Cyprian also is counted among the martyrs of Christ's church. Ironically, and befitting of his conversion and ministry, he was executed for his proclamation of the Gospel of Christ n the grounds of his own villa. [Wikipedia]

The fear and faith of God ought to make you prepared for everything, even if it should be the loss of private property, the constant and cruel harassment of your limbs by agonizing disorders, the deadly and mournful wrench from wife, from children, from departing dear ones. Let not these things be offenses to you, but battles. Do not let them weaken nor break the Christian's faith, but rather show forth his strength in the struggle, since all the injury inflicted by present troubles is to be despised in the assurance of future blessings.

"Unless the battle has preceded, there cannot be a victory. When there shall have been, after the battle, the victory, then also the crown is given to the victors. For the ship's helmsman is recognized in the tempest. In the warfare the soldier is proved. It is a meaningless display when there is no danger. Struggle in adversity is the trial of the truth. The tree that is deeply founded in its root is not moved by the onset of winds. The ship which is constructed of solid timbers is beaten by the waves and is not shattered. When the threshing floor brings out the corn, the strong and robust grains despise the winds, while the empty chaff is carried away by the blast that falls upon it." 

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. 5Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

. . . I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. 11Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. 13I can do all things through him who strengthens me. Philippians 4:4-7, 10-13

The one thing needful to rejoice, for contentment, to be strong is the one thing the rich young man lacked. It is also the one thing you and I lack no matter how much else we have or don't have. We never have enough if we do not have this one thing. And when we do have this one thing it doesn't matter that we have nothing else.

What is that one thing? And when do we have it?

In a way it is the same thing that is missing from our Gospel text this morning--for the missing Commandments are those that speak of our relationship with God. And we have that relationship with God when we are with Jesus in the hearing of His Word.

The rich young man went away sorrowful because he did not have that relationship with God. We know this because he walked away from Jesus. It would seem that Jesus is being rather cold here. Where's the Gospel? Where's the forgiveness? Where is the love?

And yet, Mark writes, "Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, "You lack one thing. . . ." the only person that Mark mentions that Jesus loved. Mark elsewhere also speaks of a young man who was following Jesus that runs away naked from Gethsemane when Jesus was arrested. There is reason to believe that young man who ran away from the Lord scared for his life was the same young man who walked away sorrowful for his riches. There is also reason to believe that this young man was none other than the author of the book containing our Gospel text today--Mark, the Evangelist.

Whether the young man in our text is Mark or not, it is about you and me. Like the rich young man, like everybody really, you and I are reluctant to give anything up. Like the young follower of Jesus, we are not too fond of the prospect of having our lives threatened. And like the rich young man, and every sinner, you and I lack one thing. The ability to do anything to inherit eternal life. For anybody to inherit anything requires one thing--that somebody who loves you and with whom you have a relationship must die.

One way to look at our upcoming move is to think like Mark. Behind all that is happening to us personally and as a congregation is the God who is looking at us, and loving us, and telling us we lack one thing.

And by neglecting to speak of those first three commandments, Jesus was telling the rich young man, and is telling us today, He is the God of whom they speak. He is the one God beside whom there is no other. His is the name we are to call upon in every trouble. And He is the Sabbath Day in whom we have our rest.

The one thing that the rich young man lacked and that you and I lack is the one thing that you receive only in when you are in a relationship with Jesus. And this one thing does not come by your keeping the commandments or anything that you can do. It comes only by the hearing of the Word and receiving of the Sacraments by which Jesus maintains His relationship with you and all believers in this world. It is the Word I give you now and which is heard throughout His holy Christian church- in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen

Insofar as this sermon is a true proclamation of the Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ, it belongs to Him and His Church. Therefore its use is free to all who deem it worthy and beneficial.

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