Jesus, The Better Way
David Marvin | 07.23.19
We often feel confident about trusting God with our salvation, but are not as willing to trust him with our daily lives. Do we actually believe God’s way is better than our way? In this message, we look at Mark 10 to see what it takes to go all-in with Jesus and live the better way.
Jesus, The Better Way
We often feel confident about trusting God with our salvation, but are not as willing to trust him with our daily lives. Do we actually believe God’s way is better than our way? In this message, we look at Mark 10 to see what it takes to go all-in with Jesus and live the better way.
Any Diet Coke fans in the room? Wow! There's a lot of animosity toward Diet Coke. Good grief, people. I'm a big Diet Coke fan. If I'm going to drink a soda, I'm going to choose Diet Coke all the time. My wife will make fun of me. She's always like, "Why would you choose Diet Coke?" I don't know why there's a bad rap on Diet Coke. It feels like a very clear option to me. You have one soda that has zero calories in it, and then you have one that has 180. Why would you choose…?
People are like, "Dude, that's not manly to drink Diet Coke." It feels like it's stupid to not drink Diet Coke. Why, with the options…? I know the aspartame and whatever that's doing is not exactly probably great, but when it comes down to the option of the two drinks, I'm like, "Dude, I'm going to go with that every single time." It's like, this is calorie free or I can hit the treadmill for an extra two hours through that. This feels like a no-brainer.
The reason is because, for me, I'm going, "Hey, it's not as good as real soda…" That's probably the biggest knock against it, but it's pretty good. It's not that bad, and it doesn't come with nearly as much of the side effects or consequences or the calories that come with it. You're sitting here. You're probably wondering, "Could we get to the Bible already, Pastor?" I'm going somewhere. It's intentional. Here's why I introduced that.
In the same way that in that scenario I'm like, "Dude, it's not nearly as good as the real thing, but, hey, it's pretty good. It doesn't come with all of the calories included" is the way a lot of us think about the Christian life. It's like, "Hey, following Jesus is not nearly as fun or as good as the real life out there. To do whatever you want would be awesome, but it's not that bad and you don't go to hell. That's pretty cool."
There are people in the room… That's how people think about Christianity. They're like, "Of course we all know Diet Coke is not as good as the real thing, but it's not that bad and it doesn't have the calories." "Hey, the Christian life… I mean, we all know it's not as good as the real life of doing whatever you want to all the time, but, you know, it's not terrible, and you don't go to hell." A lot of us think that way.
We think, "The Christian life isn't as good. It's not the abundant life. It's not as great as doing whatever you would want to do. It's not the greatest life you can experience, but it's kind of close. It's in the ballpark, and it has some perks." You and I, to any degree that we believe that, have been so misled.
The extreme of someone believing that idea of "The Christian life is not that great, but you get to go to heaven someday and not hell, and it's close," is not at all what the Bible presents. Some of us walked into the room, and that's what we think Christ is offering us. That's what we think the Christian life really is. It's not Diet Coke; it's kind of diet life, is how we think about it. We're like, "Yeah, it's in the ballpark, but really it's all about the next one."
The other extreme is… Maybe you didn't come into the room believing that. Maybe you came into the room and you believe the Christian life is not that big of a deal and it really doesn't matter. It also is all about eternity, but you can kind of live however you want right now. As long as you trusted in Jesus, you prayed the prayer, and you get to go to heaven when you die, you can have sex in a windmill all you want and it doesn't even matter. Some people are so confused right now.
But is that it? Is that what it is? "Hey, I can do what I want when I want. I know where I'm going when I die, and it doesn't matter what I do. Jesus doesn't even really care about it, because Jesus does love me." Let me be abundantly clear. Jesus loves everyone in this room and everyone who has said any sentences close to what I said just now, but that's also not the Christian life.
Some of us came into the room tonight, and we're buying a bill of goods on either side. We think, "The Christian life is really not that great, but you have to do it if you want to go to heaven" or we think, "It doesn't matter how you live. I can live however I want, do whatever I want with whoever I want. It doesn't even matter." Both of those are missing what Christ says he calls us to in experiencing the abundant life, the best life you could possibly experience.
Both of those, in error, miss out on what Jesus says he ultimately came to invite and to call you into. Here's the challenge if you fall into either of those extremes, if you're the person who's like, "Dude, I can do whatever I want with whoever I want, and you can't tell me anything else" or if you're the person who's like, "Look. I don't love following Jesus in this kind of diet life, but it's as good as it gets." Both of those have their downsides if you follow those lines of thinking.
On the one hand, you're going to miss out not just in this life but in the eternity to come. If you just go through the motions of saying, "Life is not that great, but I guess it's just what I have to do so I don't go to hell," you're going to find yourself depressed. You're going to find following Jesus is exhausting, is anything but what Jesus says when he's like, "Hey, put on my yoke. My burden is easy and light. Come to me if you're thirsty."
