"What Will You Do With Jesus?" (June 2006)
“Behold, I will stand before thee there upon the rock in Horeb; and thou shalt smite the rock, and there shall come water out of it, that the people may drink. And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel.” (Exodus 17:6) “And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Take the rod, and gather thou the assembly together, thou, and Aaron thy brother, and speak ye unto the rock before their eyes; and it shall give forth his water, and thou shalt bring forth to them water out of the rock: so thou shalt give the congregation and their beasts drink. And Moses took the rod from before the LORD, as he commanded him. And Moses and Aaron gathered the congregation together before the rock, and he said unto them, Hear now, ye rebels; must we fetch you water out of this rock? And Moses lifted up his hand, and with his rod he smote the rock twice: and the water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their beasts also.” (Numbers 20:7-11) On two separate occasions, while the children of Israel were in the wilderness, the Lord supplied them with water from a rock. The first time the Lord told Moses to strike the rock with his rod and water came out. The second time, the Lord told Moses to speak to the rock, but Moses struck the rock two times instead. As a result of his striking the rock when the Lord told him to speak to it, Moses was not able to enter into the promise land. Why did this act of disobedience carry such a harsh consequence? “And the LORD spake unto Moses and Aaron, Because ye believed me not, to sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore ye shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them.” (verse 12) “Because ye trespassed against me among the children of Israel at the waters of MeribahKadesh, in the wilderness of Zin; because ye sanctified me not in the midst of the children of Israel. Yet thou shalt see the land before thee; but thou shalt not go thither unto the land which I give the children of Israel.” (Deutoronomy 32:51,52) What difference did it make if he smote the rock or spoke to it? Why was this such a “big deal” to God? The Lord didn’t say to Moses that he would not enter strictly because of his disobedience, but because he “trespassed against Him because he didn’t sanctify Him before the children of Israel.”
You see, this was no ordinary rock. It wasn’t just a rock that happened to be in a particular location each time. Let’s look at the scriptures to get a better description of this rock, what was so significant about it, and why God punished Moses over his mishandling of this rock. “He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he.” (Deuteronomy 32:4) “And he said, The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer. For who is God, save the LORD? and who is a rock, save our God?” (2 Samuel 22:2,32) “The God of Israel said, the Rock of Israel spake to me, He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God.” (2 Samuel 23:3) “For who is God save the LORD? or who is a rock save our God? The LORD liveth; and blessed be my rock; and let the God of my salvation be exalted.” (Psalms 18:31,46) “Unto thee will I cry, O LORD my rock; be not silent to me: lest, if thou be silent to me, I become like them that go down into the pit.” (Psalms 28:1) “I will say unto God my rock, Why hast thou forgotten me? why go I mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?” (Psalms 42:9) “He only is my rock and my salvation; he is my defence; I shall not be greatly moved.” (Psalms 62:2) “And they remembered that God was their rock, and the high God their redeemer.” (Psalms 78:35) “And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.” (1 Corinthians 10:4)
We see that this rock was Jesus. He was the Rock that followed them in the wilderness. He was the Rock that water came from to satisfy their thirst. He was also the Rock that Moses “mistreated”. His “mistreatment” of Christ had serious consequences. It wasn’t just Moses’ disobedience that kept him out of the promise land, it was the way he “handled” Christ-- what he did with Jesus.
This is the question today, “What will you do with Jesus?” What you do or don’t do with Him determines whether you go into the promise land or not-- heaven; eternal life. Many people are confused when it comes to Christianity. They think that they are a Christian because they go to church, or because they sing in the choir, give money to the church, help the poor, don’t curse, drink, smoke, gamble, haven’t cheated on their spouse, are morally good and are decent people. This is not what qualifies you to become a Christian. Moses was a good leader. Moses was a man of prayer. He had communion with God, received revelation, got the instructions on how to build the tabernacle, saw the hand of God write the Ten Commandments on stone tablets, was the only one who saw the glory of God. But he missed the promised land... all because he didn’t do the right thing with the Rock (Jesus). What makes us a Christian, what causes us to have eternal life, what gets us into heaven is what we do with Jesus.
