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Summary: Exposition of Mark 10:17-31 about the demands of the gospel upon life and our inability to merit eternal life

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Text: Mark 10:17-31, Title: The One Thing Lacked, Date/Place: NRBC, 3/9/08, PM

A. Opening illustration: Talk about the “one thing” in the movie City Slickers, “The call to follow Jesus does not constitute an additional obligation in life, but rather judges, replaces, and subordinates all obligations and allegiances to the One who says, ‘Follow Me.’”

B. Background to passage: Jesus is still ministering through Perea and heading toward Jerusalem, when while heading down the road, and rich young ruler of the synagogue pushed his way through the crowds and asked him the question that every believer dreams of, right? Kinda, but Jesus uses this question to teach a very dangerous lesson, not only to the crowds, but to his own disciples.

C. Main thought: in the text we will see the central tenet of the gospel and salvation as well as one of the greatest hindrances to it in our lives.

A. The Wrong Question (v. 17)

1. This rich young ruler of the synagogue comes running (a shameful thing) and kneels at the feet of Jesus, and asks a sensible question based on his upbringing and understanding. He addressed Jesus as “good teacher” commending himself as also being “good.” Of course, it was almost blasphemy to address a human as good. There is a precedent for this kind of question in Jewish literature, but the answer given in such a case was another list of things to do. But what makes this question the wrong one is that it assumes that something can be done to secure eternal life. The implication is that we can merit or earn salvation.

2. John 6:28, Eph 2:8-9,

3. Illustration: story about the marine having to be carried to the extraction point,

4. Sometimes because of our reputation as Baptists, unbelievers think that the way that you get to heaven is by doing things. There are certain things that you don’t do that are bad—murder, adultery, drinking, homosexuality, etc. And so the way to get to heaven is to avoid those things. Oh, and there are some thing that we imply to others that they must do—go to church, pray, be baptized. And these things will help you earn a spot in the Kingdom. Grace is a hard thing to comprehend as humans, but you must do your diligence in letting people know that their acceptance into the kingdom is not based on how they act. Don’t confuse this with the fact that truly converted people will act differently, but not because they are earning for themselves a place. It is not about doing, but about being.

B. Truth in Love (v. 18-22)

1. One writer wrote that Jesus would have probably failed evangelism at many mainstream bible colleges and seminaries with this response. Because he first insulted him about his address as “good teacher.” Then he proceeded to give him a list of commands to keep. Probably trying to reveal his sin, but the young man claimed to have kept them all from his youth (the time at which Jews were held accountable to the community to keep the law). And by the way, the Jews spoke often, and seriously about people keeping all the commands. And note that the text states that Jesus unconditionally loved him. But even granting this spiritual report card as legit, which it probably wasn’t, Jesus still said that he lacked one thing—to follow Jesus with radical commitment, total trust, and reckless abandonment. The core of Christianity is absolute love, devotion, and loyalty toward Jesus. Anything less is not authentic Christianity. It wasn’t necessarily the money, although money is indicated as a serious threat to people surrendering all to Jesus. Jesus doesn’t require us to sell all that we have materially, but Jesus does require that we be willing to. That He is the number one love and loyalty in your life.


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