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SOURCE OF ETERNAL LIFE

ON THE ROAD WITH JESUS  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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INTRODUCTION:

“What must a person do to go to heaven?”If we were to walk down the streets of any city in our country and ask people this question, we would come away with many different answers. If we also went to different churches today and asked the very same question, I can assure you that we would also come back with many different answers. Some answers will be right and some will be wrong.
This is the most important question with which every human being will have to wrestle. That is because our eternal destiny depends upon the answer we claim.
Folks, let me ask you, what must a person do to go to heaven? Do you know the answer to this question? In Jesus’ day, a rich young ruler was also wrestling with this question.

1. THE RICH YOUNG RULER QUESTIONS JESUS (VV. 17).

THE RICH YOUNG RULER QUESTIONS JESUS (VV. 17).

As Jesus started on His way, a man ran up to Him and fell on his knees before Him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
As Jesus started on His way to Jerusalem, a man raced up to Jesus, fell on his knees and asked Him, “Good teacher, what must I do so that when i die, I can go to heaven?” Notice that this man thinks like many in our culture today. That is for Him to inherit eternal life or go to heaven, he thinks he must work his way there. He really wanted to know what he had to do to spend eternity with God.
In , we learned from Jesus that if we are to inherit eternal life, we must come as children depending upon Christ for our salvation. Because of our sinfulness, there is nothing we can do to get us into the kingdom of God. Since we inherited our sin nature from our first parents everything we try to do will be corrupted and will be offensive to God. This rich ruler who I believed was influenced by the pharisees of his day, thought that a person could attain eternal life or go to heaven by their works, or by doing something.

2. JESUS’ RESPONSE TO THE RICH YOUNG RULER (VV. 18-20).

“Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. No one is good-except God alone. 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, you shall honor your father and mother.” “Teacher,” he declared, all these i have kept since I was a boy.”
A. “Why do you call me good?” Within the Jewish culture, it was very unusual to call anyone good. The word “good” was reserved for God alone. Was Jesus distancing Himself from God? Jesus was in no way denying His deity. Rather, He was saying to this man, “do you realize what you are saying? Do you know how close to the truth you are?” This man was speaking to the incarnate God, the second person of the Trinity. Jesus wanted to be sure that this man knew what he was saying. There are times that Jesus would ask questions not because He did not know the answer. He asked because He wanted to draw something out of someone. For example, there was a woman with the issue of blood who touched His garment.
B. To answer the man’s question, Jesus said, “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.’”
Jesus quotes the last six commandments. To the list was added “defraud” instead of coveting. This I presumed is because this man was rich and may have defrauded people on his way to wealth. The six commandments Jesus quoted have to do with our relationship with one another.
For the second time, the rich young ruler refers to Jesus as “teacher.” He said, “Teacher all these I have kept since I was a boy.” The phrase since I was a boy referred to the age of thirteen, the time when he would have become accountable, the son of the commandment. In , the rich young ruler states, “All these I have kept, the young man said, “what do I still lack?” This man was aware that keeping the laws were inadequate for his salvation. He was hoping that there was something else he could do to qualify him for eternal life. He must have missed the Beatitudes. In the Beatitudes, Jesus taught that “evil intent is the same as deed.” The 10 Commandments speak only about acts which could be kept. This man is pointing out that he kept the laws listed by Christ. He was saying to Christ, give me something more. I have kept everything you listed perfectly from the time I was a boy. I have kept all the commandments relating to loving others. The idea that a person possessed the ability to keep the law was fairly rooted in rabbinic teaching. In his testimony in , Paul states, “…as for righteousness based on the law, faultless.” Paul is stating that he could perfectly keep the law.
We must not fool ourselves into ever thinking that we can faithfully keep the commandments of God like this man thought.

Edwards, J. R. (2002). The Gospel according to Mark (p. 311). Grand Rapids, MI; Leicester, England: Eerdmans; Apollos.
If we could keep the law then the death of Christ was irrelevant.

