2020-03-15 – Mark 10.17-31 – The Poor Rich Man
Bible Text: Mark 10:17-31 | Preacher: Pastor Jerry Higdon | Series: Mark | 2020-03-15 – Mark 10.17-31 – The Poor Rich Man (National Day of Prayer)
Good morning everyone. It is so nice to be able to spend some time with you all in fellowship with the Lord. Thank you and God bless you for being with us today.
There are many people in the world today that are seeking fulfillment, purpose, happiness, meaning, and love for sure, but sadly they not necessarily seeking God. The world is full of people who want a more satisfying life, a more fulfilling life, and if you throw in heaven all the better, however they feel the solution for their desires must come on their own terms. There are lots of truly selfish seekers in our world, and we are going to discover that same dynamic in our bibles today.
Please turn in your Bibles to Mark 10.17, pew Bibles pg. 897 of God’s Inspired, Infallible and Living Word. But let us first start with Prayer.
This account we are going to read this morning of Jesus’ meeting with a young man is so significant that each of the Gospel writers of Matthew, Mark and Luke records their version of history for this same encounter entitled The Rich Young Ruler. By the world’s standards, most all of us here are considered wealthy. And with that blessing comes much responsibility, and Jesus warns us not to allow our good fortune to become our stumbling stone. Verse 17 reads:
17 As he was setting out on a journey, a man ran up, knelt down before him, and asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”18 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus asked him. “No one is good except God alone. 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 He said to him, “Teacher, I have kept all these from my youth.”21 Looking at him, Jesus loved him and said to him, “You lack one thing: Go, sell all you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” 22 But he was dismayed by this demand, and he went away grieving, because he had many possessions.
Now you should know that this is an actual encounter between this Rich young ruler and Jesus. This is not a parable or a story that Jesus invented. This is a real encounter that deals with such an absolutely critical issue for us to understand. That superficial interest in eternal life must be confronted if we are to have any positive Christian impact on our world. We should not accommodate or entertain selfish seekers. After all, their eternal security is in balance?
Here we learn how to deal with a selfish, shallow seeker who in this case is apparently even claiming to be extremely religious. The central point of this encounter is that proud, selfish people – no matter how much they may say they want eternal life – may not really be prepared to receive it. This young man failed the greatest test of his life. He was offered a choice between his greed and God, between fulfillment in the here and now and fulfillment in the life to come.
The bottom line is he wanted eternal life but not enough to give up his pride and his possessions. Notice he never questioned the truthfulness of what Jesus said. He didn’t debate, he didn’t argue, he just walked away. This rich young ruler realized that whatever Jesus was offering was going to cost him his pride and it was going to cost him his possessions, and the price was too high, even though it regarded his eternal life. I propose that he truly wanted eternal life but only as an add-on to what he already possessed. He loved his mortal comfort and his wealth more than he loved God. The issue here is really about salvation. You see eternal life equals salvation. He asks the question (“what must I do to inherit eternal life?”) and Jesus stopped him dead in his tracks.
Much of the work that we do in sharing the Gospel and carrying out the Great Commission is considered evangelism. In that effort, sometimes we have to convince people that there is such a thing as eternal life. The seed of knowledge of eternal life is kind of planted into us being human. But sometimes we first have remind them that there is an eternal life in heaven and an eternal death in hell. But not this man in our verses here, he already knew about heaven and hell, and he knew he wanted heaven instead of its alternative.
Some would say this man was the ideal seeker, he was ready to talk to Jesus about his eternity with God. One might think that all Jesus needed to do is reel him in, but that is not what Jesus did. The man left out the same way he came in, a sinner not yet willing to do what was necessary for him to receive Christ.
I’m pretty sure he would have prayed a prayer if Jesus had given him one to pray. I’m sure he would have made a decision if Jesus had given him a simple decision to make. But Jesus never gave him a prayer, never asked him to make a decision, never called for a commitment, not at all. He stopped him dead in his tracks. Did Jesus fail in this regard? Did Jesus miss the opportunity that was right there in front of Him? I really don’t think so, so let’s look at the story again.
First see that the man ran up to Jesus and kneel before Him. Now this is very unusual, that’s why Matthew in his account of this says, “Behold,” like “Wow,” you don’t expect this. We also know from Matthew and Luke’s account that he was a young ruler, probably the ruler of a synagogue. He probably wouldn’t be a scribe or a Pharisee, but a very wealthy layman, who had ascended to be a leader in a synagogue, which was usually reserved for an older man, somebody wiser, somebody who had lived longer. We know he’s rich because the other gospels tell us, and he probably felt his life is exactly where he wanted it to be at this time. He’s beaten the odds. He’s young and he’s wealthy, he owns a lot of property, and he has achieved spiritual respect and status by being made the chief of a synagogue. We can assume that he’s a moral and respectable man, and yet there is in his heart a deep fear that he does not possess what he needs most and that is salvation, eternal life, the hope of heaven.
Now let’s look at what he says? “Good teacher.” He acknowledges Jesus as not only a legitimate teacher, but as a good teacher. The word he used is agathos which means good internally, virtuous, or good to the core, a deep kind of inherent goodness. “Good teacher, what shall I do?” In Matthew 19:20, it says that he asked “What am I lacking?” Which is if to say, “I’ve climbed the religious ladder to the top rung. What did I leave out?” He is afraid and realized that he doesn’t have a relationship with God that could be defined as an eternal life.
