Good morning church! How’s everyone doing? For the last few months as a church we’ve been studying the gospel of Mark. We’ve completed a little over half of this book and are now in Mark 10:17-31.
Much of this gospel seeks to answer two questions: “Who is Jesus” and “if Jesus is God, then what does it mean for both you and me”. After all we probably know what it means to follow human leaders but what does it mean to follow God? There is this strong focus on being a follower of Jesus Christ that can’t be ignored in this gospel.
Does my entire life need to change? Or do I need to change a few habits here and there? These are the kind of questions we’ll attempt to answer as we look at today’s passage in Mark 10 starting in verse 17.
17 And as he 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?” 18 And 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.’”
20 And he said to him, “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.” 21 And 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.” 22 Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.
23 And Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” 24 And the disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how difficult it is[b] to enter the kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” 26 And they were exceedingly astonished, and said to him,[c] “Then who can be saved?”
27 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.” 28 Peter began to say to him, “See, we have left everything and followed you.” 29 Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel,
30 who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life. 31 But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”
“You must sacrifice short term pleasure for long term success.” Those are the words I told myself when I returned back to the gym after a long gap. The short-term pleasure being my love for eating fried food. I think every person at least superficially understands this concept: “You’ll need to give up something for the achieving something better”.
But Jesus totally turns this concept on its head when he says “You receive eternal life by abandoning everything”. “You follow me by leaving everything” “You will gain life by losing everything”. In the kingdom of God, we gain by losing everything! And it’s radically different from the way the world thinks. The world says “You gain by accumulating everything”.
After all it’s not the first time Jesus mentioned something like this. A few chapters earlier he said that if you want to be the greatest, you need to be least and a servant of all. Last week we read the passage where Jesus says unless you receive the kingdom of God like a child, you can’t enter it.
It’s truly an upside-down kingdom! The principles of this kingdom of God is the opposite of what we are used to experiencing every single day. That’s why there’s even more reason for us to pay close attention to hear the seriousness in the call to follow Jesus. It’s a weighty call but a yet a very fulfilling one.
So how can we gain life by losing everything?
We gain by losing our self-reliance (v17-20)
One of the biggest barriers that often prevents us from following Jesus completely is our dependence on our own self – our abilities, our ideas, our accomplishments, our good works.
We love the idea of a “self-made man” even though we might not declare it publicly. We see the same trait in the rich young man. His self-reliance prevented him from:
Confronting the reality of God (v17,18)
He approaches Jesus and calls Him “Good Teacher”. Interesting way of addressing Jesus. And Jesus asks him “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone”.In other words, Jesus was asking him “Are you approaching me just as a teacher or as God?”
“Are you here just for good advice or do you want to really know me?” He had Jesus Christ – the Son of God, Maker of the heavens and the earth, the Messiah who saves the world, the sustainer of all creation right in front of him and he was blind to it.
Even his question was “What can I do to receive eternal life?” instead of “Jesus, can you give me eternal life?”.
Also his self-reliance prevented him from Conceiving the Holy Standards of God (v19)
Jesus starts listing out the Ten Commandments. “Do not murder…Do not commit adultery” And we know that God didn’t give His people the commandments so that they could perform, He gave them the commandments so that they would understand the holiness and righteousness of God.
I heard it once mentioned like this – God told us to not murder because He is life. God told us to not commit adultery because He is pure. God told us not to lie because He is truth! The rich young man failed to conceive the great divide between him and God. In Romans 3, Paul says the same thing. He says by the law no one becomes right with God…but the law was given so that you know that you have sinned.
His self-reliance prevented him from Confessing his need for a Savior (v20)
Because he thought he was doing exceptionally well in his performance, he basically was saying “Jesus, I know all this. What next?” He didn’t see how bad was his condition and how he needed to be rescued by God.Imagine a guy.
Let’s call him Jimmy who newly joins a company. A few days later he meets another colleague called Rohit. Since Jimmy is new to the company, Rohit takes time out to help him understand what he’s supposed to do. Instead Jimmy responds by saying “Rohit, you don’t have to do this. I already know all of this. I’ve been doing this forever.
” Shortly after this incident someone else comes and refers to Rohit as “Sir”. Jimmy is quite surprised and inquires and finds out that Rohit is the CEO of the company. Trouble!!! The CEO sits down with Jimmy and tells him how he wasn’t actually doing his job correctly as he imagined. Not only did Jimmy insult the CEO by claiming to know more than the CEO but his attitude didn’t allow him to receive the necessary help to grow.