That's not what you're going to be experiencing. You're going to be experiencing, "I guess I just have to if God is going to love me, if I'm going to have eternal life." So, that's one side, and then on the other side, if you're like, "I'm going to live however I want with whoever I want," you either likely have bought some version of Christianity that's not Christianity at all or you're going to live just for this life, and for all of eternity there's going to be a way in which you regret not having stewarded and lived in line with God's will and God's way.
Both of those fall short and fail to capture the essence of what Jesus said when he was on this planet. "Here's the life I'm inviting you to." There are errors in which many of us have fallen for some of the lies contained in both of those. So, tonight, we're going to look at a story, as we continue this series Jesus Walks, that captures the heart of what Jesus said. "Here's the life I'm calling you to. Here's what you can know. Here's what you can expect both in this life and in the life to come." It's a very famous story.
Jesus Walks. If you're just joining us, it's a series we just kicked off a couple of weeks ago. Our heart for the next six weeks is to capture some of the most meaningful encounters we see Jesus having with people inside of the New Testament, and our hope is that you see Jesus, that all of us walk away going, "Wow! When God was on this planet, when the Savior walked around…God in a bod on this planet, walking around, interacting with people…here's what he looked like. Here's what the God who's there is like," because we're told that Jesus is God.
Our heart is that over the next six weeks we're seeing more and more of what the Savior who's there is like and more and more align ourselves with the reality of where he says life is found. Tonight, we're going to be in Mark, chapter 10. We're going to look at a dude… If there was ever a "most eligible bachelor" award in the Bible, other than Jesus, it would be the guy we're going to look at.
His name has been famously called the rich young ruler. This guy is the total package, ladies and gentlemen. He has riches. He is young. He is a ruler, which basically means he's part of the religious synagogue. He had influence. This dude is the guy you want to bring home to your mom. He's the guy that you grow up thinking, "Oh, if only I could have dated someone like him."
When he lived, this little rich young ruler, the community around would have said, "Man, that's an upstanding citizen." This is Tim Tebow, if you will, only not a Christian. That's who the man we're going to see is. He asked some very relevant questions, and in the dialogue he has with Jesus, we are given a vision into what Jesus says life ultimately is about.
If you follow either of those different directions of "Hey, I'm going to work my way to God" or "It's really not that great, but I guess I have to" or "I'm going to do whatever I want," you're going to fall short of experiencing the life he calls you to. So, we're going to look at three observations from this story. It's in Mark, chapter 10.
This story is included three times in the Bible. There are not a lot of stories that are like that. Three different times. Matthew includes it, Mark includes it, and Luke includes it. In other words, it's a story God wants to make sure you know, that his people learn from, that is recorded for all of history for people to observe and see what God's heart for the life he has called you to experience is. So, we'll start in verse 17 and go from there.
"And as he [Jesus] was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him…" In Luke's gospel we're told he is a ruler. In Matthew's gospel we're told he's young. All three of them eventually said he's a very rich man. So, again, total package. He's the guy you want to be if you're a fellow in the room. He's the guy you want to marry if you're a lady, you would think.
"…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.'" Jesus stops. He doesn't even immediately answer the question. It's kind of funny if you read it on the surface. You're like, "Jesus, what are you saying right there?" He's trying to address a fundamental flaw in this guy's worldview.
"Are you equating me with God? You know that no one on the planet is good but God, right? So are you calling me God? Is that what you're saying right now? Because there isn't anyone who is good except for God alone." He is addressing a flawed perspective that many people still today believe, that there are good people and there are bad people, that goodness is something you can achieve if you're a good enough person in the way you behave.
Jesus says, "Let's all get on the same page here. You know that nobody who has ever lived is good except for God, right?" He's addressing a man who would go on a few sentences later to be like, "Hey…" He basically had an identity that he thought he was good, and Jesus right off the bat says, "If you're going to know the life God calls you to, you need to know there's only one who is good. There has never been a person who has lived up to the standard of God's definition of what goodness is."
The first idea from the text that the Bible over and over emphasizes is the idea that the Christian life is all about you just pursuing being good is a lie. The goal of the Christian life is not just you being good. Jesus did not come to make bad people good or decent people "gooder." He came to make dead people alive, to make people new, to totally transform. It's not just some like, "Hey, I'm going to come in there and renovate this fixer-upper a little bit." He came to tear down the house and put something entirely new he's building and creating in its place.
You need to know if you're ever going to become a Christian or if you're in the room and you would say you're a Christian, in order to trust in a Savior you have to know you are a sinner. This is such a hard truth for us to believe, because I think a lot of us think, "I'm not that bad of a person. I feel like I'm pretty good." Jesus would say there's no one who has ever lived who was good, no one listening to my voice right now who is good by God's definition, no one tuning in at any locations, no one in this room…not your grandma, not anybody who has ever lived, he would say.