So he comes and presents his request to Jesus, but then in verse 17 it says he uses the adjective of “good” and that’s when things start to go awry. You know, if there’s any word that the world doesn’t really understand from a biblical stance, it’s that word, Good. Just stop most anybody on the street and say, “Are you a good person?” What are they going to say? “Of course, I’m a good person.”
The man uses the word “good” really loosely, and it immediately gets Jesus’s attention. He doesn’t know that Jesus is God, he just knows He’s a teacher, and by virtue of what He has taught and what He has done and the reputation of Jesus, he’s convinced like everybody else was that Jesus was a teacher sent from God and, therefore, “good” obviously must apply to him. Also remember, he thought of himself as being good as well, and probably that the people he associated with good. So he’s just a little loose with that word, and he thinks he’s commending Jesus by using that word for Him as well, and that’s the problem.
Before we look at Jesus’s answer, let me ask, how would you answer the question? If somebody came up to you running, slid, knelt, and said, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” If you were on the top of your game, you probably would jump straight to the gospel and say something like “believe in Jesus.” Isn’t that the way you would normally answer the question? And in that you would be correct. All throughout the New Testament we see that if you “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ” as your Savior and Lord then you will have eternal life. Well, Jesus didn’t just say that in this case though did He. He didn’t say that because He knew that there was something else that had to be confronted here first. The man’s faith and repentance.
In last weeks message we talked about how Jesus smartly and frequently answered a question with a question. Again he employs that tactic here. Jesus asks him, “Why do you call me good?” Why are you throwing that word around? You don’t know me. I am a total stranger. “No one is good except God alone.”
The issue here is to challenge the sinner’s sense of goodness. Before we can talk about the gospel, before we can talk about salvation and eternal life, people must understand clearly that they are truly not good. Being that he was a Jewish religious leader, he should have known that that the Psalms say “There is none righteous, no not one.” That idea is also conveyed later by Paul in Romans 3, where he adds, “therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin”. The purpose of the law is to crush our prideful self, and to show how perfectly good God is and how utterly evil man is in comparison, so therefore we might recognize our desperate need for a Savior.
Effectively Jesus said, “No one is good except God alone”. I’ll give you a test. You say you know the commandments, and keep the commandments.” And Jesus gives him some examples. “Do not murder. Do not commit adultery. Do not steal. Do not bear false witness. Do not defraud. Honor your father and mother.” By the way, all of those except one is taken from Exodus chapter 20, the Ten Commandments. And in his response “He said to Him, ‘Teacher, I’ve kept all these things from my youth.’” Wow, I know I couldn’t make that claim could you? In reality, nobody but Jesus is perfectly sinless. This young man obviously didn’t understand the depth of the law like God intends.
My favorite verse in this, is verse 21 where it says “Looking at him, Jesus loved him” Isn’t that amazing. Then Jesus told him, “You lack one thing: Go, sell all you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” But he was dismayed by this demand, and he went away grieving, because he had many possessions.
Jesus knew that this young man valued his possessions more than he did Father God. Jesus wanted him to get rid of his idols, get rid of what had formed to be a wedge between him and God. His Earthly wealth and temporal satisfaction had become his God. And sadly it proved to be true, and he couldn’t bring himself to do that, so sadly he just walked away.
Then our last verses continue at 23:
23 Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” 24 The disciples were astonished at his words. Again Jesus 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 person to enter the kingdom of God.” 26 They were even more astonished, saying to one another, “Then who can be saved?” 27 Looking at them, Jesus said, “With man it is impossible, but not with God, because all things are possible with God.” 28 Peter began to tell him, “Look, we have left everything and followed you.”29 “Truly I tell you,” Jesus said, “there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for my sake and for the sake of the gospel, 30 who will not receive a hundred times more, now at this time —houses, brothers and sisters, mothers and children, and fields, with persecutions —and eternal life in the age to come. 31 But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”
Please note, this is not a message or command that infers that money is the root of all evil, but that the love of money is the root of all evil. We can read this in
1 Timothy. 6:6-10 [SLIDE]
But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out. If we have food and clothing, we will be content with these. But those who want to be rich fall into temptation, a trap, and many foolish and harmful desires, which plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and by craving it, some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
1 Timothy 6:17-19 [SLIDE]
Instruct those who are rich in the present age not to be arrogant or to set their hope on the uncertainty of wealth, but on God, who richly provides us with all things to enjoy. Instruct them to do what is good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and willing to share, storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of what is truly life..
So the conclusion of this message today is this:
It is more important to amass your treasures in heaven then the here and now. Don’t be like this ‘Rich Young Ruler’. Recognize what is truly important, and if you are blessed with riches here, then God expects that you will use that to bless others and further His efforts to save the lost for eternity.
Secondly, don’t let anything come between you and the Lord. So many people today are so caught up in their prideful and sinful life that they, like the young ruler, just choose to walk away. That should hurt your heart enough that like Jesus, you care enough to confront them about it, so that it might be the conversation that causes them to consider.
Finally, as we are now in this time of panic and time of struggle, let us show that we have our security in heaven, and that makes all the difference. That we have no reason to fear because God is in control. And as you go out into the world, show His peace and be a blessing to those that God puts in your path. Be caring and generous, be compassionate and confident. Use this rare opportunity to shine a light in some small way on this darkened world. That is God’s will for you this day.
Would you please stand and pray with me now.
Father, this is why we’re here to worship today, because of the glory of Your precious Gospel. Confirm it to our hearts Lord, as we pray this in Jesus Christ’s Holy name, amen.