3. JESUS ISSUES AN INVITATION TO THE RICH YOUNG RULER (VV. 21-22).

Jesus looked at him and loved him. One thing you lack,” He said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.
A. Mark tells us that Jesus looked at him and loved him. The Greek word for “look” in this context means “to look at intently, to examine or to scrutinize.” Jesus saw right through this man. And He knew his problem. Christ will some day judge the world. And He will do it perfectly because He sees our hearts and He knows all that is taking place in our lives. We cannot hide anything from Him.
B. Jesus had compassion for the rich young ruler. There must have been something rare and admirable in the man, for of no one else in the Gospel does Mark say that Jesus “loved him.” This gives us the image of a compassionate God. In the gospel of Mark we have seen the love of Christ for people. In , He showed compassion to the leper. In , Jesus showed compassion to the crowd and in , He showed compassion to the crowd that had been with Him for many days. If you are tempted to deny the compassion of Christ, look to the cross and you will discover the greatest demonstration of compassion.
C. Jesus pointed out that this man lacked one thing. It is ironic that the man who had everything is said to have lacked something. In , Jesus stated that if we are to enter the Kingdom of God we must come like children fully depending upon Him for our entry. This man was lacking the brokenness and dependence that could get him into heaven. What he had was wealth and confidence in his own ability to do what was required to get him what he wanted. Christ stated in the book of , “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of God.” The poor in spirit are those who realize that they are spiritually bankrupt and need God’s help.
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D. We must not make the mistake to say that Jesus was setting down a universal rule. He was not saying that anyone who wanted to follow Him should divest themselves of their wealth and then come and follow Him. He was addressing a specific person. He knew this man’s heart condition.
E.
Edwards, J. R. (2002). The Gospel according to Mark (p. 312). Grand Rapids, MI; Leicester, England: Eerdmans; Apollos.
Edwards, J. R. (2002). The Gospel according to Mark (p. 312). Grand Rapids, MI; Leicester, England: Eerdmans; Apollos.
Edwards, J. R. (2002). The Gospel according to Mark (p. 312). Grand Rapids, MI; Leicester, England: Eerdmans; Apollos.
F. Jesus is turning this man’s world upside down. To the Jews, riches were a sign of God’s favor and poverty was the sign of God’s disdain. Therefore, this man who believed that he was favored by God, Jesus was telling him to sell everything and give the proceeds to the poor. Then he can come and follow Christ. This was the same command Jesus gave to His other disciples. “Whoever wants to be my disciples, must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”
G. The rich young ruler rejected Jesus’ invitation. “At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad because he had great wealth.” The Greek word that Mark uses here for sad communicates several nuances. “He was downcast, appalled, shocked, and devastated.” In , in the parable of the sower, Jesus states, “…but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful.” This man heard the gospel laid out clearly to him, but his wealth held him from following Christ. He could not give up his wealth to embrace Christ. This man received the same invitation that was given to the other disciples. In contrast, they left everything to follow Christ.
G. He was taking this man to the first commandment essentially saying, “If you claim to have kept the laws, then you shall have no other gods before me.” Jesus taught His disciples that they should eliminate anything that would keep them from the kingdom of God. In , “If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out. And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than to have two feet and be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell.” Whatever hinders us from following Christ must be eliminated. This man was not willing to give up temporary riches for an eternal one.
G. If the rich young ruler was to find eternal life, he was to find it only by embracing Christ and following Him. In , “On hearing it, many of His disciples said, “This is a hard teaching. who can accept it?” Jesus asked His other disciples, “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” This rich man left Jesus because he could not give up his wealth. If we are to find eternal life, we find it in following Christ. No other religious leader can grant us eternal life. If we are to find eternal life, we are to find it in following Christ.

Conclusion:

If a pollster met you and ask you this question, “What can I do to go to heaven,” What would be your answer? I hope you will answer with boldness, that Christ is the only way to heaven. I hope your answer would be, follow Christ and He will lead you to heaven. I hope you will say that Christ is the source of eternal life.
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