Honestly, that's hard for me to believe. I think it's because my standard of goodness is kind of relative. I think I'm good or bad or not that bad just based on the fact that I bump into people and I'm like, "I feel like I'm a good person. I try to be nice, pay my taxes. I would give somebody money if they were looking to eat." All of the ways I find myself good, oftentimes, are in comparison of people around me.
I look at the extremes, and I'm like, "Well, that's a really bad dude. That's a bad apple right there. I'll tell you that much." Or I look at people who are really good, and though I wouldn't put myself there with the epitome of the kindest life or kindest person ever, I certainly wouldn't put myself at the most evil person life, so I bet I'm close to whatever the standard of good is.
The problem with that thinking a lot of us have is it really breaks down, because no one even knows what it means to be good. To embrace the idea that there are good people and bad people in the world would be to embrace not just something the Bible says is wrong. It would be to embrace something that none of us would even agree on what is good. What is the standard or the definition of good? "If you do this amount of good things, you're a good person."
On the scale in our life or in our mind, most of us would begin to think through on the spectrum of humanity… There's a scale, and at some point, in terms of behavior, if you cross over onto this side of the line of the number of good things you do in life and the ways you live your life, you're probably a good person. If you don't and you live terribly and you hurt other people, you murder people, then you would be a bad person.
None of us would agree even where to put the line. "Everything past this side would be good. Everything over here would be bad." Let's say if this is the spectrum of human behavior and this person over here is good… When I think about the epitome of good living or good person, at the top of the list, other than Jesus, I would put Mother Teresa. She's over there in Calcutta serving lepers. She gives up her whole life.
She's like, "I'm going to lay it on the line. I'm going to go serve people. I'm giving everything I have to you, God. I'm going to be single for the sake of the gospel. I'm going to do everything I can to serve the least of these, even if it means me contracting leprosy." She gave up her entire life to serving. So, that would be the epitome, other than Jesus, of a really good life. There may be some other examples you would insert, so fill in the blank. Whoever you would put over here, this is the height of it.
Then over here we'd have the universal symbol of what it means to be evil, which I think all of us would agree on… No, that's wrong. Sorry about that. We put this right here, maybe. I'm just messing. Good grief. I'm going to get an email like, "That's really not appropriate." Over here we would have someone like Hitler. Over here we have Mother Teresa, the best life you could probably live, and then over here, Hitler. Not a great guy.
So, wherever the line would be of everyone over here is a good person and then everyone closer to Hitler, all of us would disagree. Some of you may be like, "Yeah, most people are pretty good except for over here, definitely not good people, but I think for the most part, generally…" You'll hear people say things like that. "I just think everyone has a good heart" or "I think most people in general are good."
Maybe you're on the other side and you'd be like, "No, I think most people are not good. Have you seen the world out there?" You'd be like, "No, it's definitely only like the top 10 percent, kind of like the college rule. Those are the people who are good in life." So we wouldn't even agree on the same standard. Maybe you'd go, "No, it's 50 percent. You have to divide the line and do 50 percent more things." Maybe it's like 70, kind of the school grading system. That's where it all came from. You have to do 70 percent good things in order to be good.
The point being, none of us would all land on the same place in terms of the scale of even what good is, but what is clear in the Bible is the standard of where the line is for what's good and not falls way past Mother Teresa. It would be as though the rope went way over there for all of eternity. Mother Teresa, as good as she was as a person, falls way short of God's standard of what is good.
Jesus is starting this conversation by going, "Before we go into eternal life, you know the goal is not a good life, right? The goal is not just you being good. That would be an impossible goal. No one is good but God." So if you think the whole message of God is "I'm just trying to make good people 'gooder,'" you've bought a lie. He's saying, "You're setting out for a goal you'll never be able to reach, because God's standard and definition of goodness is way different than yours."
Here's, I think, further why it's hard for us. The standard of goodness that God has, according to the Bible, is completely good. On earth, for me, it's kind of like, "Yeah, if they're mostly a good person, then they're a good person." The Bible says something crazy. If there's any part of them that's not good, they're not good. They're a bad person.
There are certain things in life we've all seen… If there's any part that's not good, then the entire thing is ruined. What do I mean by that? For example, if you traveled recently and you went on vacation for a week. You come home, go to the fridge, and what do you do? You begin to check food and look at stuff. You're like, "Is this good?" You're checking expiration dates. You pull out the milk. All of a sudden, you see there are curdled parts of the milk.
What would you not do? You wouldn't take that out and be like, "Look. The curdles are just on the top. Let's strain this out. Everything else is fine in here," unless you're psychotic. You are rational enough to know, "If any part of this is not good, the whole thing is not good." The Bible is crazy. That is God's standard for heaven. That is God's standard in terms of goodness. There is no person who has ever lived who is as good as God, who has lived in such a way that they could even be classified as good, and certainly not classified as good enough for heaven.
