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Mark 153 - No Surprises



You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud, honor your father and mother.’”


“Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.”


Mark 10:19,20


Very few people like surprises. There are a lot of people that fake happiness, and even joy, when they are surprised. But deep down inside, many of us don’t like surprises.


We may like a surprise party, an unexpected pay raise or bonus, a surprise visit from a friend or family member. Heck, we may even like a surprise on our favorite TV show or series.


But when it comes to tests, no one likes a surprise. Except of course for Hermione Granger of Harry Potter fame or Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory. But they’re fictional characters, not based on any real person, current or historical, so they don’t count.


So, when this guy wants to know the way to eternal life, Jesus doesn’t pull out a pop quiz of things that he doesn’t know. Jesus goes right to the core of his culture. His upbringing. The center of who he is.


Jesus doesn’t pull any punches either, he tells him the unvarnished truth. Straight up and full strength. There’s nothing weak or watered-down about what Jesus tells him. Jesus goes right to the source; he goes to the Hebrew scriptures and shows him what kind of a life he is to live.


God doesn’t try and hide who he is. Who we are. How to have a loving, completely transparent, and intimate relationship with him. God is the God of all creation, and his creation not only points to him, it screams in our face, trying to get our attention off of ourselves and back onto him.


God’s not at the final table of the poker game of life, keeping his cards hidden. He’s not hiding behind big, dark sunglasses. He’s not pulling his hoodie all around, trying to hide any “tell” about what he’s really thinking.


So, Jesus tells this guy what he already knows. There are no surprises here. No unexpected hoops to jump through. Not even a single new hoop. God is a God not just of love, but the God of communication. Before there was anyone else other than God, there was love and communication within God himself. There is one God, God the Father was loving and communicating with God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. God the Son was loving and communicating with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit. God the Holy Spirit was loving and communicating with God the Father and God the Son.


We’re made by a loving, deeply personal God. And our highest purpose and goal in this life is to have a loving, deeply personal, transparent, and intimate relationship with our heavenly Father.


From our perspective, He went to a lot of trouble to make us. We are barely scratching the surface as we study DNA. How the brain works. How we see in live action, color, and in three-dimensions.


And our response to this great, compassionate, and loving heavenly Father was to turn away from him and his kindness. He would have every right to turn his back on us, throw us away as a rebellious, broken toy.


But that’s not who he is. That’s not what he’s like. There’s virtually nothing he won’t do to get us back. And so he was willing to come to earth himself. No substitutes. No avatars. No one was going to get in his way of bringing us back to himself.


When Jesus came, he was fully God and fully man. No 50-50, no 70-30. God the Son left his eternal power and glory to take up manhood. And then he took up all the kinds of temptations we encounter, but without failure. Without sin. And then he took up the cross to pay the ultimate, once-and-for-all price for our wayward rebellion.


This is the God of history. The God of eternity. This is Jesus. There is an old hymn that expresses it so well.


Guilty, helpless, lost were we;

blameless Lamb of God was he,

full atonement, can it be?

Hallelujah, what a Savior![1]


We were lost, helpless, hopeless, powerless to change. It was for this kind of person Jesus came. He didn’t come for people that had it all together. Had all the answers. Were better than everyone else. Better than anyone else.


He came for the guilty, helpless, lost. He came for us, just as we are. And just as we are, we come to him. No need to try and clean ourselves up, he does that.


Isn’t it time to come to him? Run to him?

[1] Man of sorrows, Author: P. P. Bliss (1875)

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