Big Idea: In contrast to the simplicity of childlikeness, we tend to get more entangled in an earthly perspective as we become more “successful”, and that will block our path to heaven.
Scripture. If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. Colossians 3:1-2 ESV
And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? 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, Honour your father and mother.’” And he said to him, “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.” And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”
Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. And Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” And the disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how difficult 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.” And they were exceedingly astonished, and said to him, “Then who can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.”
Peter began to say to him, “See, we have left everything and followed you.” 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 lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first. Mark 10:17-31 ESV
Some observations about this story.
The “successful” young man acted very polite, open, sincere, and seeking.
He seemed to be obedient to the Jewish laws.
He was an open-hearted, seemingly moral, likeable young man and Jesus loved him.
He was the kind of man we’d like in our church.
But there was something Jesus perceived that had entangled him and was blocking his entry into the Kingdom of God. He was owned by another god — Mammon. “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money. (mammon).” Matthew 6:24 ESV
So Jesus insightfully challenged the wealthy man. “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” “You’ve got to free yourself from the other god, or you won’t get to heaven. This is a matter of life and death.”
Here’s the root issue of this story. “Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.” He was sorrowful because his great riches were blocking his entrance into the Kingdom of God. He didn’t own great possessions — they owned him.
Why were his riches blocking his entrance into the Kingdom? Remember the four childlike attributes of children that open then to the Kingdom?
Children have a sense of wonder. By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and by the breath of his mouth all their host. He gathers the waters of the sea as a heap; he puts the deeps in storehouses. Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him! For he spoke, and it came to be he commanded, and it stood firm.
Psalms 33:6-9 ESV
‘Ah, Lord God! It is you who have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you.’ Jeremiah 32:17 ESV
Children are teachable. “To know wisdom and instruction, to understand words of insight, to receive instruction in wise dealing, in righteousness, justice, and equity; to give prudence to the simple, knowledge and discretion to the youth— Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance,” Proverbs 1:2-7 ESV
“Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation;” Psalms 25:4-5 ESV
Children are trusting by nature. “The steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace, Because he trusts in You. “Trust in the Lord forever, For in God the Lord, we have an everlasting Rock”. Isaiah 26:3-4 NASB
“He is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord. His heart is steady; he will not be afraid, until he looks in triumph on his adversaries”. Psalms 112:7-8 ESV
Children are simple and uncomplicated. But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.
2 Corinthians 11:3 ESV
He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves wealth with his income; this also is vanity. When goods increase, they increase who eat them, and what advantage has their owner but to see them with his eyes? Ecclesiastes 5:10-11 ESV
This young man’s possessions had entangled him so that he’d lost:
His sense of wonder. He walked away from the only one who could open his way to heaven.
His willingness to learn. He may have believed Jesus, but was he was unwilling to obey him
His willingness to trust God. He come to trust in his money more than God’s promises.
His simplicity. His life had become complicated by the accumulation of too much stuff.
The story seems to end as the young man walks away from God. Hopefully this is a personal testimony of Mark, and he learned his lesson at Gethsemane. “And a young man followed him, with nothing but a linen cloth about his body. And they seized him, but he left the linen cloth and ran away naked.” Mark 14:51-52 ESV
Jesus looked at his disciples and said, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.” Mark 10:27 ESV