Gospel Quest #7: Christ and Commitment
Text: Mark 10:17-31
Key verse Mark 10:28
Introduction: The commitment of John Harper
In the 1900s, John Harper, was the newly-called pastor of Moody Bible Church. He was a Scottish Baptist Preacher who was returning to Chicago after serving there the previous fall as a guest preacher. To make the crossing, in April of 1912 he booked passage on the newest, largest and safest ship that had ever been built, the Titanic and he and his 6 year old daughter set sail across the Atlantic. When the Titanic struck the iceberg that ripped open the unsinkable ship, John Harper got his young daughter into a lifeboat and then began helping others. It is said, he asked one young man if he was saved and when the man told him no, he gave him the lifejacket he wore, because he said, “I know where I’m going if I die and you don’t.” Later he was seen leaning against the rail as the ship sunk, pleading with another young man to come to Christ. - Ministers' Research Service -Encyclopedia of 15,000 Illustrations: Signs of the Times.
Four years after the Titanic went down, a young Scotsman stood up in a church testimony meeting in Hamilton, Canada and told this story, "I am a survivor of the Titanic. When I was drifting alone on a spar that awful night, the tide brought Mr. John Harper, of Glasgow, on a piece of wreck near me. 'Man,' he said, 'are you saved?' 'No,' I said, 'I am not.' He replied, 'Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.'
"The waves bore him away; but, strange to say brought him back a little later, and he said, 'Are you saved now?' 'No,' I said, 'I cannot honestly say that I am.' He said again, 'Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved,' and shortly after he went down; and there, alone in the night, and with two miles of water under me, I believed. I am John Harper's last convert." - Aquilla Webb - Encyclopedia of 15,000 Illustrations: Signs of the Times.
John Harper was a man who was committed to Jesus Christ, in his life and in his death. He held to that commitment. As we continue our Gospel Quest series, it is Christ and commitment that I want us to look at this morning in Mark 10:17.
What Must I Do? Mark 10:17-20
And when he was gone forth into the way, there came one running, and kneeled to him, and asked him, Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life? And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, [that is], God. Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Defraud not, Honour thy father and mother. And he answered and said unto him, Master, all these have I observed from my youth.
In Luke’s Gospel, we learn that this was a ruler of the Jews, probably a member of a local council in the synagogue. In Mark’s account we are just told, there came one running. He comes running to Jesus and falls at his feet. He was eager to hear the Lord, and he was humble before the Lord. He even calls Jesus “good master” a flattering title which nevertheless showed his respect for the famous teacher. Then the Bible tells us that he asks a very specific question, “what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?” He is asking what he himself, in his own power, morality and legalism can do, to earn or deserve eternal life.
Jesus now questions the questioner, “Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, [that is], God.” Two things are happening with this answer first the Jewish Rabbis did not allow themselves to be called “good.” For only God was truly good. But more important Jesus correcting this young man’s attitude, his almost flippant use of the term which even though Jesus truly was good and truly was God, this young man did not know this and Jesus needed him to be brought up short so that He could show this man the truth about Himself. It meant nothing to this man to used the description and Jesus would not allow such shallowness. He did much the same thing when He talked to another rich ruler named Nicodemus in John 3. Nicodemes came in and said, “We know thou art art a teacher come from God” Jesus said, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” In other words, Nicodemus you don’t even know what your talking about. The same principle applies here. Jesus needed this young ruler to understand, he didn’t have the answers.
Some people used this passage to claim that Jesus was not God, for if He was He would have claimed the title the young ruler used. But notice Jesus did not say, “I am not good or I am not God”
The question was aimed at leading the young man to consider the true identity of Jesus. It was an indirect assertion of His deity, since goodness or sinlessness is a quality of God alone. - The Wycliffe Bible Commentary.
Truly Jesus was good, and truly He was God, but Jesus needed this seeker to believe it not just state it like so much flattery.
Next Jesus answers the question about earning eternal life, and He answers it in a purely legal way. He tells the man, “Keep the commandments.”
Earning the Eternal
Many people today still do ask the same question. What must I do? How can I get to heaven on my strength and goodness? What’s worse is that many people don’t even ask, they already think they know the answer. They believe that God is keeping a list of the good and bad they do and then like Santa Claus will use that list to save for condemn them.
How do you reach people like that? What did Jesus do? He brought up the law of God. When we understand the purpose of the law and we use it lawfully, as Paul says, then the law bring people to the understanding that they can’t keep it and they must seek mercy not justice, forgiveness not judgment.
