Faithlife Sermons

Mark 10c

Sermon  •  Submitted
0 ratings
· 1 view
Notes & Transcripts
Sermon Tone Analysis
A
D
F
J
S
Emotion
A
C
T
Language
O
C
E
A
E
Social
View more →

Mark 10:17-18… And as Jesus was setting out on a journey, a man ran up to Him and knelt before Him, and began asking Him, “Good Teacher, what shall 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.”

In Luke 18:18 the man in Mark 10:17 is called a “ruler” (likely a synagogue ruler). Matthew 19:20 calls him “young” (19:20), and in all the Gospels he is wealthy. Given the context of the previous passage about entering God’s kingdom “as a child” this man serves as an example of those who refuse to enter “as a child” (not in their age per se but in their mindset). The question he asked Jesus does reveal some childlike humility and a healthy respect for Jesus as an authoritative rabbi, but that’s where it stopped, far short of seeing him as God’s Son.

The young man “ran” up to Jesus, and v. 17 says that he knelt down before him. His actions reveal that his question is not one to trap Jesus as the scribes and Pharisees had done and were doing, but one of sincerity. He truly wanted Jesus’ advice as to how to attain eternal life.

The young man addressed Jesus as “good teacher.” How “good” did the man think Jesus actually was? Like many folks today who view Jesus as a “good” man, prophet, and/or teacher the adjective the young man uses in relation to God is actually quite insulting if used by itself, but it basically shows that  he man did not realize that Jesus was in fact God Almighty. Clearly Jesus is more than just “good.” All who fail to understand Jesus as God and only view him as good miss the boat entirely. “Good” to this rich young ruler was likely a simple reference to Jesus’ character and ability to teach. He simply wanted a wise man to answer his question about eternal life, and he had heard that Jesus was a wise man. The question he asked is a question that most humans ponder – the question of eternal life. The man wanted to live forever with God. He had come to the point in his life where he was seeking something, but later it becomes evident that he wasn’t seeking the truth – only the answer he wanted to hear.

One might surmise that the rich young man was a hot prospect for evangelizing. In v. 18, however, Jesus, instead of seizing the opportunity to instruct him as to the way of eternal life, seems to have been stalling. Why didn’t Jesus just save him right then and there with the truth? It seems quite clear that Jesus knew what the man was actually pursuing. He wanted fire insurance, as it were – some encouragement from a good teacher that when he died he was going to die good enough to attain eternal life in heaven. He wanted to know what else he needed to do to get eternal life – to make sure all of his “i’s” were dotted and all of his “t’s” were crossed. He lived a life of luxury and prominence, but he wanted to make sure he was in the clear for eternity.

Jesus seems to have been evaluating the man’s heart in his response. Since no one is truly good except God Himself, the man should have kept his designation for God alone and recognized that it was God with whom he was speaking. No one is good enough to be called good. Calling anyone “good” is a misnomer, for “No one is good; not even one” (Rom. 3:9-10).

Food for Thought

            Many folks are said to be “seeking” God, but the Bible says that pagans don’t seek God (Rom. 3:11). Those, like the man in Mark 10, who seek eternal life seek something, but they’re not prepared for the Truth unless God first draws them to Christ (John 6:44). We have to come to Christ “as a child” – as one who receives Christ by faith without demanding man-made proofs that our eyes must see to believe. So remember how Jesus handled such questions from “seekers” – he sought to see their childlike hearts. We can’t assume that someone seeking God is truly open to His answers, for many are simply wanting their works-centered righteousness to be justification eternal life. But good works apart from faith in Christ never bring salvation.

Mark 10:19-20… [Jesus’ response to the young ruler’s question about how he could attain eternal life] 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, I have kept all these things from my youth up.”

Jesus’ response is peculiar and would be considered a great faux pa by many evangelism teachers today if one of their students did such. But Jesus’ response to the man would have been very familiar to a synagogue ruler who could quote the Mosaic Law – passages like Leviticus 18:5, “So you shall keep my statutes and judgments, by which a man may live if he does them; I am the Lord” (cf. Ezek. 20:11). In saying this Jesus was telling him that he wasn’t teaching anything different than that which Moses had taught in the Law. The man knew the Law and could quote it, so it seems strange that he would ask Jesus what he was lacking for eternal life.

