Mark – God is On Our Side!
My Sunday School class was probably going to be a small group that morning because of a previous late night snow storm. The first student to arrive was Ashley with her mom. Her mom apologized for being so early but she didn’t know how hard it would be to get to church and then went on to her class. As I was getting all the activity pieces laid out for the students, Ashley, a six year old, who always had words to say, talked non stop about her week. We talked about the snow and what she was going to do in the snow after church.
In the middle of all the words, Ashley tumbled out a question that made me stop what I was doing to listen more closely to what she was thinking behind her simple question. “Do I just have to be really good to get to heaven?”
I explained to her God’s plan of salvation and living life on his terms. To go to heaven is about believing who Jesus is and what He did to completely forgive us of all the wrong things we have done. In child like faith, that we talked about in yesterday’s “Daily Manna with Your Mug”, she said, “I believe. I want Jesus to save me. I’ve been wanting that for a while, now.” We prayed together, first me, then Ashley. Another student then came through the door. Ashley blurted out, “I have Jesus in my heart!” That student, who was a bit older, all of seven, immediately said, “Oh, I want Jesus, too!” So I started the conversation of salvation over again, with Ashley helping me.
What must I do to gain eternal life? Accept and believe Jesus. Then follow Him no matter what He asks you to do for He will be with you always. You will never regret this life or death decision.
Mark 10, NLT
The Rich Man
17 As Jesus was starting out on his way to Jerusalem, a man came running up to him, knelt down, and asked, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
18 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus asked. “Only God is truly good. 19 But to answer your question, you know the commandments: ‘You must not murder. You must not commit adultery. You must not steal. You must not testify falsely. You must not cheat anyone. Honor your father and mother.’”
20 “Teacher,” the man replied, “I’ve obeyed all these commandments since I was young.”
21 Looking at the man, Jesus felt genuine love for him. “There is still one thing you haven’t done,” he told him. “Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
22 At this the man’s face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions.
23 Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the Kingdom of God!” 24 This amazed them. But Jesus said again, “Dear children, it is very hard to enter the Kingdom of God. 25 In fact, 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 The disciples were astounded. “Then who in the world can be saved?” they asked.
27 Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But not with God. Everything is possible with God.”
28 Then Peter began to speak up. “We’ve given up everything to follow you,” he said.
29 “Yes,” Jesus replied, “and I assure you that everyone who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or property, for my sake and for the Good News, 30 will receive now in return a hundred times as many houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and property—along with persecution. And in the world to come that person will have eternal life. 31 But many who are the greatest now will be least important then, and those who seem least important now will be the greatest then.”
Of all the people who ever came to the feet of Jesus, this man is the only one who went away worse than he came. And yet he had so much in his favor! He was a young man (Matt. 19:22) with great potential. He was respected by others, for he held some ruling office, perhaps in a local court (Luke 18:18). Certainly he had manners and morals, and there was enough desire in his heart for spiritual things that he ran up to Jesus and bowed at His feet. In every way, he was an ideal young man, and when Jesus beheld him, He loved him.
With all of his fine qualities, the young man was very superficial in his views of spiritual things. He certainly had a shallow view of salvation, for he thought that he could do something to earn or merit eternal life. This was a common belief in that day among the Jews (John 6:28), and it is very common today. Most unsaved people think that God will one day add up their good works and their bad works, and if their good works exceed their bad works, they will get into heaven.
Behind this good-works approach to salvation is a superficial view of sin, man, the Bible, Jesus Christ, and salvation. Sin is rebellion against the holy God. It is not simply an action; it is an inward attitude that exalts man and defies God. Did this young man actually think that he could do a few religious works and settle his account with the holy God?
The young man had a superficial view of Jesus Christ. He called Him “Good Master” (Teacher), but we get the impression that he was trying to flatter the Lord, for the Jewish rabbis did not allow the word good to be applied to them. Only God was good, and the word must be reserved for Him alone. Jesus was not denying that He was God; rather, He was affirming it. He just wanted to be sure that the young man really knew what he was saying and that he was willing to accept the responsibilities involved.
This explains why Jesus pointed the young man to the law of Moses: He wanted him to see himself as a sinner bowed before the holy God. We cannot be saved from sin by keeping the law (Gal. 2:16–21; Eph. 2:8–10). The law is a mirror that shows us how dirty we are, but the mirror cannot wash us. One purpose of the law is to bring the sinner to Christ (Gal. 3:24), which is what it did in this man’s case. The law can bring the sinner to Christ, but the law cannot make the sinner like Christ. Only grace can do that.