I think that’s what happens to us in our self-reliance and pride. Sometimes we are blinded to think how our efforts to have a consistent time with God everyday, being able to share the gospel with multiple people during the week or being a regular church attender or having restrained ourselves from falling into a particular sin in the week or our knowledge of the Bible is what makes us right before God.
These are all good things but your performance on these things doesn’t determine if you are right with God or not. In fact, if you are self-reliant you won’t be confronted with the reality of God as you read the Word, you won’t conceive the Holy Standard of God and neither will you confess your need for the Savior Jesus. You can see how self-reliance is a big barrier.
But not only do we need to lose our self-reliance, but we also need to
Lose our treasure (v21-25)
When Jesus told the rich young man to forsake his possessions, Jesus wanted to uncover what this man valued deeply – what he considered to be his treasure.
Jesus is essentially saying is that our heart matters more than our external acts of obedience! More than often our external acts of obedience is a mask to hide what’s really going on in our heart. Two things about heart treasures:
We treasure what we love (v21-22)
Till this point it seemed like the rich young man was willing to do whatever was needed to inherit eternal life but when Jesus told him to give up his treasure and possessions, he became extremely sad and went away because he loved money.
Right before him were two choices – Jesus Christ – Son of God – the one who could give him eternal life & money and he chose money. He gave up the eternal for what was temporary. You see the principle there – What he loved determined his choice.
You want to know what’s your heart treasure? Ask yourself this…what is the one thing or person in my life whose presence or absence changes my behavior? Think about a scenario when this thing or person is taken away from you forever, how is that going to make you feel? Would you lose all meaning to life? Would life seem worthless after that?
If the same meeting was done over and over again with the rich young man, do you think his response would’ve been different? No, because we treasure what we love.
We treasure what we trust
In v23-25, Jesus multiple times talks about how difficult and impossible it is for wealthy people to enter the kingdom of God.
Just to clarify Jesus is not saying that people above a certain income level are not going to enter the kingdom of God. Abraham, Isaac, David, Solomon are examples of godly men who were wealthy but I think Jesus meant those who trust in riches will not enter the kingdom of heaven.
But why such a strong judgment against those who trust in riches? I think it’s because wealth like any other heart treasure gives us an illusion of providing us with safety, security and joy.
It replaces itself in the place of God. That’s what makes us completely dependent on it. We say things like “We cannot live without it”. It in reality becomes our god.
I’m reminded of my friend whom I spoke to a few weeks back who went through a difficult break up. As we were speaking we were able to identify that this relationship was indeed his treasure. He didn’t know how to deal with the relationship breaking off.
To the extent where he was contemplating leaving the city and also hurting himself. I felt like it was a visual picture for me on how disastrous can it be to have heart treasures apart from God.
It’s not just with wealth and money. Some of us have made our jobs and careers our treasure. Others have made our relationships and family to be our treasure. Some of us have made self-pleasure our treasure. Maybe habits can be changed, but how do you change your love? How do you change what your trust?
That’s exactly the question that Peter asked…“Well then who can be saved?” And Jesus says “What is impossible for man is possible for God”. In other words, God needs to make a provision for you and I to lose our self-reliance & also lose our treasure.
God sent His one and only Son to the earth. Jesus Christ Himself lived the life you and I was required to live but couldn’t live. Ultimately, He died the death we all deserved to die.
He rose again on the third Day crushing not just the penalty of sin but also freeing us from the power of Sin. Do you want to change your love? Realize you’ll need God to perform a heart surgery to do that. He can certainly do it!
So what do we do in response to this great and amazing love? V28-30 says that…we lose everything that keeps us from following God and turn to Christ. We repent and trust Christ.
We repent and trust Christ. And this will invite persecution and rejection from family members as we see happening in reality with one of our brothers right now.
But we gladly follow Christ in spite of that because we love Him, we treasure Him, we trust Him and are deeply thankful for doing everything that was done for us.
Sometimes we forget how the story of God is the story of our God and Savior losing everything – he literally died so that He could rescue us in order to gain an everlasting relationship with us. Why should we be self-reliant? Why shouldn’t He be our only treasure? Lose everything to gain Him through His perfect work.