On the surface it might appear that Jesus was teaching works-righteousness doctrine by telling the man to obey the commandments so as to have eternal life. But he had already determined that the man was not ready to believe in him when he questioned him as to why he called him “good.” So he used the whole scenario as a way to expose the man’s hindrance to true belief. He wasn’t ready to believe, just like many today who express great interest but are no where near ready to follow Christ as their Lord. Many just want a savior for fire insurance.

The commandments that Christ quotes to the man in v. 19 are commandments 6-9, then number five in that order (cf. Exodus 20:1-17). He omits commandments 1-4 (“No other gods before Me, no graven images, not taking God’s name in vain, and keeping the Sabbath). The first four deal with man’s attitude toward God while the latter six speak of man’s relationship to others. But Jesus only quoted the man-toward-man commandments – the ones that can be evaluated by others. They are much easier to evaluate by the outside world than those that deal with attitudes toward God. Then Jesus added a command not found in the Ten Commandments, namely “Do not defraud.” This one might be one and the same as “Do not covet your neighbor’s wife,” but it is more likely a commentary on “do not lie” and/or “do not steal” – a common practice for those that were rich who often took advantage of the poor (cf. James 5:1-6).

The man’s response in v. 20 to Jesus’ command to obey the commandments is horrifying. He begins by addressing Jesus this time simply as “teacher” without the “good” revealing that he never did view Jesus as God. But he also reveals the fact that he has lied to himself in thinking that he has in fact kept the commandments. It’s clear that he actually felt like he was a good person and had done his duty in keeping all of God’s commands. But the man failed to consider that he was a sinner and that the commandments were designed to reveal that to him – “for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin” (Rom. 3:20). No wonder Jesus turned him away as he did and let him go home without pursuing him. He wasn’t truly seeking God after all.

Food for Thought

There are many today who resemble this man. They raise their hand for salvation, fill out a card, walk to the front of the church during an altar call, “pray the prayer” (whatever that may be), and make verbal decisions for Christ. But in the process they are duped into thinking they’ve been converted to Christ and have eternal life secured for them as a result. Too often, however, this isn’t the case. Jesus did not come to bring us a good feeling and relieve our frustrations per se. These things are not evidence of salvation at all. The young man wanted this too, but Jesus wouldn’t give it to him. Instead he strove to make the man humble and repentant over his sins of arrogance and pride. Unfortunately, the man was too self-righteous and blind to see the truth.

Mark 10:21-22… And looking at him, Jesus loved him, and said to him, “One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess, and give to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” 22 But at these words his face fell, and he went away grieved, for he was one who owned much property.

Commentary

Verse 21 is literally rendered, “But Jesus, having looked upon him, loved him and said to him…” Some translations render the passage, “And Jesus felt a love for him…” This rendering does not follow the original Greek, and it relegates Christ’s love to a feeling. Jesus, however, didn’t merely “feel” love for this man – he loved him as a verb. Furthermore, the verb is a past tense verb, so it can’t be that Jesus “was loving him.” The way Jesus loved this man was with his heart, and he put that love into motion, namely with sound instruction – another past tense verb (“and said”). Simply put, Jesus’ love for the man wasn’t a sentimental feeling, it was action in the form of instruction – instruction that was meant to change the man’s life and behavior. In v. 21 the instruction was for the man to specifically go and sell all of his possessions and give the money to the poor. True love from Christ comes by teaching the truth – not a feeling but an action. Jesus had enough compassion for the man, after hearing his horrifying response to being obedient to the commandments, to teach him the real truth and lead him to eternal life with it.

Though Jesus tells the man that he only lacked “one” thing for eternal life, it sure seems evident that he lacked more than that. But really all the man lacked was a true heart for God. He wanted God AND money/possessions. He refused to give up the latter to gain the former. But when one is willing to give everything up for God truly that person has the one key to salvation: the willingness to submit to Christ’s lordship no matter what the cost. The man was far more concerned, however, with riches on earth. His quest for eternal life was something he only wanted to add to what he already had, namely great riches. His unwillingness to give everything up, however, proved that he had not kept the commandments, for his god was his money, and his money had become an idol, thus breaking the first two commandments.

Verse 22 is the man’s response to Jesus’ commission to him. It literally reads, “But appalled at these words he went away being grieved, for he had much property.” Property owners were known to be very wealthy in that day. The man came with great anticipation and excitement, but after hearing what it really took to have eternal life with God he went away appalled and grieved. If Jesus’ words were really true then he knew he couldn’t have it. He was appalled and grieved to think that he would have to depart with his first love, money.