The young ruler did not see himself as a condemned sinner before the holy God. He had a superficial view of the law of God, for he measured obedience only by external actions and not by inward attitudes. As far as his actions were concerned, he was blameless (see Phil. 3:6), but his inward attitudes were not blameless, because he was covetous. He may have kept some of the commandments, but the last commandment caught him: “Thou shalt not covet!” Covetousness is a terrible sin; it is subtle and difficult to detect, and yet it can cause a person to break all the other commandments. “For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil” (1 Tim. 6:10). Looking at this young man, you would conclude that he had everything, but Jesus said that one thing was lacking: a living faith in God. Money was his god: he trusted it, worshiped it, and got his fulfillment from it. His morality and good manners only concealed a covetous heart.
Our Lord’s directions in Mark 10:21 are not to be applied to everyone who wants to become a disciple, because Jesus was addressing the specific needs of the rich young ruler. The man was rich, so Jesus told him to liquidate his estate and give the money to the poor. The man was a ruler, so Jesus told him to take up a cross and follow Him, which would be a humbling experience. Jesus offered this man the gift of eternal life, but he turned it down. It is difficult to receive a gift when your fist is clenched around money and the things money can buy. The Greek word translated “grieved” gives the picture of storm clouds gathering. The man walked out of the sunshine and into a storm! He wanted to get salvation on his terms, and he was disappointed.
The disciples were shocked at the Lord’s declaration about wealth, because most Jews thought that the possession of great wealth was the evidence of God’s special blessing. Many people today still cling to this error, in spite of the message of Job, the example of Christ and the apostles, and the clear teaching of the New Testament. In the case of this young man, his wealth robbed him of God’s greatest blessing, eternal life. Today, wealth continues to make rich people poor and the first last (see 1 Cor. 1:26–31).
Money is a marvelous servant but a terrible master. If you possess money, be grateful and use it for God’s glory; but if money possesses you, beware! It is good to have the things that money can buy, provided you don’t lose the things that money cannot buy. The deceitfulness of riches had so choked the soil of this young man’s heart that he was unable to receive the good seed of the Word and be saved (Matt. 13:22). What a bitter harvest he would reap one day!
However, Peter’s response indicated that there were a few problems in his own heart. “What then will there be for us?” (Matt. 19:27 nasb). This statement reveals a rather commercial view of the Christian life: “We have given up everything for the Lord; now, what will we get in return?” Contrast Peter’s words with those of the three Hebrew men in Daniel 3:16–18, and with Peter’s later testimony in Acts 3:6. He certainly came a long way from “What will I get?” to “What I have, I will give!”
Jesus assured His disciples that no one who follows Him will ever lose what is really important, either in this life or in the life to come. God will reward each one. However, we must be sure our motives are right: “For my sake and the gospel’s” (see Mark 8:35). The well-known Christian industrialist of the twentieth century, R. J. LeTourneau, used to say, “If you give because it pays, it won’t pay!” If we sacrifice only to get a reward, that reward will never come.
Note that Jesus also promised “persecutions.” He had already told His disciples what both the Jews and Gentiles would do to Him in Jerusalem, and now He informed them that they would have their share of persecution. God balances blessings with battles, developing mature sons and daughters.
To the general public, the rich ruler stood first and the poor disciples stood last. But God saw things from the perspective of eternity—and the first became last while the last became first! Those who are first in their own eyes will be last in God’s eyes, but those who are last in their own eyes will be rewarded as first! What an encouragement for true disciples!
REFLECT AND PRAY
Is there anything between God and me?
What must I do?
What am I willing to give up to gain eternal life? All? Part?
What is my motivation in following Christ?
What is my motivation in loving Jesus and others?
What is our true motivation of heart in serving others?
Dear Heavenly Father, Lord and Savior,
We repent of times our hearts go after things of this world that are not of You. We repent of doing things as a way to get a reward in heaven. thinking we will better than someone else in doing it. You know our hearts. Keep us focused on You and what You want. I do not want anything to stand in the way of our relationship. I love you, Lord. Heart, mind and soul.
In Jesus Name, Amen