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This week I have been reading from “The Gospel According to Matthew”, and as I have done so God has opened up this telling of Jesus Christ in a new and different way. The words came alive in a way I had never seen them before and in many ways it was as though I was hearing them for the first time. Of all that I read one verse in particular that I had read two days ago stood out and I kept referencing back to it as I read on. I guess I had not really noticed it before or was just more focused on the surrounding verses. The verse that I am referring to is Matthew 16:27, Jesus is talking with the twelve, He asks them who do men say that He is, then He asks them who do they say that He is. Peter says: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” The Lord proceeds to tell them how He was going to suffer at the hands of the elders, chief priest and scribes, that He would be killed and be raised from the dead the third day. Peter rebukes Him and the Lord says, “Get behind Me Satan!” Then the Lord tells them how to be saved and I have found in this reading of Matthew this same plan of salvation runs through every story and parable, “For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it” (Matthew 16:25). Then the Lord tells of His coming and this was opened to me like it had never been done before. Jesus is not returning as a man, Jesus as returning as God in all of His glory! “For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angles, and then He will reward each according to his works” (Matthew 16:27). Then in chapter 24 He tells of the end of times and His return and all I could think was, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:31). Really, think about this for a moment. Jesus is not returning as the Lamb of God, He is returning in the glory of the Father, and says that He will reward each according to his works. My question to you is do you really want to be rewarded according to your works?

Let us look at the story of “The rich young ruler”. He comes to Jesus saying, “Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?” In other words he was asking Jesus what work he must do to be rewarded. Jesus gives him the answer immediately when He says, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God.” This man like most men thought there is something or things that he could do to be considered good, that by his works he could be rewarded with eternal life. Jesus then proceeds to give him the commandments and says that if you keep all of those you will have eternal life. He did this so that the man would see his sinful state before God. What does the law of God do? It brings the knowledge of sin, “for by the law is the knowledge of sin” (Romans 3:20). This man is before God incarnate, and he is given the law of God by Him who gave the law and he denies that he has broken the law. Even with that the Lord gives him the way to eternal life. Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come follow Me” (Matthew 19:21). I have heard this story preached about on many occasions and most times the one preaching says that this man’s god was his money. I don’t think so! This man was holding on to something else, something that is even harder for a man to give up than worldly wealth and that thing is self-righteousness. He had a death grip on self-righteousness and was not about to let it go for anything. Jesus said: “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me” (Matthew 16:24). This man’s worldly wealth wasn’t the problem, his problem was that he refused to die to self, he refused to give up his self-righteousness and that is what he needed to sell. “For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.” (Matthew 16:25).

So I ask you, do you really want to be rewarded according to your works? I know I don’t, that is why I am not trusting in my works but I am trusting in the works of Jesus Christ to save me from the wrath of the living God. “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:31).

Repent and trust alone in Jesus Christ,
Mike Peek

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