Faithlife Sermons

HG122-124 Matthew 19:1-30, Mark 10:1-31, Luke 18:15-30

Harmony of the Gospels  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  24:50
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Mark 10:1–31 NKJV
1 Then He arose from there and came to the region of Judea by the other side of the Jordan. And multitudes gathered to Him again, and as He was accustomed, He taught them again. 2 The Pharisees came and asked Him, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” testing Him. 3 And He answered and said to them, “What did Moses command you?” 4 They said, “Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce, and to dismiss her.” 5 And Jesus answered and said to them, “Because of the hardness of your heart he wrote you this precept. 6 But from the beginning of the creation, God ‘made them male and female.’ 7 ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, 8 and the two shall become one flesh’; so then they are no longer two, but one flesh. 9 Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.” 10 In the house His disciples also asked Him again about the same matter. 11 So He said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her. 12 And if a woman divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.” 13 Then they brought little children to Him, that He might touch them; but the disciples rebuked those who brought them. 14 But when Jesus saw it, He was greatly displeased and said to them, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. 15 Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.” 16 And He took them up in His arms, laid His hands on them, and blessed them. 17 Now as He was going out on the road, one came running, knelt before Him, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?” 18 So Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. 19 You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery,’ ‘Do not murder,’ ‘Do not steal,’ ‘Do not bear false witness,’ ‘Do not defraud,’ ‘Honor your father and your mother.’ ” 20 And he answered and said to Him, “Teacher, all these things I have kept from my youth.” 21 Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me.” 22 But he was sad at this word, and went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. 23 Then Jesus looked around and said to His disciples, “How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!” 24 And the disciples were astonished at His words. But Jesus answered again and said to them, “Children, how hard it is for those who trust in riches 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 man to enter the kingdom of God.” 26 And they were greatly astonished, saying among themselves, “Who then can be saved?” 27 But Jesus looked at them and said, “With men it is impossible, but not with God; for with God all things are possible.” 28 Then Peter began to say to Him, “See, we have left all and followed You.” 29 So Jesus answered and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My sake and the gospel’s, 30 who shall 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.”
If you a details person you will have noticed that I made a mistake in the Church magazine as I had Mark 10:1-21 which would leave you part way through a passage. It should be to verse 31 not 21.
Judith has read a rather long passage to us today so I will not be looking so closely at all the detail especially of the first 12 verses concerning divorce as I will God willing, be returning to it next year. But what I will say is this: Divorce is so very easy today and it would appear that it was quite easy in Jesus’ day too.
When a man and a woman come together in marriage they become one. Notice the man and woman bit, not a man and a man or a woman and a woman, nor a man and a woman and another woman. And also note that only two genders are mentioned here; male and female. God designed it that a man and a woman will live together until the death of one of them.
Jesus also gives us clearly two reasons as to why divorce and maybe remarriage may be permissible in this passage and in others and another reason I have also added that is normally accepted but may not be agreed to by all:

First, when one’s mate is guilty of sexual immorality and is unwilling to repent and live faithfully with the marriage partner, divorce and remarriage are permissible. Second, when a believer is deserted by an unbelieving spouse, divorce and remarriage are again permitted. And third, as an extension of the allowance for divorce and remarriage when deserted by an unbeliever, I personally believe that remariage is permissible for those who have been married and divorced before coming to Christ.

