- Awesome Is The Lord Most High
- Hosanna (Praise Is Rising)
- When I Survey The Wondrous Cross (Hamburg)
- IntroductionGood morning and welcome to Dishman Baptist Church. We are so grateful that you would join us this morning as we worship our glorious and majestic Heavenly Father. Please take you Bibles and open them with me to Mark 10, Mark 10. If you are joining us in person or online for the first time please take a moment to fill out our contact card - either in the seat back in front of you or included as a pinned link at the top of the video feed - we would cherish the opportunity to connect with you, to get to know you better and to introduce you to Dishman. We desire to be a church built on the solid foundation of the Word of God and so all that we do and teach is tied up in that and in the desire to present disciples mature in Christ.Speaking of disciples, Mark has been taking us on a bit of a journey through the aspects of discipleship over the course of the last few chapters. He showed us the cost of discipleship, some of the characteristics of discipleship, the ruthless nature that a disciple will adopt toward sins that attempt to encroach on our relationship with our Master. Last time we were together we asked the question what kind of disciple are you - as we looked at the Pharisees appeal to the authority of Moses rather than to the authority of God in the critical arena of the sanctity of marriage. But there is one question that until now Mark has left unanswered - just exactly how do you become a disciple? This morning’s text will provide an answer to that very question - so lets look at our Bibles together. We’ll be reading in Mark 10:17-31As 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?” “Why do you call me good?” Jesus asked him. “No one is good except God alone. 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.” He said to him, “Teacher, I have kept all these from my youth.” 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.” But he was dismayed by this demand, and he went away grieving, because he had many possessions. Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” The disciples were astonished at his words. Again Jesus said to them, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! 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.” They were even more astonished, saying to one another, “Then who can be saved?” Looking at them, Jesus said, “With man it is impossible, but not with God, because all things are possible with God.” Peter began to tell him, “Look, we have left everything and followed you.” “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, 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. But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”This text is a classic text on evangelism and the use of the Law, the Ten Commandments in evangelism. Within these verses Jesus demonstrates the use of the Law to bring a sinner to a knowledge and conviction of sin. And we will see some of that as we progress through the passage - we’re also going to see a few other things as well. This passage moves in five parts - each involving either a comment or reaction by a participant (either the rich young man or the disciples) and then a response by Jesus. We’ll see the right question - sort of, the wrong answer, the wrong response, the real right question and finally the right response.Mark sets the scene for us as Jesus is leaving or setting out on a journey. He was just in a home with His disciples somewhere in the region of Perea, a region on the eastern side of the Jordan River that most Jews would traverse on their way to Jerusalem. Jesus has left Galilee behind and is now on His way to the great center of Jewish religion to fulfill the reason for His coming. Along the way He has been teaching His disciples about His impending death as well as all the facets of discipleship we have already talked about. As He leaves a young man runs up and falls at His feet.Matthew and Luke bring more information to the scandalous nature of this event. Matthew tells us that the man was young. Luke tells us that he was a ruler. All three Synoptic Gospels tell us that he was very wealthy. For this young man to run up to Jesus would have been the epitome of humiliation. We live in a society where people are always running - some for fitness, some for work, some just make it a habit of running late - but it was not so in first century Jewish culture. For a man or woman to run in that society was almost unheard of. In order to run they would have had to raise up their long robes that they wore and expose their legs which was socially unacceptable.Heightening the tension is that this man kneels before Christ. The Pharisees were actively seeking to trap Christ or at the least trying to turn public opinion against Him. Some commentators think that this man was one of the synagogue rulers in the town where they were - much like Jairus before in Galilee who had come to Christ seeking healing for his sick daughter - and here he is kneeling in the dust at Jesus feet. The verb here carries the implication of kneeling in an act of supplication or reverence. This man has something important on his mind and he is unconcerned what others in the town might think of him. He needs the answer to a question.The Right Question - Sort OfAs the dust in settling around Jesus and the man his question comes tumbling out. “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”Boom. There it is. THE QUESTION! I mean this is it. This it the chance, the moment, that we’ve all been waiting for, that Mark’s readers have all been waiting for. It is the question that no one in Galilee, Tyre, Sidon, the Decapolis or Caesarea Philippi had thought to ask and now here it is. There’s a crowd around watching, drawn