If what we do with Jesus is the key to eternal life, then we need to know what is the “right thing” to do where He is concerned. The answer is found in a very familiar Bible story-- the story of the rich, young ruler. “And a certain ruler asked him, saying, Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? none is good, save one, that is, God. Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother.” (Luke 18:18-20) When the young man asked Jesus what he should do to inherit eternal life, Jesus begin to list the commandments: “Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother.” If you’ll notice, Jesus listed five of the ten commandments. The commandments are broken down into two parts- the first four and last one deals with your relationship to God, the other five deal with your relationship to man. Jesus started answering his question by addressing the the commandments that dealt with the young man’s relationship with his fellow man. “And he said, All these have I kept from my youth up.” From all accounts, his relationship with man was right. So Jesus then took him a step further, “Now when Jesus heard these things, he said unto him, Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me.” What did the young man lack? What was that “one thing”? He was like so many of us, we have been “doing” all the right things: going to church, giving offerings, not mistreating others-- doing all the things we mentioned above that we believe make us a Christian. But Jesus told him that was not the thing (keeping the commandments that were directed towards his fellowman) that would give him eternal life. The thing that would give him eternal life was the first four and the last commandment. “Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain. Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour's.” (Exodus 20:3,4,7,8,17) Covetousness is idolatry-- the breaking of the first commandment to have “no other gods before Him”. “Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry.” (Colossians 3:5) The commandments that the young ruler kept were the ones that dealt with his relationship with man only, but he did not keep the ones that dealt with his relationship with God. This was the “one thing” that he lacked. Your relationship with God is the answer to having eternal life. How do we have a relationship with God? Through Jesus Christ. “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.” (John 1:12)
As we look back at the rich, young ruler we saw the commandments come into play. There was another time when Jesus was asked a question, this one concerning the commandments. “Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” (Matthew 22:35-40) In these two commandments hang “all” the commandments, including the Ten Commandments-- the five that dealt with man’s relationship to God and the other five that dealt with man’s relationship with man. The rich young ruler’s problem was not in not keeping the “second” great command, it was in keeping the first: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.” He didn’t love the Lord with all his heart, he had other gods before Him, he was an idolater. How do we know this? Because his riches had his heart. “Now when Jesus heard these things, he said unto him, Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me. And when he heard this, he was very sorrowful: for he was very rich.” (Luke 18:23) He was willing to “love his neighbor as himself”, he just wasn’t willing to love God with all his heart, soul, and mind. Because he already had another god-- his riches. He wasn’t doing that “one thing” that would bring him eternal life--- loving God with all his heart, putting God above every other god, having a relationship with Him through Jesus Christ, following Him. Keeping the second great commandment is not the key to having eternal life, keeping the first one is. The Lord doesn’t want your service, your good deeds, your religious formalities, He wants your heart--- your love. That’s what He was saying to the rich young ruler, “Give Me your heart, not your good deeds.” Jesus knew He didn’t have the young man’s heart; He knew He had his “obligation” to the law, but not his love. Jesus knew the riches had his heart; He knew the riches came before Him in his life. This is why Jesus told him to sell all that he had. Jesus didn’t want this man’s money-- He wasn’t giving him another work to do. He wanted his love. He wanted him to live the first commandment-- the greatest commandment.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16) “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) When Adam sinned in the garden, it caused sin to come upon all mankind. “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.” (Romans 5:12) We are all sinners through Adam. Sin in our lives separate us from God. This separation is not God’s will or plan. Because He loves us so much, and is not willing that any should perish, He provided a way so that our sins could be forgiven and we could have eternal life. Sadly, so many Christians don’t fully understand God’s redemptive plan (I can’t say that I understand it all either). Most think that what Jesus did on the cross was just to save us from hell so that we don’t have to spend eternity in the lake of fire but can live in heaven instead. This is only part of what He did (and if that’s all He did for us- saved us from hell- that would have been more than enough, certainly, more than we deserved). But it wasn’t. In the Garden of Eden, before Adam disobeyed God and ate of the tree, God and man had a relationship. God would talk with Adam in the cool of the day, He would wait to see what Adam would name the animals, He covered him in His own glory. But sin destroyed all that. It put “enmity” between God and man (in other words, it put God on one side and man on another), they were no longer walking together in a relationship. Because God is the same yesterday, today and forever, His plan to have a relationship with man didn’t change-- He still wanted it. So His plan to redeem mankind from the wages of sin included sending His Son Jesus into the world to become sin, to pay the price that we owed, to take the punishment that we deserved for our sins. The cross was where this was accomplished. When we look at the cross, we not only see “salvation”, we see “reconciliation”. Jesus came to reconcile us back to God. To give us the opportunity to have a relationship with the Father-- a relationship that Adam once had but lost. “To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.” (2 Corinthians 5:19) “For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.” (Romans 5:10) “And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ..” (2 Corinthians 5:18a) Why did He do it? Why did He endure the shame, the pain, the humiliation of the cross? Because He loved us and wanted a relationship with us.
The rich young ruler didn’t understand. He thought it was about having a right relationship with people. It wasn’t. It was about having a right relationship with the Father, through Jesus Christ. He thought it was about keeping the commandments. It wasn’t. It was about keeping the “Great commandment”. He thought it was about religious service. It wasn’t. It was about relationship. He thought he could “pick and choose” which ones to keep and it would be all right. It wasn’t. If you are going to count on keeping the commandments to save you, then you have to keep them all. “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.” (James 2:10)
When Moses struck the Rock instead of speaking to it, he did it the way he wanted to do it, not the way God required. This is how we don't do the “right” thing with Jesus-- by trying to inherit eternal life our own way. Our way is to do religious acts and good deeds. Our way is by living a good, moral life and trying to do what’s right. It’s not about doing it “our way”. Our way will get us into trouble just like it did Moses when he did it his way. It’s about doing it God’s way. God’s way is through Jesus... putting our faith in what He did for us at the cross, and loving Him with all our heart, soul and mind. God’s way is the way of love and relationship. So what will you do with Jesus today? Love Him and give Him your heart?