The goal of the Christian life is not to just be good. It is so much more than that. So, Jesus engages in a conversation with this guy, saying, "Why do you call me good? There's nobody who has ever been good but God." Maybe you're thinking, "Isn't the Bible stories of good people and good principles? Isn't that kind of what the Bible is, a bunch of stories of people who try their best to live a good life? There are some good guys in there, and follow their example." No!
The Bible is story after story of a bunch of bad guys and one good guy, and the bad guys are so bad they kill the one good guy. That's Jesus. If you think I'm kidding, every single story… Person after person is someone who is totally broken, messed up, and God, despite all of that, uses them. Think about it.
Abraham, father of our faith. Do you remember Abraham? "Father Abraham had many sons." Abe. Abraham pimps out his wife Sarah twice. I think we can all agree that's at least two times too many. That's Abraham. That's the guy who God is like, "You! Hey! I'm picking you. Father of many nations. Everyone is going to be descended from you." That's the one God chooses.
David. Remember King David? He killed Goliath. Went out there with a slingshot and took him down. David sleeps with the wife of one of his best friends and then kills him to cover it up. Think about that. That's the guy the Bible says, "A man after God's own heart. That's what that guy is." I'm not even sure we'd let him serve at The Porch. He's a little crazy. For real.
Moses. Moses had an anger problem to the point where he killed another guy with his bare hands. The apostle Paul, the guy who spent half his life trying to stomp out Christianity, who oversaw people losing their lives… That's the guy that Jesus decided, "You know what? We're going to let him write half of the New Testament." The Bible is not story after story of good people and good principles; it is a story about a bunch of bad, broken people and one good guy named Jesus, who came into this world, who died for all of the bad different people.
The goal of the Christian life is not to just be good. If you're ever going to step into experiencing everything God wants for you, you have to recognize that you in and of yourself are not a good person, because that need of being a sinner sets you up to experience the solution of your Savior coming into your life. If you can't get there, you're never going to see a need for a Savior.
Jesus continues going in the conversation with the man and takes an interesting direction. Here's what he responds with in response to, "You know there's nobody good but God." "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.'" And he said to him, 'Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.'"
I'm not entirely confident this is right, but my guess is that's probably not true. If I'm Jesus, I'm sitting there like, "All of these? Really? Huh. You've always honored your father and mother, never sped on the camel. Never? Not anything? Hmm." I would be calling out, like, "Hey, I don't know if you know this, but I'm God, and I saw when you were 11 and 11-1/2 and 12 when you talked back to your mom and every day of your life."
Jesus doesn't do that at all. Here's what it says. I love this. "Jesus looked at him and loved him. 'One thing you lack,' he said. 'Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.'""Disheartened by the saying, the man went away very sorrowful." He was sad because he had great possessions.
What is Jesus saying? In Matthew's version of the story, Jesus said in response to the man saying, "Hey, look. I've done all of the commandments, all of those five commandments…" It's interesting. There are only five of them he mentions. I'll come back to that in a second. "I've done all of them my entire life. What else must I do?" In Matthew it says, "If you want to be perfect, here's what you have to do."
It's interesting. Jesus says, "You still lack one thing," and then he tells him at least four things to go do. "Go. Sell. Give. Follow." What's the one thing? What are you saying here, Jesus? Jesus is telling the man, "If you want to live by the standard of perfection and by the law and you want to get into heaven or have a relationship with God according to the law, you have to be perfect. You have to follow everything God's Word has ever said. Clearly, you don't love your neighbor as yourself, which is a command, because you have all this money and there are a lot of poor people out there, so go sell everything you have."
Jesus wasn't against the man, and it wasn't even about money. Jesus loved this man, but he knew there was something that was holding him back from going all in with Jesus, and that was his money. Ultimately, what Jesus presses on is so relevant to our lives. Do you know what disabled the guy from going and selling everything, from doing what God said to do or from doing what Jesus, who is God, in that moment said to do?
He didn't really believe Jesus was as good as he said. He didn't believe Jesus was God or that "God is good, and everything God ever asks of me to do is always good. I can trust him. It's better than my plan, so I can go sell everything I have, and it's only going to be for my benefit. I'm going to see it's only better than I could have even imagined." Not believing God was good kept him from going all in with God. It was not believing fully.
He may have said, "God is good; praise God," but there were areas of his life that didn't believe God's ways are always good, God's commands, God's will for your life is always good, and it kept him from going all in with God. I think that truth is so relevant to us today, because I know there are parts of my heart… When it comes to God's commands in the Bible, God's ways for my life, there are parts of me that are like, "I don't know that I really believe God is as good as he says he is."