The purpose of the law was to show our inability to match God's standard of absolute holiness.
Galatians 3:19-24 Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator. Now a mediator is not a mediator of one, but God is one. Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law. But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe. But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.
When God’s law works in us then we come to the same conclusion that Paul does in Romans 3:10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: and Romans 3:23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
Illustration: Jumping to Galveston.
If we all lined up at the edge of the mainland and looked toward Galveston Island and somone said jump, would anyone of us reach island almost a mile away? Some may jump further than others but none can jump all the way. In the same way, the law brings us before a Holy and Righteous God and makes us understand that it is His holiness that I am unable to keep. I cannot compare myself with another person but by God's law and the conviction of the Holy Spirit I must understand that I cannot meet the holy standard of God. I can't jump to Galveston and I sure cant jump to heaven.
Not watch as Jesus uses the law to show this young man the truth about himself.
What You Lack. Mark 10:21-22
Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me. And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions.
The Law and the Lawbreaker
Isn’t is interesting that Mark mentions that Jesus looked on the young ruler and loved him. It is an intimate moment that makes this story more than just a narrative about Jesus as Rabbi. The Bible says He looked at him, must have seen his sincerity and He loved Him. Yet in spite of that love, or perhaps because of that love Jesus tell the young man, there is a real problem with your idea of earning eternal life.
When Jesus gives the commandments there are two that He does not mentions. He reminds the young man, “Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Defraud not, Honour thy father and mother.” And the rich ruler says, “Master, all these have I observed from my youth.”
Jesus does not tell him, no you haven’t, instead he says, One thing you lack. Just one thing and you’ve got this made. Then Jesus tells him, “Go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.”
Do you see the two commandment Jesus didn’t ask about? They are actually the two most important commands of all the ten. This answer is a direct application of the two commandments, “Thou shalt have no other God's before me and Love thy neighbor as thyself.”
Jesus brings the two most important law right into this man’s well-constructed moral façade and shatters it into gravel and dust. Sell everything you have and give the money to the poor, is the commandment “Love you neighbor as yourself.” Come follow me is the commandment, “Love the Lord thy God with all your heart, soul, strength and mind.”
Jesus who could see this man’s heart, knew this was the true test of the law and he could not pass. We read that the young man walked away in grief, now convicted by the law, of his sin, of his inability to keep the law, but unwilling to repent and call out to Jesus the only one who truly was good, that could save him.
Crushed by Commandments
If I was there that day, how would I have measured up to these two commandments? How would I measure up to any of the commandments, if I fully understand them?
The answer for us as it was for the young ruler is no! The answer for anyone who is confronted with the law of God is that we can’t keep it, we can’t measure up, instead just like the man in Mark 10, trying to keep the law will bring me to grief and broken heartedness. We will be crushed by the commandments.
Romans 3:19-20 Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.
Never let anyone tell you that the law of God isn’t for the Church Age. We need the law and the world needs the law for without the law. We cannot see how far away from God we truly are and we will not seek mercy and grace.
The young ruler, convicted by the law, saw all this and he turned and walked away. He wanted to keep his riches and his own rules for salvation. Jesus then turns to his disciples and has an even tougher lesson for them.
What Only God Can Do Mark 10:23-27
And Jesus looked round about, and saith unto his disciples, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God! And the disciples were astonished at his words. But Jesus answereth again, and saith unto them, Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God! 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. And they were astonished out of measure, saying among themselves, Who then can be saved? And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible.
Impossible With Man
Jesus makes this incredible statement, “How hard it will be for the rich to enter into heaven.” The disciples are astonished by this statement and by what they have just seen and so Jesus reemphasizes what He just said, “Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God! 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.”
He says it is as hard as hard as a camel going through the eye of a needle. He is speaking literally here. Though in medevil times threw was a gate in Jerusalem called the eye of the needle, they built it because of this passage of scripture. It did not exist during Jesus time. He is speaking about a real needle and a real camel. That is why the disciple a so astonished and ask the next question.
Vs. 26 And they were astonished out of measure, saying among themselves, Who then can be saved?
Just like the young ruler Jesus had to bring the disciple to a truth, to a spiritual reality beyond what they thought they knew. He uses a shocking illustration a statement and you better believe they are paying attention. They know that what Jesus is saying is impossible and Jesus knows that is what they are thinking and then He brings them to the wonderful truth of salvation.
V.27 Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible.