Note how Jesus didn’t run after this man and try to bring him into his fold for his money to further the ministry or his “potential” for salvation. He fed him the truth and let God’s elective purpose run its course. This man was given the truth, but he rejected it. This is in stark contrast to Zacchaeus, the rich crook who did in fact repent upon hearing the truth (cf. Luke 19:1-10).

Food for Thought

Do you know someone like this young man? He was self-assured and full of self-admiration for his wealth and accomplishments. He viewed eternal life as another hurdle to jump so as to add it to his many achievements and cover all areas of doubt. Jesus, however, likened eternal life with God with a valuable pearl. When a man found it he sold everything he had to purchase it (Matt. 13:45-46). Eternal life with God requires sacrifice. It’s not that God wants everyone to give up their riches, but He does require that we be willing to do so. When we hold on too tightly to riches, children, or anything else we put it before God and become idolatrous.

Mark 10:23-25… Jesus, looking around, said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!” 24 And the disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus answered again and said to them, “Children, how hard it is 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.”

Commentary

As the man walked away rejecting Christ’s answer as to how one can receive eternal life Jesus looked back at each of his disciples. The text says that he was “looking around” at them. He had come across a teachable moment for each of them, and as he looked into their confused eyes about what had just transpired he laid the boom on them with a new lesson about riches. He tells them plainly that rich people will have a very difficult time entering God’s kingdom – the eternal sphere of God’s rule. It’s already a difficult process of turning one’s life over to Christ, and the “narrow way” that few people find (Matt. 7:13-14) proves that not many find it, but it’s all the more difficult for the rich to enter. Proverbs 18:11 says as much: “The wealth of the rich is their fortified city; in their minds it is an un-scalable wall.”

Verse 23 plainly says that it is “hard” for the wealthy to enter the kingdom of God. Wealthy people, generally speaking, place a lot of faith in their riches taking great comfort in it. They can talk to people more harshly, treat them with contempt, and are generally very used to getting their way because of their influential standing in society. They don’t need people like the poor do, and they don’t have to care what anyone thinks of them. So, to give that up is to give up the luxury their wealth affords them – something that many people strive their whole lives to attain. This is why Jesus says that it’s “hard” for the rich to enter the kingdom of heaven.

Verse 24 says that the disciples were “amazed” at Jesus’ words. Their amazement denotes that they too were taken aback by Jesus’ comments. They thought that the rich entered the Kingdom before anyone else because their riches afforded them better sacrifices and larger gifts to the temple – gifts and sacrifices they were sure God was most pleased with. Their piety and large giving, and the influence it brought them, caused them to be revered by most Jews. The rabbis had taught for many centuries that it was a great virtue to accumulate wealth, and that it was unwise to ever give away more than one-fifth of what they owned. Now Jesus was telling the rich man to give it ALL up. This startled and confused the disciples. So upon seeing the their astonishment Jesus repeated himself calling the men “children” to denote their spiritual immaturity in thought. He also added that it’s not just hard for rich people to enter God’s kingdom but that it is impossible for anyone to do so without God’s intervention. It’s as difficult to enter God’s kingdom as it would be for a camel to go through the eye of a needle.

The gate in Jerusalem today known as “The Needle’s Eye” was built during the middle ages and was not in existence in Jesus’ day. Some have proposed that the “eye of the needle” was a hole under the wall in Jerusalem that camels could crawl under. There is absolutely no evidence that this was ever so, and if it were then it would cause the disciples’ reaction to mean nothing. It would also make salvation attainable by man, an impossible task indeed without God.

Food for Thought

            Contrary to what many believe, salvation in Christ alone isn’t easy. You can’t just talk people into believing. Even Jesus failed to do so! Salvation just doesn’t come via good works, but good works meant to glorify Christ signify that salvation is true of those who profess such. In the end salvation in Christ alone is a miracle, and it’s for those whom God seeks, not those who seek Him – for no one seeks after God. And because it’s all God’s work, all glory is due Him.

Mark 10:26-27… And they were even more astonished and said to themselves, “Then who can be saved?” 27 Looking upon them, Jesus said, “With men [salvation] is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God.”