by the spectacle of the man’s run through town. I couldn’t be an easier setup. It’s on a proverbial T, all Jesus has to do is answer it.Jesus must have stood there for a moment, considering the man. His disciples are waiting with baited breath.Why do you call me good? That’s what you seize on? That he called you good? But answering a question with a question has merit. You see the man had an incorrect view, a misaligned definition of good. This is the only time in the New Testament that Jesus is addressed this way. No where else is He called good teacher - in fact it is completely absent from any first century sources with the exception of this moment and the recounting of a dream in the Talmud but the exaggerated use of good in the rendition of the dream makes drawing a parallel difficult. So why does this man call Jesus good? And why does Jesus continue on with the rest of the statement - No one is good except God alone?Later Paul would write in Romans 3 quoting from various Psalmsas it is written: There is no one righteous, not even one.Now it is important for us to note here that Christ is not intimating that He is not good but instead He is seeking to correct this man’s view of what goodness meant. Christ, being truly God and truly man, could not be anything but good and He is not hinting that He had the same sin nature that this man and the rest of humanity shares.This man, along with much of the rest of Jewish society, had a skewed notion of what good was. Their definition of good was relative, subjective to those around them. It was this definition of “goodness” in view in the parable of the Pharisee and the publican where the Pharisee could stand off and ostentatiously proclaim his own piousness relative to the tax collector standing not far off. In this particular man’s subjective view of good, not only was Jesus good but he was as well. He and Jesus were on the same plane. As we will see in a moment this man had a very high opinion of himself and would thus consider himself to be good.But Jesus didn’t hold to a subjective view of goodness. For Him good was defined objectively and the standard of goodness was the perfect, holy, unimpeachable God. There is no way that we can compare ourselves against that standard and view ourselves as anything other than miserable, wretched people. And yet we live in a day when many people think that is all it takes to get into Heaven - to be a “good” person. And they define it the same as this man here. George Barna’s Barna Group released part 8 of their 2020 American Worldview Inventory entitled “Perceptions of Sin and Salvation” and the findings are disturbing. From the summary “New research shows that unlike past generations, who readily recognized the reality of sin and the need for salvation through Jesus Christ, American adults today increasingly adopt a “salvation-can-be- earned” perspective, with a plurality of adults (48%) believing that if a person is generally good, or does enough good things during their life, they will “earn” a place in Heaven.” Where do you stand this morning? As we explore the rest of this text ask yourself - do you consider yourself to be good? Do you compare your goodness to those around you or to the only true standard of goodness - God?John Calvin, the great 16th century reformer, said this“Nearly all the wisdom we possess consists of two parts: the knowledge of God and of ourselves…We cannot seriously aspire after Him before we begin to become displeased with ourselves.”Having reoriented the view of goodness to the proper location and person, Jesus begins to answer the man’s original question. Whenever Jesus is asked how to obtain eternal life before His crucifixion He always pointed people to the Law - specifically to the 10 Commandments. In Luke 10 when a lawyer asks Jesus how he could inherit eternal life Jesus answered him with the same question - what is written in the law. Here Christ takes this young man through the latter half of the law - Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not bear false witness, do not defraud, honor your father and mother.All of these are the commandments that are termed the horizontal commandments - these all pertain to our actions towards other people. The one part that is not a part of the 10 Commandments is the comment not to defraud another person - this is a financial admonition and is specifically linked to this man’s status as a rich young man. He was not a tax collector, in which case his wealth would have been certainly gained through illicit means, but often riches are amassed at the expense of others.This man has a ready answer - what would your answer be?The Wrong AnswerDropping the honorific good, the man responds quickly - “Teacher, I have kept all these from my youth.” It is interesting as we look back over our lives how we choose to interpret events. It has been said that hindsight is always 20/20 but I really think that in most cases hindsight is tinged a bit by rose colored glasses as we choose to highlight and focus in on only the good parts of a memory and forget the pain that may have been a part. According to my wife child birth is one of these events - if you ask any woman who has given birth they can tell you almost every second of labor and every event that took place but somehow they forget the pain or, again according to my wife, they would probably never go through it again.But there is more than simply selective memory in this man’s response. In Jewish culture it was a well accepted opinion that a person possessed the ability without exception (meaning that anyone could do this) to fulfill God’s commandments. This was so firmly rooted in rabbinic teaching that in all seriousness they spoke of people who had kept the entire Torah from A to Z. You will remember Paul’s