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The God who makes things happen

On The Road With Jesus  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Introduction:

Some people walk away from the church because they do not like what God’s Word says on certain issues. So, according to these people, the culture determines what is right and wrong. What is right or wrong is determined by the majority and not by God. For this reason, if the Word of God goes against the view the culture holds, they demand the church to get with the times. For example, marriage should be between one man and one woman for life. Or the only ground for divorce should be because of adultery or the abandoning of a spouse by an unbeliever. Or sex should only take place between a man and woman after marriage vows have been exchanged. And holding onto orthodox view like these offend some people.
This rich young ruler was not different. He had a question for Jesus. He did not like what Jesus said, so he refused Jesus’ invitation and walked away. Someone rightly said, the more things change, the more they stay the same.
Some people walk away from the church because they do not like what God’s word say on certain issues. For example, marriage should be between one man and one woman for life. Or the only ground for divorce should be because of adultery or the abandoning of a spouse by an unbeliever. And holding onto orthodox view like this offends some people. Or sex should only take place between a man and woman after marriage vows have been exchanged.

Jesus teaches His disciples about the danger of wealth (vv. 23-25).

Jesus teaches His disciples about the danger of wealth (vv. 23-25).

Jesus teaches His disciples about the danger of wealth (vv. 23-25).

After Jesus’ encounter with this young rich ruler, Mark states that Jesus looked around and said to His disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God…Children how hard it is to enter the Kingdom of God!”
The Greek word for “look” in this verse occurs six times in Mark’s Gospel and only once elsewhere in the New Testament, that is . It signifies a commanding survey of the situation, as though Jesus looked around to see whether this man’s response to His invitation negatively affected the disciples. He looked around as if to see whether the disciples were to follow this man.
Jesus made this statement two times. You should know that repetition is a literary device to get our attention. Jesus is emphasizing His point, that it is difficult for a rich person to enter God’s kingdom. The rich young ruler was invited by Christ to be His disciple, but he rejected Jesus’ invitation. And the last we heard of him was that he walked away holding on to his earthly wealth and abandoning Jesus’ offer of eternal life. His wealth kept him from entering the kingdom of God.

Jesus shattered the disciples erroneous worldview:

Jesus points out that “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.” What Christ is pointing out here is this. It is impossible for a person who holds onto his wealth like this rich man to make it into the kingdom of God. Or it is difficult for those with wealth to enter the kingdom of God.
There have been various attempts to soften this statement. The most famous is the claim that there was a small gate in Jerusalem known as the needle eye gate. A camel could pass through only by having its baggage removed and then crawling on its knees. There is no reliable evidence for the existence of such gate in Jerusalem.
Why was this shocking to the disciples? Because within the Jewish culture, wealth was seen as a sign of divine favor and blessing. Satan, speaking about Job in 1:10, says to God, “Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flock and herds are spread throughout the land.”
Here, Satan is besmirching the character of Job. He is saying that Job is only faithful to God because of the blessings that God bestowed upon him.
The psalmist writes in 128:1-2, “Blessed are all who fear the Lord, who walk in obedience to Him. You will eat the fruit of your labor. Blessing and prosperity will be yours.” The Jews idea was wrong. Just because a person was wealthy did not mean that they had a great relationship with God and were on their way to eternal bliss.
Popular Jewish morality was simple. It believed that prosperity was the sign of a good man. If a man was rich, God must have honoured and blessed him. Wealth was proof of an excellent character and of favour with God. The psalmist sums it up, ‘I have been young, and now am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread’ ().
Barclay, W. (2001). The New Daily Study Bible: The Gospel of Mark (pp. 286–287). Edinburgh: Saint Andrew Press.Jesus’ statement shattered their erroneous worldview.

Few reasons that makes wealth dangerous:

1. Wealth tends to stop us from embracing the kingdom’s message. In , Jesus speaks about the destructive power of wealth, “…but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things comes in and choke the word, making it unfruitful.” In the Parable of the Sower, wealth choked out the Word of God.
2. Wealth tends to take our focus from our heavenly home and have it fixed on this world. The apostle Paul makes it clear that we are citizens of heaven and not of this world.
3. Wealth can ruin the life of a person. A man who runs into wealth will be proud and will become a god unto himself. Watch the lives of men who have fallen. They tend to fall at the height of their careers when they were making a lot of money. Read the newspapers.
The verb for saved here conveys the sense of spiritual salvation. It is synonymous to inheriting eternal life and entering the kingdom of God.

We too have some erroneous views:

Let me point out some erroneous views we have in our culture.
1. We sometimes think that everyone is going to heaven. Not only those who have a relationship with Christ, but everyone.
We also think that to be a member of a church, you just put your name on the roll, You do not attend, you do not give, and it is alright.
Some of us think that if Jesus was here today, He would be a Republican.
Some believe that they can live any way they want to after they confess Christ. Because once saved is always saved.
Some of these wrong views are lodged into our minds and we think that if others do not espouse to them, they are not good people.
Jesus shocked the disciples by pointing out that it will be difficult

Who then can be saved?