Commentary

Because Jesus’ disciples had been taught that the rich were blessed more so than the poor and that the rich were the “spiritual elite” they were dumbfounded when Jesus told them that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God (10:25). Verse 26 literally says, “And they were exceedingly greatly astounded…” The disciples could not believe what they were hearing! It blew their theology out of the water, and all they could ask was, “Then who can be saved”? THIS was the point Jesus was moving towards – to teach his true disciples about salvation as opposed to converting the young ruler who merely thought he wanted to be instructed by God’s truth. The young ruler looked as if he was the focus of a lesson in presenting the gospel, but Jesus turned him away and taught the real truth to the disciples. He used a teachable moment, and it became a turning point for them.

The reaction of the disciples was something like, “Did we hear him right”? And his repetition of what he said in v. 24 would go something like, “Yea, you heard correctly! Contrary to what you’ve been led to believe (that good and influential people inherit eternal life before anyone else) it is actually IMPOSSIBLE for anyone to attain eternal life on their own – as impossible as it is for a camel to pass through the hole of a needle!” But what Jesus was really wanting to press is found in v. 27, namely that though salvation is impossible with man it is possible with God. For with God “all things are possible.”

It’s noteworthy that the disciples did not speak their confusion to Jesus but asked one another what Jesus was talking about. Like many church folks today they were content to work the matter out among themselves as opposed to asking Jesus to clarify. Many people hear something the pastor taught about on a particular occasion, but instead of asking him for clarification they are content to discuss the matter among themselves and fall further into confusion. But Jesus perceived their thoughts and heard their words, so he answered, and the text says that he was “looking at them.” This is emphatic in Greek text. It’s as if Jesus waited precisely for that moment so that he could look intently into each of their eyes and make his point. Entering into God’s eternal kingdom is not only difficult, it is impossible for man to achieve on his own terms and by his own striving. As Dr. John MacArthur has rightly stated, “In one simple declaration, Jesus utterly destroyed the current perspective in the religion of Israel and, at the same time, all hope in works-righteousness.” No matter what man accomplishes through education, technology, medicine, philanthropy, philosophy, or even theology he is still utterly sinful in God’s sight, totally depraved, and completely reliant upon God’s grace for salvation – the very thing Jesus told his disciples was in fact “possible” only with God in v. 27.

Food for Thought

Salvation comes from God alone (Ps. 3:8; Jonah 2:9), and no one comes to Christ unless the Father draws that person to Him (John 6:44). Only in this way can a person be saved. Prior to one’s salvation they are spiritually dead, and just as a physically dead person can do nothing, neither can a spiritually dead person make a spiritual decision. God is the one who makes the spiritually dead person alive. He saves people by His grace, through their faith in Jesus Christ, and leads them to bear fruit through good works (Eph. 2:1-10). All of this is the sole work of God. No one is spiritual enough on their own to gain eternal life. It’s all God’s work. All of it.

Mark 10:28-30… Peter said to Him, “Behold, 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 farms, for My sake and for the gospel’s sake, 30 but that he shall receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions; and in the age to come, eternal life.”

Commentary

After watching Jesus send the rich young ruler away frustrated because he wasn’t willing to give up his riches in favor of eternal life, Peter speaks up. His comment in v. 28 is an attempt on his part to make sure that the sacrifices he and the other disciples had made in order to follow Christ had not gone unnoticed by Jesus. Peter’s statement of his and the other disciples’ sacrifices to follow Christ reveal that they had in fact left everything they had (family, friends, and work). They had done exactly what Christ told the rich young ruler to do. One might surmise that it was much easier for them b/c they weren’t wealthy men, but it can be no easier for a poor family man to leave his loved ones than it is a wealthy one. Though most of the family lives of the disciples are unknown it is known that Peter had a wife, Thomas had a twin brother, and James and John had a living father and mother to leave. In addition Matthew left a profitable tax business and James and John left their occupation of fishing.

Jesus confirms in v. 29 that the disciples had indeed left many valuable people and things to follow him. He makes no qualification that leaving anything or anyone is wrong under any other circumstance than for Him and the gospel message of salvation. Family and possessions are to take the back seat to Christ and the gospel. Those who leave their families for Christ’s sake are not in sin but will actually receive great rewards both on earth and in the afterlife. Those with families today are usually not asked to leave them for evangelistic purposes, and most are able to take them with them when they go abroad. But the point here for the disciples is that they had indeed done so. The point for modern day believers is that we must be willing to leave family and work – even die to them – in favor of our love and commitment to Christ.