own words regarding himself in Philippians 3although I have reasons for confidence in the flesh. If anyone else thinks he has grounds for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised the eighth day; of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew born of Hebrews; regarding the law, a Pharisee; regarding zeal, persecuting the church; regarding the righteousness that is in the law, blameless.Paul could be considered to be blameless and this young man considered himself to be blameless as well. And he very well may have been.But this was the wrong answer. Just as the Pharisees had relied on the permissive standard set forth by Moses that fulfilled their hard hearts desires, this man stops short of giving the right answer that would have helped him obtain what he claimed to be seeking. Instead of stopping at “I have kept all these from my youth” a truer response would have been to continue on with “but there is still something missing, there is still a longing I can’t fill, I’m still crushed by guilt that I can’t explain.”But can we really be that judgmental of this man? Is he really all that different from some who are in the evangelical church - really most of those who make up the evangelical church today? We grew up at church. We didn’t do the things other kids did. We followed the rules, sang all the songs, learned our verses, did all of the things we were told to do. And we wonder at the findings that 53% of Americans think that salvation is earned by works.The text says that Jesus looked at him and loved him. The love expressed here is agapao or a derivative of agape love - meaning to have warm regard for, to have affection for, to cherish another. Jesus didn’t often accept hypocrisy in this way - more often He called it for what it was. But this man He looked at and loved. Remember that because we’ll come back to it later.Right now though Jesus looks at him and says “One thing you lack: Go, sell all you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in Heaven. Then come, follow me.” Jesus is getting to the heart of the issue now - He is getting to the heart of that gnawing concern in the back of this man’s mind that is keeping him from God. The man is an idolater. His true god is his wealth and while he may have kept the horizontal commandments with respect to other people, he was an egregious violator of the first four commandments, the vertical commandments that would regulate his relationship to God.A person who leads an exemplary life - who even endears himself to the Savior - can still be an idolater.Puritan Samuel Rutherford said it this way
See that you buy the field where the pearl is. Sell all, and make a purchase of salvation. Do not think it easy, for it is a steep ascent to eternal glory. Many are lying dead by the way, who were slain with security.But in the end, at least for this young man, it is as Thomas A Kempis said
Jesus always has many who love His heavenly kingdom, but few who bear His cross.Do you only love the kingdom this morning - do you only desire the benefits of the kingdom and have no desire to bear His cross?The Wronger ResponseThe man’s response is telling to the condition of his heart. The text tells the story - he was dismayed by this demand, and he went away grieving because he had many possessions. But this really only tells a bit of the story because some is lost in translation.The word translated dismayed is the Greek word stygnazo - and it means to be shocked, appalled. This word is only used twice in the New Testament - once here and the other time is in Matthew where it is translated threateningAnd in the morning, ‘Today will be stormy because the sky is red and threatening.’ You know how to read the appearance of the sky, but you can’t read the signs of the times.Other places the root word stygetos is used tell an even deeper meaning to the wordslanderers, God-haters, arrogant, proud, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents,God-haters is derived from stygetos.Let love be without hypocrisy. Detest evil; cling to what is good.Detest is derived from stygetos.I think it is safe to say that the young man left Jesus with a darkened complexion. The man who cam seeking eternal life left without having secured what he sought - why? Because he was unwilling to pay the cost.The heart is more deceitful than anything else, and incurable—who can understand it?He was deceived in his heart and in so doing he had placed something else - temporal riches - above God. He loved his money more than He loved God and he would not give them up for him. Now let us be clear - Christ is not encouraging all Christians to sell off all our possessions and to live a life of abject poverty. He is using this man’s wealth to expose the truth of his heart and to reveal to him that he truly is not seeking God - only the benefits that come with him.This man departs angry and dejected. If this were the 21st century he would have gone off to be an anti-church blogger who rails against the truth of the Gospel. We have those don’t we. We have a whole generation of kids who are leaving the church because we brought them up to believe that Jesus could be their savior but He didn’t have to be their Lord. That they could be forgiven for sins (and really their sins weren’t all that bad anyway - they were essentially good people) so just pray this prayer and your troubles will be taken away. No sacrifice necessary. No pain. No trouble.It is the American Gospel. This rich, young ruler would have fit right in to a thousand different churches across America. He has the prosperity - he must be blessed by God. But his heart wasn’t there and there are so many American kids who’s hearts aren’t there either. This man came seeking Jesus on his terms - as an additive to his already self-determined