Introduction: The importance of what you are known for.
Of all the people who ever came to the feet of Jesus, this man is the only one who went away worse than he came. - Mark 10:17-31 (NRSV)
And yet he had so much in his favor! He was a young man (Matt. 19:22) with great potential. He was respected by others, for he held some ruling office, perhaps in a local court (Luke 18:18). Certainly he had manners and morals, and there was enough desire in his heart for spiritual things that he ran up to Jesus and bowed at His feet.
Point 1: He was close but he just did not get it. - verse 17 As he was setting out on a journey, a man ran up and knelt before him, and asked him, "Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?" . . . He was close but he just did not get it. . . . Jesus said to him, "Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone.
Jesus did not contradict the man’s description of Him as “good.” Jesus merely asked him why he used the term. You called me good, before you called me God!
With all of his fine qualities, the young man was very superficial in his views of spiritual things. He certainly had a shallow view of salvation, for he thought that he could do something to earn or merit eternal life. This was a common belief in that day among the Jews (John 6:28), and it is very common today. Most unsaved people think that God will one day add up their good works and their bad works; and if their good works exceed their bad works, they will get into heaven.
The young man had a superficial view of Jesus Christ. This explains why Jesus pointed the young man to the Law of Moses: He wanted him to see himself as a sinner bowed before the holy God. We cannot be saved from sin by keeping the Law alone (Gal. 2:16–21; Eph. 2:8–10).
The Law is a mirror that shows us how dirty we are, but the mirror cannot wash us. In this man’s case the Law can bring the sinner to Christ, but the Law cannot make the sinner like Christ.
Point 2: 21 Jesus, looking at him, loved him - Long before the cross, Jesus saw his condition, and loved him any way!
verses 21 Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, "You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me." 22 When he heard this, he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions.
Money is a marvelous servant but a terrible master. If you possess money, be grateful and use it for God’s glory; but if money possesses you, beware! It is good to have the things that money can buy, provided you don’t lose the things that money cannot buy. The deceitfulness of riches had so choked the soil of this young man’s heart that he was unable to receive the good seed of the Word and be saved (Matt. 13:22).
Point 3: He was shocked and went away grieving! Looking at this young man, you would conclude that he had everything, but Jesus said that one thing was lacking: a living faith in God. His morality and good manners only concealed a problem in his heart.
Our Lord’s directions in Mark 10:21 are not to be applied to everyone who wants to become a disciple, because Jesus was addressing the specific needs of the rich young ruler. The man was rich, so Jesus told him to liquidate his estate and give the money to the poor. The man was a ruler, so Jesus told him to take up a cross and follow Him which would be a humbling experience. Jesus offered this man the gift of eternal life, but he turned it down. It is difficult to receive a gift when your fist is clenched around money and the things money can buy. The Greek word translated “grieved” gives the picture of storm clouds gathering.
The man walked out of the sunshine and into a storm! He wanted to get salvation on his terms, and he was disappointed.
verse 29 Jesus said, "Truly I tell you, 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 good news, 30 who will not receive a hundredfold now in this age—houses, brothers and sisters, mothers and children, and fields,
Point 4: We can’t miss what the promises included! Jesus assured His disciples that no one who follows Him will ever lose what is really important, either in this life or in the life to come. God will reward each one.
We can’t miss what the promises included! ." verse 29 Jesus said, "Truly I tell you, 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 good news, 30 who will not receive a hundredfold now in this age—houses, brothers and sisters, mothers and children, and fields, with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life.
Persecutions - we become wearied by external persecutions (Heb. 10:32-34). These, however, are to be considered a natural part of the Christian’s experience on earth (John 15:18-21; 2 Tim. 3:10-12; 1 Pet. 4:12-16).
Point 5: And in the age to come, eternal life!
A child does not begin to exist when he (or she) is born. The child has already existed for nine months prior to this in the mother’s womb. At the point of birth, only the conditions in which the child exists change. Before, he lived internally; now, he lives externally. Before, he was fed internally; now, he feeds externally. He does not begin to live at birth: he has lived all the time since conception, but conditions change at birth.
So also can the believer view death. At the point of death, the conditions of our eternal life change—but not the fact that we do indeed have eternal life.
When the great Christian scientist Sir Michael Faraday was dying, some journalists questioned him about his speculations for a life after death. He purportedly replied: “Speculations! I know nothing about speculations. I’m resting on certainties. - I know that my Redeemer liveth, and because He lives, I shall live also” (Job 19:25).
Conclusion: Be careful of that something on the inside! - It takes two things to blow down a tree: a storm without and spoiling within. So it is with men and women.
The winds of affliction will come into everyone's life. If there's righteousness within they'll bend but not break in times of testing and trials. But if there's a rottenness within they'll bend and break.
Well might we pray with David, "Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me." (Psalm 51:10) .