The irony in v. 30, in comparison to the rich young ruler, is that putting God first through a willingness to forsake all not only gains one eternal life (the very thing he sought) but also gains them 100 times more in the present life – both possessions AND family. Christian family in this context stretches all over the earth. For those who love family there can be no greater way to extend that family than to be willing to leave them for the sake of the gospel of Christ.

But Jesus also adds, in v. 30, that those who are willing to abandon everything for the gospel will also inherit “persecutions” – harassments and oppressions. This is what is supposed to happen to those who make such “foolish” decisions for Christ. For the wisdom of God is folly to mankind. Following Christ brings peace and joy, but it always involves suffering too.

Interestingly, though believers inherit other brothers and sisters and mothers in Christ, the word “father” is omitted in v. 30. They don’t gain spiritual fathers, and this is likely referencing God alone as the new Father to those who are willing to leave their earthly fathers for the gospel.

Food for Thought

Most Christians are never compelled to leave everything they have, but we must all ask ourselves this question: “Are we willing to do so if asked?” Can we, like Peter, look Jesus in the face and say, “We have left everything to follow you?” That is where we must be to be true followers of Christ. If you can’t say that you would give up everything then you are in the same boat as the frustrated young ruler who walked away without having gained eternal life.

Mark 10:17-31… The Impossibility of Wealth to Gain the Kingdom of God

I)            The quest for eternal life (17-22)

A)    Recognize Jesus as God (17-18)

B)    Realize your sin (19)

C)    Be willing to give up everything (20-22)

II)         Wealthy People and the Kingdom (23-27)

A)    Difficulty getting into heaven (23-25)

B)    Money not a sign of piety (26)

C)    Salvation only possible w/God (27)

III)      The True Disciple of Christ (28-31)

A)    Willingness to give up all (28)

B)    Receives back all he gave up and more (29-30)

The point: It’s impossible to attain to the kingdom by works. God’s Kingdom is for those who are willing to give up everything and even suffer – like a child would be willing to do.

Lessons from the Rich Young Ruler (Mark 10:17–31)

  • Only one who came to Jesus and went away worse than when he came.
  • He had desire in his heart for spiritual things (ran to Jesus and bowed down to him)
  • Had warped view of salvation thinking he could work it. So Jesus hit him where it hurt.
  • He thought he could be GOOD and settle his account with the holy God
  • Had a superficial view of Jesus calling him “Good Teacher”
  • Jesus pointed the man to the commandments to reveal his sin.
  • He had a superficial view of the Law believing he could keep it. 
  • Had an unhealthy view of money.
  • Selling everything is not to be applied to all. They were specific to the rich man.
  • The deceitfulness of riches… choked the man’s heart, and he couldn’t be saved (4:19)
  • Jesus’ assurance: those who follow him lose nothing – in this life or the next.
  • The life of a true Christian is filled with joy and peace but also persecutions.

Evangelism 101

  1. Know your audience (Jewish man given the Law)
  2. Know what hindrances trip up that particular audience (i.e., wealth)
  3. Speak the bold truth in love
  4. Deal with the consequences of rejection
  5. Understand why we’re rejected knowing that it’s God who causes the growth (the ones who sow and water are nothing!)
  6. Not every rejection is an eternal one. You may have planted a seed!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mark 10:17-30

Mark 10:17-31, can be divided up into three related sections: (1) the rich man’s question (vv. 17-22); (2) Jesus’ teaching on riches and the kingdom of God (vv. 23-27), and (3) Peter’s statement and Jesus’ answer (vv. 28-31). They are all tied together around the larger theme of the relationship of wealth to the kingdom Jesus had been preaching. The point is that it is impossible to attain to the kingdom by means of riches. The passage as a whole is found in the section 8:27-10:52 in which Mark has been focusing on Jesus’ suffering and true discipleship. In vv. 28-31 Jesus does not deny great rewards to those who follow him, both in the present age and in the age to come, but it must be thoroughly understood that suffering will be integral to the mission of the disciples and the church, for in the very next section (10:32-34) Jesus reaffirmed the truth about his coming rejection, suffering, death and resurrection.

17 And as He was setting out on a journey, a man ran up to Him and knelt before Him, and began asking Him, “Good Teacher, what shall 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.”

