Summary: Jesus teaches His disciples the proper place for their relationships, possessions and even their own lives.

The Right Place

Mark 10:23-31

• There is a lot of talk about values.

• It seems in our relativistic world, values depend upon the situation.

• However, the Bible has values that do not change.

Ill. A group of friends went deer hunting and paired off in twos for the day. That night one of the hunters returned alone, staggering under an eight-point buck.

"Where's Harry?" he was asked.

"Harry had a stroke of some kind. He's a couple of miles back up the trail."

"You left Harry laying there, and carried the deer back?"

"Well," said the hunter, "I figured no one was going to steal Harry."

• After the young rich ruler left Jesus sad, because he had many possessions, Jesus saw the opportunity to teach kingdom values.

Mar 10:23 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!"

• Jesus posed this question to get the disciples to begin thinking.

• Jesus had just told the man he lacked one thing. “Go and sell all you possessions and give to the poor and follow me.”

• This was not what the man lacked, but would reveal what was lacking in his life.

• However, if you had been a disciple and heard it, there was a strong possibility that you would miss the intended message.

• This young rich ruler would walk away troubled and contemplate the words of Jesus.

• While he thought and prayed about it, the Holy Spirit would reveal to him the real obstacle in his heart.

• However, the disciples would be less likely to think it through all the way, having troubles of their own.

• This took further instructions.

Mar 10:24 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!

• The reason they were amazed, of course, is speculation.

• However, is clear that Jesus seldom, if ever, spoke of finances being an issue of saving faith.

• What does being rich or being poor have to do with trusting in Jesus?

• As a matter of fact, it is later verified that the disciples expected Jesus to take over the world as a king, with pomp and splendor, and that all rich men and poor men would enter His kingdom.

• He continues….

Mar 10:25 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 is a common expression of the day. It was probably used about Jesus’ teachings by His critics, the Pharisees, Sadducees and scribes.

• It was often used to indicate a difficult or absurd teaching.

• Sometimes, it was said of an elephant passing through the eye of a needle and sometimes it was a camel.

• It would imply that it took a miracle for this to happen.

• One of our members said he could make a camel pass through the eye of a needle if he had enough time and a big enough blender.

• Otherwise, it would take a miracle.

• Consider this: it would not be a miracle for a rich man to sell all he had and follow Jesus.

• That could be done in the flesh. Many cult leaders have demanded this of their followers without a miracle.

• However, for the young rich ruler to do this, there would have to be a miraculous change in his heart, a regeneration.

• He would be unseating a god, an idol in his heart that was the center of all of his understanding.

• He needed salvation, a miracle of grace through faith.

• A couple of erroneous teachings have been used to alter this teaching of salvation by grace through faith.

• One, some have said the “eye of a needle” is a tax gate for merchants.

• It was said to be designed so that a camel could pass, but had to be totally unloaded.

• They say this is what Jesus meant.

• That would mean that if the young man had sold his goods and gave to the poor without a heart change, he would be in the kingdom.

• Salvation by works. Sorry, that is not the meaning.

• The needle gate was not utilized in Jerusalem at this time, but in other cities centuries later.

• There is a good textual reason for not believing this is the meaning, as we will show.

• Another thing is, the word for camel is similar to the word for cable rope in the Hebrew.

• Although it seems more viable for a cable rope to be threaded into a needle, it is no less impossible.

• However, the cultural figure of speech often used an elephant or a camel.

• The similarity to the world camel and cable rope is probably the reason for its origin as a figure of speach and the explanation of how the absurd phrase began.

• Someone may have said, “I might as well be trying to thread a cable rope than this thread because I am having no luck at all.”

• Someone else could have commented, “Or a camel” (since they sounded similar in Hebrew), and everybody laughed heartily. Then it was an inside joke, and later a figure of speach. (It could happen).

• But Jesus meant a live camel into a tiny needle eye. Note the reaction.

Mar 10:26 And they were exceedingly astonished, and said to him, "Then who can be saved?"

• What is a rich man? What had Jesus taught made a person rich?

• The disciples where thinking, “From all that Jesus had taught us, if it was that impossible for a rich man to be part of the kingdom, this brings our status into question.”

• The mere possession of riches did not make that much difference in a man’s spiritual condition, surely.

• So who can be saved? The poor? The middle class? Or is the line drawn at the upper middle class?

Mar 10:27 Jesus looked at them and said, "With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God."

• The impossible is not impossible for God. Impossible doesn’t apply to our Father.

• It would take a miracle for any man to enter the kingdom of God, but that was God’s very plan.

• It would take the miracle of regeneration, not the shedding of wealth.