I think I would give more if I really believed that everything I ever give, I'm going to have treasure in heaven. Everything I've ever given, I'll never regret anything I sacrifice for God's kingdom. I think I would give more if I fully and totally believed God is as good as he says, so everything he tells me to do is good. I think I'd probably worry less. I think I'd care a lot less what other people think.
There are parts of my life and parts of your life that may not believe God is as good, his ways are as good as he says they are. I wrote in my notes that anytime I resist the will of God, resist what God's Word and the Bible says, what his commands say, it reflects the fact that I don't believe God is as good as God says he is, maybe even as I say he is.
I think a lot of us in the room would be like, "Look, dude. God is great. God is good. He's Lord over everything. He's so good," but when it comes to you breaking up with your girlfriend who you know is not who God has for you, when it comes to you not living together before marriage, you're like, "I can't do that. That's just crazy. That's just not wise. It's not what people do today." You don't believe God is as good as he says.
He says, "Keep the marriage bed undefiled." You don't believe that's actually good. If you're doing it and you're like, "Begrudgingly, I guess I'll do it, but I don't really like to. I guess I have to to go to heaven," that's not believing that God in everything he says in the Bible and every command he gives you is really good. It's for your good. It's going to lead to life. Like, "I can trust him. I can do it. I'll have no regrets in life. Take it to the bank."
Sadly, I think if most of us were honest, there are parts of us that are like, "I just don't know I actually believe doing what God says every time is really that good, that everything God commands is good." This was a man who didn't believe following Jesus' command would actually be something that, for the rest of his days, he would go, "Man, I never regret that decision."
What's interesting is Jesus even says four verses later, "This is not about money. This is about whether you trust me. Are you all in with me? Do you surrender? Do you believe I'm as good as I say I am? Do you believe I'm better than anything the world could offer? Do you believe I'm better than your possessions?" That's what this whole thing was about. It wasn't about money. How do I know that? Think about these sentences. In verse 28, Peter said, after this whole thing goes down, "God, we left everything to follow 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…'"
People will read this text and be like, "You see? Jesus is against you having stuff." That's insane. Jesus just said anyone who goes all in with his kingdom is going to have more stuff than ever before. For all of eternity, they're going to have a hundred times as much stuff. Jesus isn't against your stuff. People will be like, "If you really want to be spiritual, you have to give everything away and pretend like you like it." That is not what the Bible teaches.
That's not the point he's trying to make. He's saying, "Do you believe I'm as good as I say I am? Who do you think I am? Do you trust me? Are you going all in or are you just trying to control the circumstances and kind of get what you want out of life?" For you, maybe it's not money. You're like, "I'd give it all away. I have like $4. I'm all in. I surrender it."
To you, he may be saying, "Are you willing to save sex for marriage? Are you willing to stop partying on the weekend? Are you willing to change the friend group you run with? You know they're pulling you down. Are you willing to give up alcohol? Are you willing to surrender the areas of your life that you know you're experiencing less than God's best, areas where you're living outside of what God says in his Word is how to live and where life is found?"
If you're resisting right now and you're like, "No, I don't know that I could do that…" Are you willing to give up your reputation in your Community Group by bringing forward and confessing the sin you've been hiding? Like, "I'm over it. I don't care what they think about me. I want to be free, and I want to honor God." Are you willing to do that? If not, it's because there's an area of your heart that doesn't believe God is as good as he says he is and you can trust him and do what he says and it always leads to your good, because that's what the Bible says.
Some of us, sadly, do what the rich young ruler did, which is we want to have this relationship with God that's like "friends with benefits." Do you know what friends with benefits is? It's like whenever you have a relationship with somebody, and you're like, "Hey, you're in the friend zone, but you're kind of attractive enough for us to have casual sex every now and then, but we're definitely not getting married, and this is not that serious. I'll kind of keep my options open still, and I get to fool around whenever I want to and kind of hook up and then also still date."
It's telling that person, "I like what I can get from you, but I'm not ready to commit to you, and I want to explore, because I think there's probably a better option out there." A lot of people think that way and live that way with God, where it's like, "I want to go to heaven when I die. I want to have everything I want. I want to be able to have sex in as many windmills as possible, and I want to do whatever I want to, but I'm not ready to go all in."
"I want to spend this season building my career. I know God is like, 'You're supposed to be involved in a church,' and I'm like, 'That's a little intense.' I'll do that at some point. I'm going to settle down and get more serious about my faith, but I'm not ready to right now. But I still want to go to heaven when I die, still love the good vibes I get whenever I go and hear the service. It's good for me. Here we go. But I'm not ready to go all in."
It's like a weird "friends with benefits" thing. Just like in that scenario… The reason you don't go all in with her is because you're like, "I think there may be something better." The same thing is being said about Jesus. The rich young ruler looks the Son of God in the face and says, "Oh, dude, I think I may have something better." That's insane.