  • Luke 18:18 calls the man a “ruler” likely signifying that he was a young synagogue ruler with some influence. His prominence in society in relation to his question shows some humility and a true desire to make up for his own shortcoming of ignorance.
  • Since Jesus and his disciples were setting out one of their journeys apparently the man was rushing to get there before they all left, hence, he ran to Jesus before he left. His urgent question and need compelled him to get a quick answer.
  • When the young man got to Jesus he knelt down out of respect for Jesus. His actions reveal that his question is not one to trap Jesus as others were doing but one of sincerity.
  • How “good” did the man think Jesus actually was? Like many folks today who view Jesus as a “good” man, prophet, and/or teacher this designation is insulting if the adjective stops there. Jesus is far beyond “good” – he is God. All who fail to understand Jesus as God and only view him as “good” miss the boat entirely – as this man did. So it seems clear that “good” to the young man was merely a good man and/or a good teacher.
  • William Hendrickson said, “Life is the active response of one to his environment.” Eternal life, then, is “active response to that which is eternal.” It’s the ability to live and move in the heavenly world. The man’s wealth apparently didn’t give him security.
  • The man wanted eternal life – he wanted to live forever with God. He had come to the point of asking such a question, so why didn’t Jesus just save him? Why did he answer him the way he did? It’s because the man just wanted some “fire insurance,” and he wanted to know what else he needed to do to get eternal life. He wanted to make sure all of his “I’s” were dotted and all of his “t’s” were crossed. He had a good life of luxury and prominence, and he desired to know for sure if he had done enough good works.
  • Instead of seizing the opportunity to instruct the young man to “receive Christ” Jesus appears to stall by asking him why he called him “good.” It’s likely that the man viewed Jesus as one with authority and as one who was clearly a good teacher. But Jesus was looking into the man’s heart to see if he really knew Who he was talking to and whether or not he knew that the “good” teacher was actually God Himself. Since no one is truly good except God Himself the man should have kept his designation for God alone. This answer once again shows that no one does good enough to be called “good.” Our designation of a “good person” is a misnomer. No one is good, no not one (Rom. 3:9-10).

19 [Jesus said] “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, I have kept all these things from my youth up.”

  • Jesus’ response is peculiar and a great faux pa by evangelism standards today. But it would be very familiar to a synagogue ruler. All who knew the Law could quote Lev. 18:5, “So you shall keep my statutes and judgments, by which a man may live if he does them; I am the Lord” (cf. Ezek. 20:11). In saying this Jesus was telling him that he wasn’t teaching anything different. The man knew the Law, so he should just follow it.
  • Not only did Jesus seem to be running the man off, but he also seems to be teaching a righteousness by works doctrine telling him to obey the commandments to get into heaven. But Jesus had already figured out that the man was not ready to believe in him. So he used the whole scenario as a way to expose the man’s hindrance to true belief. He wasn’t ready to believe just like many today who express great interest but are no where near ready to follow Christ as their Lord. Some just want a Savior but are unwilling to follow Christ as their Lord and Master.
  • The commandments that Christ requires here are #’s 6-9 (possibly 10) and 5 in that order. He omits 1-4 (God first, no images, not taking God’s name in vain, and keep the Sabbath). The first four commandments deal with man’s attitude toward God, and these are the most difficult. But Jesus only quoted the man-toward-man commandments, and though these are much easier, they are still impossible to keep. They are much easier to evaluate by the outside world than those that deal with attitudes toward God. They can be judged by man. The “do not defraud” is not a commandment, and although it might be related to “do not covet” it is more likely a commentary on “do not lie” and/or “do not steal” – a common practice for those that were rich then (as it is today).
  • The man’s response is horrible. He reveals the fact that he has lied to himself in thinking that he has kept all the commandments. He actually felt like he was a “good person.” This man failed to consider that he was a sinner and that the commandments were designed to reveal that to him – “through the Law comes the knowledge of sin” (Rom. 3:20). Today there are just too many people who resemble this young ruler. They raise their hand for salvation, fill out a card, walk to the front of the church, “pray the prayer,” and make verbal “decisions” and in the process they are duped into thinking something has happened (conversion) when it hasn’t. Jesus didn’t come to bring us a good feeling and relieve our frustrations. These things are not evidence of salvation at all. The young ruler wanted this too, but Jesus wouldn’t give it to him. Instead he strove to make the man humble and repentant over his sin. But he was too pious to realize he was full of sin.
  • In v. 20 the man drops the word “good” from “teacher.”

21 And looking at him, Jesus loved him, and said to him, “One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess, and give to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” 22 But at these words his face fell, and he went away grieved, for he was one who owned much property.