goodness - and when it became apparent that his terms were not the terms of agreement he chose instead to walk away from God than to bow the knee and submit to Him.Notice though that Jesus does not chase after him. He does not beg him to come back. He turns to His disciples and, using hyperbole, gets to the heart of the issue explaining to them what just happened. The disciples were aghast - this young man approached Jesus, he was a sure thing. This was not church growth 101. At least not the way the disciples would have done it. They would have signed the man up, put him in the roll book and then probably never see him again. But Jesus let him go - saying only how hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God.But this statement is only superficially about wealth. Notice His second statement - “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God. 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.” This statement is pure hyperbole and not a literal comparison of a camel going through a literal gate in Jerusalem. The Persians of Jesus day had a comparable saying “It is easier for an elephant to go through the eye of a needle” but the camel was the largest animal in Israel so they amended the saying to accommodate it to their local context.And if there were a gate that could not fit a camel why would you force it through that gate anyway when there were plenty of other gates to enter into Jerusalem from. The point is that salvation cannot be earned by the superficial system of being a good person. It is easier for a camel to fit through the eye of a needle than for a man to earn his own salvation. In the context of the situation in front of Him Jesus could make reference to those who are rich. There is a certain amount of security that comes with having money - it adds a layer of difficulty to the true spiritual recognition that you are spiritually bankrupt.The Real Right QuestionThe disciple’s response is illuminating. And they ask they real right question. Notice back in Mark 10:17 the original question from the young man - what must I do to inherit salvation. Even recognizing that salvation was a gift and something to be inherited, he perverted it by making it something that he could do, something he could earn, something that his merit could increase the likelihood that he would be able to obtain.The disciple’s ask a different question - Then who can be saved? They recognize that the standards they had been brought up on, the standards that their entire religious lives had been built on were unattainable. If they couldn’t earn salvation through good works - and the possession of great wealth meant that you had more opportunities and capabilities for good works - then who could earn salvation? And how?Jesus responds - with man it is impossible but not with God, because all things are possible with God.That’s the crux of salvation - it is all of God and none of man. We are born dead in our trespasses, seeking our own way, God-haters who are doing everything we can to get away from God. And yet He, out of His abundant love and mercy, reaches out and pulls us back, waking us up from our dead spiritual state to recognize our poverty, our inability to earn His favor and yet He bestows it upon us anyway through the shed blood of His Son.That is the great hope of the Gospel - that God has moved to save us despite who we are. Charles Spurgeon once quipped
396An old woman told John Newton she was sure that God chose her before she was born, for he never would have chosen her afterwards, and I think there is some truth in that remark.And unlike the rich, young man - the response of the disciples was not only different but the right response of one seeking to be a disciple.The Right ResponsePeter speaks up saying “We have left everything and followed you.” And they had after a fashion. They had not given up homes or wives - but they had left their livelihood and the security that had, as illusory as it was, provided them a measure of religious comfort. They had given all of that up on the hope that Jesus really was the Messiah and that His promise of eternal life was sure.There is a cost to discipleship - and Jesus lays it out for them again. No one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields - these are the trappings of life. And often these are the things that are maybe not most often lost but are those things which wound us the most deeply when they are lost. How many of you, after becoming a Christian, were forced to break contact with family members because they no longer wanted to be around you. One relationship Christ does not mention is that of a wife - and having just taught the disciples on the sanctity of marriage He reinforces it here. Although there are those among us who have unbelieving spouses and that can be the hardest of all - but as Peter teaches we do not lose or give up our marriage because we are saved. Every other relationship Jesus mentions can be severed - as costly as it may be emotionally - without detriment to the Gospel.But there is hope. When we submit to Christ we get a new citizenship in a new country and we are accepted into a new family with new bonds that are built on something stronger than DNA. We are brought into the family of God and receive so many more brothers and sisters, mothers and children. Here Jesus leaves out fathers because our Father in Heaven is the only father we need. The other change is that we can also look forward to persecutions. All with the promise of eternal life at the end of it. The eternal life as Jesus defines it - not as the world tries to.This is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and the one you have sent—Jesus Christ.Conclusion
- It Is Well With My Soul
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