Being shocked by Jesus’ statement, Mark points out that “the disciples were even more amazed, and said to each other, who then can be saved?” If the wealthy cannot make it into heaven, who then can be saved? If the rich could not make it into the kingdom of God then who could be saved? If this man who was the keeper of the commandments since he was a child and was blessed by God with great riches could not get into heaven, then who could be saved?
The verb for saved here conveys the sense of spiritual salvation. It is synonymous with inheriting eternal life and entering the kingdom of God. Jesus looked at them and said, “with man it is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.”

How do we enter the kingdom of God?

How do we enter the kingdom of God?

We read in Mark that if we will follow Christ, we must deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Him. We also heard Jesus pointing out that if we are to enter the kingdom of God, we must be like little children fully depending upon Christ to make it into His kingdom.
Jesus clarified the doctrine of salvation. Salvation does not depend upon a person’s effort, rather it is a gift of God. It is by grace we have been saved through faith and not by works so that no one can boast.
The wealthy will not depend upon their wealth to enter the kingdom of God
It is only God who can bring a person into His kingdom. The reformers talked about the irresistible grace of God. You and I were dead in our sins, alienated from God, and we did not have the power to bring ourselves into a relationship with a holy God. It has to be the work of God. He makes what seemed impossible possible.
This man made a conscious decision that his wealth was more important that the gift of eternal life that Jesus wanted to offer him. His purpose of coming to Christ was to see how he could inherit eternal life but he did not like Jesus’ answer so he walked away.

The response of the disciples (v. 28).

“We have left everything to follow you!”
Peter is drawing a contrast between the rich young ruler and the disciples. Yes, it is true that the disciples left everything to follow Jesus.

Jesus points out the reward for following Him.

Jesus points out that those who have left everything to follow Him, will be rewarded for their sacrifice. “No one who has left home, or brothers, or sisters, or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age.”
Jesus is saying that those who have left everything will be rewarded for their sacrifice in this present age. To leave everything does not mean that they have renounced them but they reordered their priorities. Peter still had his wife years later. You find this in . This present age means, “now,” that is the age between the first and second coming of Jesus.
Those who have left everything will receive a hundred times as much. When you look at the list, these are intimate relationships and items that must be abandoned for the sake of following Christ. Peter and his brother gave up their nets and Matthew gave up his tax collecting business.

The difficulty of becoming a believer in some parts of the world.

Becoming a believer in some part of the world means that a person is severing ties with his immediate family, but entry into the church brings with it a new family far bigger than the one left behind.
When the apostle Paul became a Christian, he probably lost his home and family. But his new spiritually family got bigger because he was blessed with homes and families in Asia Minor and Europe.
In he writes, “Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord and his mother who has been a mother to me too.” She opened her home and cared for Paul as she would care for her own son. When people abandon all to serve Christ, He provides all that they need. Paul wrote in , “My God will supply all your needs...”
In , Paul states, “I appeal to you for my son Onesimus whom i have begotten while in my chains.” Onesimus found a father in Paul. It was Paul who led him to faith. Onesimus is not the only person who found a father in Paul. Timothy (1:12) and Titus (1:4) both became sons to Paul.

Believers will also be persecuted too:

Right in the middle of the blessings of leaving everything to follow Christ is this warning “…and persecution.” His recipients in Rome would have understood what Mark was talking about because they were persecuted for their faith.
This demonstrates that “following Christ is not a utopia. And the Christian faith doesn’t absolve us from hardship. When you look at the lives of men and women who left all to follow Christ, you will also see that their lives are marked by sufferings. The church in Rome understood this.

Their sufferings—and all suffering that results from faithfulness to the gospel—are not a sign of divine abandonment or disfavor, but an inevitable concomitant of faith. Followers of Jesus must be clear that discipleship is not a “both … and,” but an “either … or.” Jesus will have no divided allegiances; he will have all of us or he will not have us at all—so jealous is his love.

, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” We may suffer now for following Christ but the reward for following Christ is unspeakable.

Eternal life:

Believers will be rewarded with eternal life in the age to come. This is what the wealthy young ruler wanted. However, he refused it because he refused to accept Jesus’ invitation. says “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” Believing is not only a mental action, but it must be followed by visible evidence of leaving all for the sake of following Christ.
Edwards, J. R. (2002). The Gospel according to Mark (p. 316). Grand Rapids, MI; Leicester, England: Eerdmans; Apollos.

Believers will have a privilege position in the kingdom:

What does Jesus mean by “the first will be last and the last will be first?” The context can help us. The rich and powerful appeared to be first in this present age. On the other hand, we have the disciples who left everything to follow Jesus. The disciples action will make them first in the kingdom of God or it will make them great. Earthly wealth counts for nothing in God’s kingdom.
A similar concept is found in both and . In Matthew it comes after the parable of the laborers in the vineyard and refers to workers who were hired late in the day but got equal pay. In Luke it follows Jesus’ teaching about the exclusion of the insiders from the Messianic banquet and the inclusion of those from the east, west, north, and south.
There will be a great reversal taking place in God’s kingdom.
What does Jesus mean by “the first will be last and the last will be first?” The context can help us. The rich and powerful appeared to be first in this present age. On the other hand, we have the disciples who left everything to follow Jesus. The disciples action will make them first in the kingdom of God or it will make them great. Earthly wealth counts for nothing in God’s kingdom.
There will be a great reversal taking place in God’s kingdom.

Conclusion:

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