When I read that story I'm like, "Dude, what did you even have? You had a lot of possessions? Like, a camel?" What do you have in the first century that's like, "I have a lot of cool stuff here, Jesus. I don't know if I can give up this basket here. This is my camel, and I have a blanket. I don't think so." It's not like he has an iPhone and he's like, "All right. Well, Jesus, I don't know. What can you do that an iPhone can't do?" It's not like he had cool stuff, but he's still going… It's crazy!
From this vantage point, you're going, "Dude, you just turned down the Son of God. You were afraid of missing out, and look at what you missed out on!" Think about that. That's crazy. This dude would have been the thirteenth disciple. He's the guy who told Jesus, "No." It's a very small list of people who said "No" to Jesus. There are a lot of people who wanted to follow Jesus who Jesus said "No" to. "Slow your ride." To this guy he says, "Follow me" and the guy says, "No."
We would have been naming our children after him. It would have been Matthew, Mark, Luke, and Rory. Rory is over here. Think about that. He looked the Son of God in the face and said, "No. I really like my stuff." I wonder how much that's still happening today. We look God in the face, and as silly as that looks, where you're like, "Really? A camel? Ten camels? A house? That's why you turned him down?" It has to look just as silly from eternity's vantage point.
"Really? He asked you to save and, when it came to dating, to date in a specific way and to preserve and pursue purity and you were like, 'No, I don't really care about that'? You thought your way would be better than God's? You didn't think you were going to miss out on all that comes with the good life God wants for you by following his ways? Really? You wanted to live for you in this life and spend all your time just focused on you when he said anything you do in this life and in this world will be echoed for all of eternity? You want to spend all of that on you?" It has to look just as crazy.
The reason it happens… I know in my life it's because there are areas of my heart that do not believe God is as good as he says he is, that his ways are as good as he says. Jesus looks at the man, and he pushes his thumb on that. "You don't think you can trust me." And he loved him. This wasn't about his stuff; this was about a relationship. Finally, it says Jesus looked around, as the man went away sad, and said:
"'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.'"
The disciples are astonished, because in this day, in this time, the idea was a wealthy person was wealthy because God was blessing him. Jesus says, "That's not what's going on." In other words, people had this wrong idea that if you're really wealthy it's because you're #blessed and God has blessed your life, and that's why you're rich, so you're going to have a closer relationship with God. Jesus says, "That's not true at all."
The point, again, is not about rich people. You can be rich and go to hell or you can be poor and go to hell. You can be rich and go to heaven and you can be poor and go to heaven. The point of the story is that dependence, the ability of being able to say, "I'm not good. I need a Savior. My obedience to keeping the commandments will never save me…"
Becoming a person who sees their desperate need for God to bridge the gap that their behavior can't do, like, "I can't be a good enough person…" It becomes more and more difficult to see your need for God the more money you have. That's all he's saying. If you read the last verse of this whole section, he says it's impossible for anyone to be saved, that man can never save himself, that God alone saves every single time.
If you're in church for the first time in a while, I want you to listen to me. Keeping sacraments will not get you to heaven. Getting baptized will not save you. Your church attendance will not save you. Reading your Bible will not save you. Doing anything that involves you will not save you. Christianity is not what you achieve; it is who you receive and Jesus. That's the message of Christianity, and you don't have to accept that.
Maybe you're like, "Huh. That's at least fascinating." You need to at least walk out of here, if you don't have a Christian faith, knowing that's what the Bible teaches. It doesn't teach, "Do a bunch of good things and be good people, and this is what God is here for. Good, good, good." It teaches that there's no one who can do good but God, and he came and he died for bad people like you and me.
God alone is the one who saves. All we do is receive. We accept the free gift God has offered us. What is the free gift? Jesus. He gave his life. That's what he was doing on the cross. He died for you. The message of Christianity is not good people go to heaven and bad people go to hell. It's forgiven people, and there's only one way to be forgiven. Forgiveness restores a relationship. If I hurt you and we're upset with one another and I come and ask for forgiveness, it allows the relationship to heal.
Jesus, in dying for you, extended the invitation that "I've paid for everything wrong you did. It's forgiven." Forgiveness is yours. You have to accept it. How do you accept it? Stop trusting in how good of a person you are. Stop believing "All of these I've kept from my youth, and that's why I should get in." Honestly, the flip side is probably more relevant today. I less hear people being like, "I've kept all of the commandments from my youth" and more like, "I've just been a really bad person."
Just like this guy is off because he's like, "Doing good gets me in," this guy is off because he thinks, "Doing bad keeps me out." The Bible doesn't teach any of that. It teaches trusting in Jesus is what grants access to eternal life. The rich person in this story… The reason it is so difficult is because he was unable to see his need for a Savior and depended on himself, depended on the good things he had done.