Otherwise being with another man or woman even when divorced is adultery. And that puts a whole load of people right into this category that were not even aware of it. It also raises pastoral questions about what they should now do especially if remarried. But this is not for today’s sermon! Jesus is making it clear what it should have been like not the present reality. Jesus’ morality is absolutely perfect and puts the rest of us in the same sin bin.
13-16
Following on from marriage normally comes children and it so happens that in this passage we have parents bringing their children to Jesus.
In the Roman Empire children were a non-entity. Sometimes they were looked after but oftentimes they were not. More protection was offered by their fathers if the child born was male:
a papyrus letter written by a man named Hilarion to his expectant wife, Alis, dated June 17, 1 B.C., instructs her: “if it was a male child let it [live]; if it was female, cast it out.”
It took until the 4th Century to be outlawed in the Roman Empire though barely enforced.
And here we are in the 21st Century with all the debate about abortion especially in the States there is now talk of infanticide if a child has been born when the abortion method did not work.
But in the Hebrew culture then as now children were considered a blessing and a gift from God.
In this passage we have parents with their wonderful quiet and peaceful children standing in line to see Jesus. Yeah, right! The noise would have disturbed everything and the disciples were thinking to protect Jesus from this cacophony except they had completely misjudged the situation. Spending nearly three years with Jesus had not taught them His attitude about children and Jesus was angry not with the children and their parents but with the disciples.
Jesus takes them up in his arms and embraces them and children who know they are loved love in return. He treated the children as people. Children can come to Christ at any age and we should not prevent them.
When we look at the age of when people became Christians the vast majority did so by their teenage years - well over 80%. The older we become the harder our hearts are against the gospel and as we go up the age brackets the fewer become Christians. One estimate is that at 35 years old one in 50,000 will become Christians, at 55, one in 300,000 and at 75 one in 700,000. Children are very important when it comes to preaching the Gospel.
Preaching the Word: Mark—Jesus, Servant and Savior Our Lord’s Elevation of Children (v. 14)

D. L. Moody once returned from a meeting and reported two and a half conversions. “Two adults and a child, I suppose?” asked his host. “No,” said Moody, “two children and an adult. The children gave their whole lives. The adult had only half of his left to give.”

When Jesus says we are to come like little children what does Jesus have in mind?
Some have suggested their innocence or their simple belief. This cannot be for this is not true of all children. So, what is true of every child? Their complete and utter dependence upon others for they are all helpless.
This is the lesson we all have to learn if we would enter the Kingdom of God: complete and utter dependence upon God:
Preaching the Word: Mark—Jesus, Servant and Savior Our Lord’s Elevation of Children’s Faith (v. 15)

Nothing in my hand I bring,

Simply to Thy cross I cling;

Naked, come to Thee for dress:

Helpless, look to Thee for grace.

