(Part 2 of a sermon based on Luke 18:18-30)
Entering the Kingdom of God (vv. 24-27)
So from Jesus’ demand to trust God and to rely on Him for salvation, Luke now focuses on Christ’s sad comment about the man. Jesus said, “It is hard for the rich to enter the kingdom of God.” As we can see the expression ‘to enter the kingdom of God’ is closely related to the idea of obtaining eternal life and salvation.
To enter the kingdom of God is to inherit eternal life, and ultimately to be saved. But why is it that Christ said, ‘How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God’? Does it mean there are no rich people who can be saved? That could not be. We know Abraham and Job were rich people. Zacchaeus was also rich, and probably Barnabas.
One scholar has rightly said, “The inability to trust God and be humble can come with [self-preoccupation] and greed that money can bring” (see further Luke 6:24; 12:15, 21). While in some occasions wealth is a sign of divine blessing, those who pursue wealth and hold on to them can be distracted from pursuing God.
So what Jesus meant was that "those who persist in letting their riches come between themselves and their allegiance to God can never be saved." Anything that enslaves a person, whether money or other things, also keeps him from entering God’s kingdom. For God’s kingdom is for those who humbly submit to His kingship.
You cannot be a citizen of the God’s kingdom unless you confess with your mouth and believe in your heart that Jesus is your Lord and God is your one and only King. That’s the essence of entering the kingdom of God. The most important thing for you to do as citizen of the kingdom is to seek and to obey God and His will first above all else.
Earlier Jesus told his disciples that the kingdom of God belongs to the children (18:16, 17). The attitude being emphasized there is that children easily accept Christ’s calling and teaching. They simply trust God and obey what He says. So their trust and obedience to the Lord stand in stark contrast to the rich young ruler’s cold response and disregard of Jesus’ demand.
Again the point is that, those who trust on something other than God for their salvation will not obtain it. Those who want to enter the kingdom of God on their on terms will be surprised to know that they are excluded from it.
In the first place, it is God who has the prerogative who is in and who is out of His kingdom. He grants the privilege to anyone He is pleased to give to be in the kingdom. In Jesus’ word, “What is impossible with men is possible with God.”
So who has the power to grant eternal life? Who holds the key to the kingdom of God? No one except God alone. That’s what we have to remember always. If we belong to God’s kingdom, that’s only because God accepts us and loves us in His Son. He is pleased to give us to His Son Jesus Christ. By faith, we are united with Him and granted everything we need in order to live in this world as His subjects. Also in the life to come, He promises to clothe us with the righteousness of His Son so we can stand in His presence and see Him face to face.
However, those who want be in His kingdom, God asks one thing. In our text, we can see that the disciples fulfilled, again only by the grace of God, what is being asked: to be able to leave everything in order to follow Christ (v. 28).