Even right before this section, do you know what it says? The verses right before. I've never noticed this before. Literally, in Mark 10, three verses before this story we're reading, it says, "And they were bringing children to [Jesus] that he might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them."
So, Jesus is sitting there. The rich young ruler is about to run up. He's sitting there hanging out, and people are like, "Oh, that's Jesus. Let's bring our kids over there. Maybe he can bless them." The disciples are like, "What, do you think this is Disney World? Get these kids out of here," and Jesus looks at them. He saw it and was indignant, or upset, at the disciples.
He said, "Let the children come to me…" Or "little ones come to me." He's talking about little children. "'…do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.' And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them."
What is he saying? In Jesus' day, just like in our day, children were totally dependent on their parents. Children didn't bring anything to the table. They didn't provide for themselves. They often didn't change their clothes, depending on their age. They literally bring nothing to the table. I have two kids. I have a 1-year-old daughter. She brings nothing to the table but need. I mean, nothing. She can't feed herself. She can't walk. She can't change her diaper. She literally brings nothing but noise into our home. That's her contribution. She's totally dependent.
Before going into the story of the rich young ruler, Jesus said, "Do you know how you enter the kingdom of God? Totally dependent." You have to see yourself as you bring nothing to the table but need. As easy as that sounds, for many of us, it's the hardest thing we can do, because you still think your need, your failure, keeps you out of heaven. You've bought a lie.
In another place, Jesus said you have to exceed the righteousness of the Pharisees and scribes in order to enter heaven. In Matthew 5:20 it says, "For I tell you that unless your righteousness [your behavior, your goodness] surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven."
When his audience heard that, they would have gasped, because the teachers of the law and the Pharisees… Those dudes were professional Christians. "This is what we do." They memorized the Old Testament. Most of you haven't read the Old Testament. They fasted all the time. They gave their whole life. "God, you have all of it."
Jesus looked at these guys in the crowd and said, "Unless you're a lot better than these guys, unless the righteousness you have is better than them, you're not getting into heaven." This would be like me saying to you, "Hey, guys. In order to get into heaven, you have to be fast." You might go, "How fast?" I say, "You have to be faster than Usain Bolt." You would go, "That's impossible. You mean the guy who literally holds the world record for fastest human of all time? That guy?"
"Yeah. That guy."
"Well, if he's not good enough, then no one is good enough."
Jesus would say, "Exactly." That's the point. If you try to act and behave your way, you're never going to get there. He looks into the eyes of this man, saying, "You obeying the law was never to be the way you could have a road to God. The Old Testament was not given for that purpose, and you need to know this."
Do you know the very first thing that is given after the Ten Commandments? Remember what I said earlier? Jesus goes through and says five of the Ten Commandments. Do you know in the Old Testament, in Exodus 20, God gives the Ten Commandments? You've probably heard the Ten Commandments before. It tells us that God comes to Moses and is like, "Write these things down" and "Let my people go."
He gets the tablets, and he's writing them out there, and he's like, "These are awesome, dude. These are original. This is great. 'Don't commit adultery.' Got it. 'Don't kill.'" He goes through all of the Ten Commandments. Moses goes down the mountain. He has the Ten Commandments. Do you know what the next thing that happens is? I mean, the very next thing God says.
"Here's what I want you to do next. Build an altar. Get the people together and build an altar. I know I just gave you the Ten Commandments and nobody has even tried to follow them yet. You're never going to be able to, so build an altar and sacrifice to me on it." Think about that. Before anything has ever taken place and before any laws have even been broken, God is like, "Here's the law, and I know you're not going to follow them, so I need you to set up an altar to make sacrifices." It is the very next thing.
The purpose of the law was never to give you some path. "If you can keep these things, you can have a relationship with God." He knew you couldn't. That's why the next thing he says is, "Build an altar, and on it you're going to sacrifice to me for all of the ways you fail to live up to these ten," before anyone had even broken one yet. The engraving on the stone or the ink, whatever they wrote with, hadn't even dried, and God said, "Build an altar."
The point was never that these things could earn your relationship with God. He knew you were going to fail. He knew I was going to fail. He said, "Every time you fail, I want you to sacrifice to me so that you associate sin and sacrifice together, because it's going to point ultimately to the great sacrifice that's coming, which is my Son." The Old Testament was never some book saying, "Hey, if you do these things, then you can have a relationship with God" or "Keep these rules or else you have to reconcile." That's insane.
"Here's the law," and then "Build an altar," because no one can keep it. That's what God says. Jesus looks at this man who has bought the lie that "If I keep the commandments, then I can have a relationship with God," and he says, "You've missed it." As I said, the gospel says eternal life is not something you achieve; it's something you receive, because it is not what you do. The man asked the wrong question. "What must I do to inherit eternal life?"