Possible With God
Shouldn’t you be shocked this morning at the words of Jesus? Shouldn’t you hear what He is saying and then in utter bewilderment and astonishment ask the same question, “Who then can be saved?” Shouldn’t we all come to the extremes of what I thought I knew and at the end of myself, my good works, my knowledge listen as the Lord tells me the only truth that matters. Salvation is impossible with man, but all things are possible with God.
It’s impossible for me to save myself, but God made it possible though His love. Its impossible for me to cleanse my own sin, but God made it possible through the blood of Jesus. Its impossible for me to live after I die, but God made it possible through the resurrection of His Son.In my power nothing is possible but in God’s power all things are possible.
What We Left - Mark 10:28-31
Then Peter began to say unto him, Lo, we have left all, and have followed thee. And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel's, But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life. But many that are first shall be last; and the last first.
Commitment and Care
Peter then says, “we have left all, and have followed thee.” It is a question that natural flows from Jesus’ answer about the rich and salvation. I don’t see it as selfish or as Peter seeking favor from the Lord. It seems to me to just be a simple and deeply felt confession of Peter’s devotion to his Lord and Savior. We have left all and followed thee.”
Indeed they had, they had left their jobs, their homes, their possessions and even their family to travel with Jesus. Little could he know how true his confession would be in the years that would follow Jesus ascension. Peter would even leave his own life’s breath behind as he followed Jesus in death.
I believe Peter’s statement is a hearfelt confession because of the way Jesus responds to it. There is no reprimand, but only encouragement.
Jesus says that, “Vss. 29-30 Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel's, But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life.”
Jesus promises that God will bless 100 times over the sacrifices His disciple will make. A reward that begins while they were still on the earth and would continue into eternity.
As the disciples traveled from place to place, as they gave up jobs and family and home, you know what they found? You know what God blessed them with everywhere they went. Everyplace the Gospel was preached, they found people who believed in God's word were saved and became the family, they had left behind. People they never knew became brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers in Christ.
They also would find persecutions and pain, but through it all God's promise would be proven true over and over again.
Quality of Commitment
The final application of this passage I would ask you to make today, is to consider the quality of you own commitment. Peter truthfully looked to the Lord and said, “We have left all and followed you.” What of us? What have I left? What am I willing to walk away from if called? How committed am I to following Jesus?
Oh there is a cost. Jesus never hid that cost to those who sought him out and he doesn’t hide ti today.
Luke 9:57-62. And it came to pass, that, as they went in the way, a certain man said unto him, Lord, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest. And Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head. And he said unto another, Follow me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God. And another also said, Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house. And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.
The Lord is not being harsh, He is being the Lord. If He is our Lord, Our Savior, Our King then it is His right to have our devotion, our loyalty, our commitment, our wealth and even our lives if necessary.
But never forget that in His role as Lord, he is also our rewarder. He has promised us so much, right now in this life and in eternity to come.
Romans 8:18 For I reckon (I have counted, computed and calculated) that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
Over 40 years ago, LeeOra and I left our homes and families in Arizona to go where the Spirit led and to follow Jesus Christ. Whatever may have been seen as a sacrifice then has been reward a hundred times over today. God has given us so much, so very, very much. No not riches but brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, and so many wonderful members of the family of God. People we never would have known, people who have blessed and enriched us beyond our imagination and we would never have even met them if we hadn’t been willing to leave all and follow Him.
The Captain of the Life Saving Station
The story is told of a lighthouse along a rocky coastline in New England. So terrible were the rocks and currents along this shore that they built not only a lighthouse to warn the ships but also a lifesaving station in case the ships did get caught on the rocks.
One night during a terrible storm with wind that was blowing directly toward the shore a ship was driven onto the rocks. They sent up flares and rockets and the lifesaving crew from the station manned their open row boats and prepared to launch into the raging see. The youngest member of the crew looked out at the wind and the waves crashing all around them and he called out to his captain, “Sir if we go out me may not make it back.” The captain looked out at the storm and at the ship caught in it fury and he said to the fearful young man, “Its not our job to worry about making it back our job is to rescue those who are dying.”
When it comes to making a commitment to Christ, its not our job to worry about how its all going to work out. Our calling is simply to follow Him. Don’t worry about what comes tomorrow or next year, just follow Jesus today. Trust Him, believe His Word, claim His promises and go whereever He will leads. It will be worth it every day you live on this earth and only eternity can contain the blessings and glory that await us who have committed ourselves to follow Him
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