Summary: Following His encounter with the rich, young ruler, Jesus discussed the difficulty of salvation for those distracted by pleasures. We are making an investment in something that eventually will pay dividends. Invest wisely!
The Dividends of Life
Mark 10: 23-31
Our text today reveals the benefit of expositional Bible study – considering the Scriptures verse by verse, line by line. While it would be possible to grasp the truth of this text without such an approach, it bears more weight when considered in the context of the preceding verses. The rich, young ruler had come to Jesus seeking eternal life. While outwardly he appeared to be a prime candidate, there was one major problem – he loved his riches more than he desired to serve the Lord. Jesus knew the condition of the young man’s heart, and used this encounter as an opportunity to expound upon an eternal truth the disciples needed to consider. While many had good intentions, few were willing to surrender their lives in service to the Lord. When faced with the choice, they chose to hold on to the life they knew instead of surrendering to Christ.
While the circumstances many be different, this decision continues to face all of humanity. Are we willing to let go of the old life of sin, and the pleasure it brings, in order to follow Jesus? This is a decision that should never be taken lightly. It is the one decision that has eternal implications. The choice we make regarding Jesus will last throughout eternity. The life we live on earth will follow us beyond the grave.
With these thoughts in mind, I want to discuss the lessons within the text as we consider: The Dividends of Life.
I. The Problem with Riches (23-25) – Here Jesus addressed the potential problems associated with having riches in this life. Notice:
A. The Difficulty (23) – And Jesus looked round about, and saith unto his disciples, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God! Following the encounter with the rich, young ruler, Jesus revealed the difficulty those with great wealth have entering the kingdom of God. We will discover in a moment that this is certainly not impossible, but it is frequently difficult for those with great wealth to surrender to the Lord.
Their possession of great wealth and material gain is not the problem. I have known folks who were committed believers, and they had much in this life. The problem is that many do not hold their possessions, but their possessions hold them. They are more committed to their wealth and possessions than anyone or anything else in life.
B. The Despair (24a) – And the disciples were astonished at his words. This statement by Jesus was hard for the disciples to receive. They were “amazed” at the words of Jesus. They were literally “stupefied.” These men did not know what to say; they were at a loss for words.
This is a difficult lesson to consider. The social gospel promoted by the western church has so cheapened the Gospel that most would never imagine such a thing. In fact, many teach that riches are a sign of God’s blessing and the lack thereof is a sure sign of unbelief and doubt. Most don’t like to consider the demands of Christ in regard to receiving salvation. We must be willing to die to ourselves, loving Him more than anything else in life!
C. The Deliberation (24b-25) – But Jesus answereth again, and saith unto them, Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God!  It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. Again Jesus affirmed the difficulty for those with great material wealth to receive salvation. He used the familiar analogy of the camel and the eye of a needle. Some believe the Lord spoke of a literal camel and a literal eye of a needle. (That is the view I hold regarding these words.) Others contend that Jesus spoke of a very small, narrow gate on the city wall that was referred to as the eye of a needle. In my estimation, there would be no difference in either view. Regardless of which eye of a needle Jesus referred, the principle remains the same – it would require a miracle for either to happen. Jesus emphasized the great difficulty of those who trust in riches to ever recognize their need for Christ and believe on Him by faith unto salvation.
II. The Possibility of Redemption (26-27) – Having revealed the great difficulty of those who trust in riches receiving salvation, Jesus declared this was not an impossibility however. Consider:
A. The Perplexity (26) – And they were astonished out of measure, saying among themselves, Who then can be saved? The disciples were greatly perplexed by the words of Jesus. Again they were astonished; this time beyond measure. Christ had struck a nerve that challenged their view regarding salvation. They reasoned if it were that difficult for the rich to be saved, was there really any hope for the average man? Who then could possibly be saved?