The question over and over is "Who must I believe in? What must I receive in order to inherit eternal life?" The gospel is not about what you do; it's about who you are in relationship with or who you know. Not long ago, I was invited to go to… Shortly after the Jerry World got built here in Dallas, this massive stadium… I had some friends who had a suite. They owned a suite inside of it, so I got a chance to go with their family.
It wasn't just the up-high suites. It was suites I didn't even know existed. There are suites that are on the ground floor where you step out of your suite and walk up onto the field. I'm going there, and we park in this special parking garage. It's like, "Dude, I didn't even know this existed." Everywhere you look, it's like Dallas' Who's Who. It's like, "These are not my people. A lot of shiny people in here."
Walking around and seeing all of it, and it's crazy, mind-blowing stuff. Like, all the food we ate inside of the suite was just… Have you ever been to a place that's so nice you're like, "Do you guys do 'to go' boxes or anything?" It was like filet mignon. They're like, "Sir, if we don't have something you like, just tell us. We'll make any of it." It's like, "I don't think I'm ever leaving here." It just was one thing after the next. It was amazing.
Then at some point we got to walk up onto the field, and you're like 10 feet away. You're like, "Dude, there's Tony. There he is, Tony Romo. He's throwing it around and still not winning." It's this crazy, surreal experience. It was this amazing deal. I remember thinking, "Bro, this is crazy. They have to be thinking, 'Who is that guy? What is he doing in here? There's some imposter amongst us. We can tell because he's not dressed like us.'"
Then realizing, "I have every right to be here. Not because I deserve it, not because I earned it, not because I paid for it, but because I'm with their son, because of who I'm with." In the same way, that's what Christianity says. The reason you can have eternal life and you have access to the suite of heaven is because you are with the Son, the Son of God. What you have been given access to is far greater than any suite we could experience in this life.
The only way you can have access to God, have access to eternal life with him is because you're associated with the Son. The Bible says when you trust in Jesus, you are placed in Christ, that he no longer looks at you and sees you. He sees all the righteousness of God. That's what the Bible teaches as it relates to you. He doesn't see your sin.
Whatever you did today, if you're a Christian and you're in Christ, you are the righteousness of God. Think about that. Because of what you do? Because of who you are with, who you are associated with: Jesus. That's the message of Christianity. Conclusion: There's no one who's good, and the goal is not to be good. He came to make dead people alive.
Resisting God's will reflects areas where we don't believe God is as good as he says. Some of you need to hear and be reminded tonight or you need to hear for the first time you can't save yourself. Only Jesus saves. If you're ever going to have that eternal life, it's going to come by doing what this young man didn't do: trusting in Jesus.
The irony of the whole story is Jesus is like 32 years old. He's sitting there, and he's looking eyeball to eyeball with this guy. He's probably about his age. There are some really striking similarities if you think about it. They're both young. We're told the young man was rich. Is there anyone who has ever lived richer than Jesus? No. He's the richest there has ever been. All things are his. This man owned a house and some stuff. Jesus owned all of it, everything.
This young man was a ruler. He had some authority and influence. Jesus was also a ruler. He ruled over not just some synagogue…over all things. Jesus is the ultimate rich young ruler. He's greater, more true, and he's a rich young ruler who was willing to do what this young ruler was not: go to greater lengths out of the expression of his love to sacrifice everything. "I'll lay down even my life." That's what the Bible says.
Christ became infinitely more poor, was as rich as you could be, and left the riches of heaven to become poor so that in him you who are poor might become rich. He has given himself despite the fact that it's to people who hold on to things, who hold on to relationships, who hold on to their method of dating, who hold on to anxiety, who hold on to all kinds of different things that only hurt them, that if they will just let go of there will come a day where they look back and are like, "I can't even believe I was tempted to hold on to that."
Despite all of that, he came and died. He laid all of it aside for you, for me, for this young man who never even trusted in him as far as we know. He's the richest of all, the ruler of all, and the Savior of all who will trust in him. Let me pray.
Father, you are worthy of all…all of our lives, our hearts, ourselves, our stuff, our time, our years. We confess we have divided hearts. We have divided minds. We have chased after idols and sin. We've looked for security in money. We've looked for identity in relationships. We have despaired over circumstances rather than trusted you, and we are in desperate need of you winning more ground in our hearts. So we ask you to do that, God. We invite you here, and we invite you to take more ground in our hearts. God, start with me.
Would you be the ruler of our lives, our stuff, ourselves? I pray for anyone who has never trusted in you, God, that tonight you would do what only you can do, which is save. Awaken them to the reality that they have bought the lie, just like this young man, that if they're just good enough, if they just live enough consecutive days doing some good stuff, you'll love them and they can have certainty with you, or if they'll just go a long enough time without whatever sin they feel like has owned them, then you'll love them. Break through that wall. We worship you now in song, amen.