17-31
If we are to come to the Kingdom of God with such dependence then we are about to find someone who is the complete opposite. Here was a self-made man. He was young, rich and powerful. He as an aggressive, self-assured man who went after what he wanted.
Plainly, from early in his life he was one who ran towards his goals, a real go-getter or in today’s parlance ‘proactive’. What is interesting about this man was that though he already achieved all that he had set his mind on to do and get there was something in him that said that something was missing, what some have termed as a God-shaped hole. It was what Solomon said in Ecc 3:11, God has put eternity in their hearts. There was a longing for spiritual satisfaction that was alluding him and the assurance of eternal life.
He had heard about Jesus and that he had been teaching about eternal life and he thought that this was something else he could run towards and achieve. Don’t get me wrong he is absolutely genuine about his goal and knew that he had not quite made it for some reason and thought Jesus would know for sure the answer he needed so that he could get right on and do whatever was needed. And so he asks the question that resonated with those around and ever since:
Good teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?
This reminds me of C.S.Lewis who said in trying to prevent people from saying:
I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse.
Why do you call me good? There is none good except God. Do you not know what you are saying? By calling me good you are calling me God?
He was trying to elevate the man’s thinking that Jesus IS God.
No one else is actually good.
Romans 3:23 NKJV
23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
We are born in sin. And
Psalm 14:3 NKJV
3 They have all turned aside, They have together become corrupt; There is none who does good, No, not one.
Then the crux of his question, what is it that I need to do is also a fallacy. He assumes that to be good is something that can be achieved and that Jesus has just knocked that on the head for only God is good. It is not about something he can do by effort. Eternal life cannot be earned.
The young man thought it was something he had to do, what one thing must I do to get to Heaven. And that’s a problem. Because it is not about what we must do but it is about a change of heart and of trust in Jesus.
So when Jesus talked of the commands and listed several of them the man’s self-assurance abounded. Yes, I’ve done these. Do I now have eternal life?
Jesus loved this man, locked eyes with him and spoke the most loving words this man would ever hear, the key to eternal life, words of mercy.
Mark 10:21 NKJV
21 Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me.”
Boom! The man’s expectant face dropped to sheer despondency. An uncompromising challenge which took him completely unawares. And it was one of the commands that Jesus did not mention was one is relation to God Himself:
“You shall have no other gods before me.”
He had made an idol of his possessions.
If you would be perfect, mature and not lacking he said to the young rich ruler. But at the very beginning Jesus said that there is only one who is good. This means that even if he had been willing there would still have been something that held onto imperfection. Not only was he to give all that he had to the poor he was then to follow Jesus by taking up his cross. It is not about what he has to do so much as it is about whom He must follow.
He had to weigh up there in then what value he put on eternal life compared with having things in the here and now. He had to weigh up the cost. Everything was to be sacrificed including all that he had achieved. Eternal life cannot be bought but it costs everything. This man was a materialist and it prevented him from having the dependency that children have from entering the Kingdom of God. To come to Jesus means we have to put away self, to put away anything that gets in the way of allowing God to be God in our lives.
Amy Carmichael, a missionary to India, said that as she sat in the palace of a Hindu queen she revealed her spiritual hunger. Having pressed Amy about what was necessary for salvation and not wanting to tell her without preparing the ground more but the queen was insistent saying: “I must know it now”. So Amy told her the true cost of following Jesus and, like the rich young ruler, her face fell and said: “So far must I follow, so far. I cannot follow so far”.
During the time Jesus spoke with the man he got His full attention. But the man, like the queen, turned down the opportunity. Dante called this “The Great Refusal”.
Jesus immediately returned his gaze back to the disciples. Jesus then turns on its head the thoughts that riches are thought to be a blessing of God and a sign of great spirituality. In fact, it is impossible for a rich man to enter. This was a shock that comes down even to this day especially among the so called Word of Faith and Name and it claim it subgroups of Christianity that prevail so much on God TV channels including TBN. Being rich or giving in order to gain riches and blessings is not biblical and is instead coveting and raising gods in the place of the Living God. Spirituality is not found among those who pray, fast and give for only the rich can do this, the poor can pray but they cannot fast or give.
Hear what Jesus says as a warning to the Church of Laodicea:
Revelation 3:17 NKJV
17 Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked—
But this is not a call to give up all wealth for we have some obviously rich people in the bible who were godly, be it Abraham, Job or Joseph of Arimathea. We have a right to enjoy all that God has given to us. But riches are not the goal of life. God is our goal.
We have to be careful if we have riches, and in the UK the vast majority are rich in comparison with the rest of the world, even those who we class as poor here. Wealth perverts us if we allow it. And the more we tend to want the less we want of eternity. As Samuel Johnson said it makes it difficult to die. We attach more value to materialism than to eternal life.
The upshot of all this is that we cannot enter Heaven by anything we do but only by being saved by faith and being given eternal life. We must come with complete dependence upon God. That is why Jesus was sent to save us for we are utterly helpless.
For those who count the cost of following Jesus and do so find that nothing has been lost. They have actually gained everything.

Benediction

Romans 8:38–39 NKJV
38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Bibliography

Blum, E. A., & Wax, T. (Eds.). (2017). CSB Study Bible: Notes. Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.
Hughes, R. K. (1989). Mark: Jesus, servant and savior. Westchester, IL: Crossway Books.
McKenna, D. L., & Ogilvie, L. J. (1982). Mark (Vol. 25). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc.
Exported from Logos Bible Software, 18:26 23 March 2019.
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