• That is what it takes for every man, for all men were fallen from kingdom-worthiness because of sin (Ref. Rom 3:23).

Mar 10:28 Peter began to say to him, "See, we have left everything and followed you."

• Peter, still grasping to understand the meaning, pointed out the difference between themselves and the young rich ruler.

• Truly, they had, for the past three years, put Jesus and the Kingdom ahead of all other values in their lives (except for the pretender, Judas).

• He was first in their hearts and that showed in their lives.

Mar 10:29-30 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, 30 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.

• There is a variation in how the different gospel writers penned these words.

• In light of their intended audience of each gospel book and what applies, this is understandable.

• For us Gentiles, this is a very good passage for us to focus upon.

• Jesus points out the proper place for values in our lives.

I. The Proper Place of our relationships.

• There is no doubt that home, including brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers and children, as well as grandparents and aunts and uncles, are important.

• Jesus never taught a lack of love for any of these.

• He is talking about the place of God in relations to those relationships.

• Our minds go to Luke 14:25.

• Luk 14:26 "If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.

• The word “miseo” has often been translated hate, but the Hebrew word that was translated into Greek “sâné” in the Jewish culture meant to “love less”.

• Deuteronomy 21:15-17, for instance, taught that if a man had two wives and the “hated” wife, or the one what was not the husband’s favorite, had the first born son, that son would still have the rights of the firstborn.

• Just because a son wasn’t from the favorite wife didn’t mean he would not have proper standing.

• The same word is used when the Bible said God loved Jacob and hated Esau. Jacob had favor from God, but Esau did not have favor from God because of his self-dependence and rejection of grace and humility.

• Please focus on the true message of this verse.

• Anyone who places the relationship with Jesus Christ first and is truly willing to part from any other relationship for Jesus Christ, will enjoy all of these relationship 100 fold more in this life, which is nothing compared to what it shall be in glory.

• Following Christ does not dictate a departure from all other relationship, but the heart who is so obedient to Christ that his is willing to, if God so calls, follow God away from these relationships will find these other relationship more enjoyable.

II. The proper place of possessions.

• We have a tendency to place what we have (our land and wealth) before God.

• This was seen in the life of the young, rich ruler.

• It can quickly and without notice arise in our lives.

• One has said, “It is often that the things we possess will in the end possess us.”

• This is so true. And when they do, we begin to lose our enjoyment of them.

• Jesus said, “In this life, if we can keep the things God supplies in its proper place in our priorities, we will enjoy them so much more, 100 fold.”

Mar 10:31 But many who are first will be last, and the last first."

III. The Proper Place of Our Persons

• The first shall be last and the last will be first.

• This has many applications that are notable.

• Let me mention a few for our deeper Bible students, but I want to focus on the contextual one most.

• First, the young rich ruler received the best in this life while the disciples did not have or gave up that opportunity.

• They will be first in eternity while the young wealthy ruler will suffer loss.

• Some of you have more challenges in life, whether in finances, relationships, pain and suffering, etc…

• I believe this means that you will have it better; a higher standing in Heaven.

• No one will have a higher standing that Jesus, who was born in a barn, slept in a feed trough, was despised and rejected, betrayed, falsely accused, beaten and mocked in complete innocence, and died the most horrible death.

• Yet, He reigns as King of kings and Lord of lords as our example.

• Second, the gospel came to the Jews first, and then the Gentiles.

• Now in our dispensation of grace, we see the Gentile Church playing a primary role, despite its second-place start.

• Study of the Millennial reign and eternity, we see that predominant place of the Church; the second become first.

• Obviously this is a principle. However, it is not more clearly understood than in this way in this passage:

• Php 2:3-4 “Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

• In other words “the first will be last and the last will be first.”

• Rom 12:10 “Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.”

• Another way to say that is, “the first will be last and the last will be first.”

• Someone has well said the key to joy is J. O. Y. (Jesus, others, and then yourself).

• Yet another way of saying, “the first will be last and the last will be first.”

• Ill. In recent years a head coach divorced his wife of 26 years when he left coaching a college team to become head coach in the National Football League. He said he needed a wife while coaching on the college level for social functions and to show families that he would be looking out for their sons. In pro football, however, she was an unnecessary accouterment and a distraction to winning. He said winning football was his number one priority and his two sons second. How tragic!

• In contrast to this, Tom Landry, former coach of the Dallas cowboys said, "The thrill of knowing Jesus is the greatest thing that ever happened to me ... I think God has put me in a very special place, and He expects me to use it to His glory in everything I do ... whether coaching football or talking to the press, I'm always a Christian ... Christ is first, family second and football third." (Source unknown, copied