  • Verse 21 is literally rendered, “But Jesus, having looked upon him, loved him and said to him…” Jesus didn’t “feel” love as some translations say (NAS); he loved him as a verb (NIV, NKJ, KJV, RSV, NRSV). The verb is a past tense verb (aorist), but the way Jesus loved him was with the instruction he gave him – another past tense verb (“and said”) in v. 21, namely to go and sell all of his possessions. True love comes by teaching the truth – not a feeling but an action. Jesus had enough compassion for the man, after hearing his response to the commandments, to teach him the real truth and lead him to eternal life.
  • Though Jesus tells the man that he only lacked “one” thing for eternal life, it sure seems evident that he lacked more than that. But really all the man lacked was a true heart for God. He wanted God AND money/possessions. He would not give up the latter to gain the former. When one is willing to give everything up for God truly that person has the one key to salvation: the willingness to submit to Christ’s lordship. The man was far more concerned, however, with treasure on the earth. His quest for eternal life was something he only wanted to add to what he already had. His unwillingness to give everything up proved that he had not kept the commandments (his god was his money, his money had become an idol, etc.).
  • It’s not that God wants everyone to give up their riches, but He does require that we be willing to do so. When we hold on too tightly to anything we curse God by putting Him second behind all else.
  • Verse 22 literally reads, “But appalled at these words he went away being grieved, for he had many possessions.” The man came with great anticipation and excitement, but after hearing what it really takes to have eternal life with God he went away appalled and grieved because if it was really true he knew he couldn’t have it.
  • Note how Jesus didn’t try to bring the young man into their fold for his money to further the ministry or his “potential” for salvation. He fed him the truth and let God’s elective purposes run its course. This man was not one of the elect, so he didn’t receive the truth.
  • Do you know someone like this young man? He was self-assured, brash, full of self-admiration for his wealth and accomplishments. He viewed eternal life as another mountain to climb so as to add it to his many achievements and cover all areas of doubt.
  • Zacchaeus got it right in Luke 19:1-10.

23 And Jesus, looking around, said to His disciples, “How hard it will be for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God!” 24 And the disciples were amazed at His words. But Jesus answered again and said to them, “Children, how hard it is 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.”

  • As the man walked away rejecting Christ’s answer as to how one can receive eternal life Jesus appears to watch him leave and then looks around at each of his disciples. He’s likely looking around at their reactions to what just transpired.
  • So as to teach his disciples a new lesson he tells them plainly that rich people will have a very difficult time entering God’s kingdom – the eternal sphere of God’s rule. It’s already a difficult process of turning one’s life over the Christ, and the “narrow way” proves that not many find it, but it’s all the more difficult for the rich man to enter because his faith is in his wealth (Prov. 18:11).
  • Though many English translations say that it “will be” difficult for the rich to enter God’s kingdom, the best translations say that “it is” difficult. Wealthy people, generally speaking, place a lot of faith in their wealth and take great comfort in it. They can talk to people more harshly, treat them with contempt, and they are generally very used to getting their way all the time. They don’t need people like the poor do, and they don’t have to care what anyone thinks of them. To give that up is to give up power and wealth – something that humans strive their whole lives to attain. Giving it up is impossible without God.
  • Verse 24 says that the disciples were “amazed” – surprised. Their amazement must denote that they too were taken aback by Jesus’ comments. They thought that the rich entered the Kingdom before anyone else because their riches afforded them better sacrifices and larger gifts to the temple. Their piety and large giving (and the influence it bought them) caused them to be revered by most Jews. The rabbis had taught for many centuries that it was a great virtue to accumulate wealth, and that it was unwise to ever give away more than one fifth of what they owned. Now Jesus was telling the rich man to give it ALL up. This startled and confused the disciples.
  • Seeing the disciples’ astonishment Jesus repeated himself but now addresses the men as “children” to denote their spiritual immaturity in thought. He also omits “wealthy” this time by just revealing that it is generally difficult (impossible) to enter God’s kingdom. It’s so difficult to enter God’s kingdom it would be likened to a camel going through the eye of a needle – an impossible task.
  • The gate in Jerusalem known as “The Needle’s Eye” was built during the middle ages and was not in existence in Jesus’ day. Some have proposed that the “eye of the needle” was a hole under the wall in Jerusalem that camels could crawl under. There is absolutely no evidence that this was ever so, and if it were then it would cause the reaction of the disciples to mean nothing. It would also make salvation attainable by man and fly in the face of the true meaning of the passage.

26 And they were even more astonished and said to themselves, “Then who can be saved?” 27 Looking upon them, Jesus said, “With men it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God.”

  • Literally, “And they were exceedingly greatly astounded…” The disciples could not believe what they were hearing. It blew their theology out of the water, and all they could ask was, “Then who can be saved”? THIS was the point Jesus was moving towards – to teach his true disciples about salvation as opposed to converting the young man. The young man looked as if he was the focus of a lesson in presenting the gospel, but Jesus turned him away and taught the real truth to the disciples. He used a teachable moment.
  • The reaction of the disciples was something like, “Did we hear him right”? And his repetition of what he said in v. 24 would go something like, “Yea, you heard correctly! Contrary to what you’ve been led to believe (that good and influential people inherit eternal life) it is actually IMPOSSIBLE for anyone to attain eternal life on their own – as impossible as it is for a camel to pass through the hole of a needle.” But what is impossible with man is possible with God.”
  • It’s interesting to note that the disciples did not ask Jesus (in the Greek text they asked one another). Like many church folks today they were content to work the matter out among themselves as opposed to asking the One (or pastor) what they meant by what they said. But Jesus perceived their thoughts and heard their words, so he answered.
  • “Looking at them” is emphatic in Greek. It’s as if Jesus waited precisely for that moment so that he could look intently into their eyes and make his point.
  • V. 26 shows that the eternal life the young ruler sought is equivalent with being “saved.”
  • Entering into God’s eternal kingdom is not only difficult, it is impossible for man to achieve on his own terms and by his own striving. As Dr. John MacArthur has rightly stated, “In one simple declaration, Jesus utterly destroyed the current perspective in the religion of Israel and, at the same time, all hope in works-righteousness.”
  • No matter what man accomplishes through education, technology, medicine, philanthropy, philosophy, or even theology he is still utterly sinful in God’s sight, totally depraved, and completely reliant upon God’s grace for salvation – the very thing Jesus told his disciples was in fact “possible” only with God in v. 27.
  • Salvation comes from God alone (Ps. 3:8; Jonah 2:9), and no one comes to Christ unless the Father draws that person to Him (John 6:44). Only in this way can a person be saved. Also Ephesians 2:1-10 proves that salvation belongs only to God.

28 Peter began to say to Him, “Behold, 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 farms, for My sake and for the gospel’s sake, 30 but that he shall receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions; and in the age to come, eternal life.

  • Peter is making sure that their total sacrifice to follow Christ has been noticed by him.
  • Peter’s statement of his and the other disciples’ sacrifices to follow Christ reveal that they had in fact left everything they had (family, friends, and work). Is this something you could look Christ in the eye and say too or at least be willing to do? They had done exactly what Christ told the rich young ruler to do, but it was much easier for them b/c they weren’t rich, although we know that at least Peter had a wife, Thomas a twin brother, and James and John had a living father and mother to leave.
  • Jesus confirms in v. 29 that the disciples had indeed left many valuable people and things to follow him. He makes no qualification that leaving anything or anyone is wrong under any other circumstance than for Him or the gospel message of salvation. Family and possessions are the take the back seat to Christ and the gospel. Those who leave their families for Christ’s sake are not in sin but will actually receive great rewards.
  • Those with families are usually not asked to leave them for evangelistic purposes, and most are able to take them with them. But the point here for the disciples is that they had indeed done so. The point for modern day believers is that we must be willing to leave family and work – even die to them – in favor of our love and commitment to Christ. We must ask ourselves this question… “Am I willing to leave them if Christ asked me to”?
  • The irony in v. 30 in comparison to the rich young ruler is that putting God first through a willingness to forsake all not only gains one eternal life (the very thing he sought) but also gains them 100 times more in the present life – both possessions AND family. Christian family stretches all over the earth. For those who love family there can be no greater way to extend that family than to be willing to leave one’s immediate one. In doing so they will gain more than they ever thought possible.
  • But Jesus also adds that those who are willing to abandon everything for the gospel will also inherit “persecutions” – harassments and oppressions. This is what is supposed to happen to those who make such “foolish” decisions for Christ. For the wisdom of God is folly to mankind.
  • Interestingly the word “father” is omitted in v. 30 likely referencing God alone as the new Father to those who are willing to leave their earthly fathers.
Related Media
Related Sermons