Summary: What makes a man a fool? And what could this young fool have done to actually inherit eternal life?
OPEN: On April 1st 1976 British astronomer Patrick Moore made an announcement on BBC Radio 2: “At 9:47 a.m. today there will be a ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ astronomical event occurring.”
The planet Pluto would pass behind Jupiter, he said, temporarily causing a gravitational alignment that would counteract and lessen the Earth’s own gravity. Astronomer Patrick Moore explained that if people were to jump in the air at the exact moment that this planetary alignment occurred, they would experience a strange floating sensation.
When 9:47 AM arrived, BBC Radio 2 began to receive 100s of phone calls from listeners claiming to have felt the sensation. One woman even reported that she and her 11 friends had risen from their chairs and floated around the room.
It was an April Fool’s joke.
Then about 7 yrs ago (2005) April 1st the media reported that NASA had discovered water on Mars and that they had actual pictures on the official NASA website. Those who went to the website to check it out, saw this picture: (picture of a glass of water balanced on a chocolate Mars bar)
APPLY: Now, what is it that makes an April Fool joke funny?
(Someone shouted out “fools”, which is technically correct, I guess)
It’s when someone can be fooled into believing something that’s not true.
In the incidences I just cited (about Jupiter/Pluto and about Mars) people were made to believe something about the HEAVENS that wasn’t true.
And in our story today, we encounter a young man who believed something about HEAVEN that wasn’t true.
And what he believed made him worse than an April fool.
What he believed might very well have made him an Eternal Fool.
Now, before we get to what he believed that was NOT true, let’s first understand what he believed that WAS true.
Notice what this man does
“As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him” (vs. 17)
He RUNS up to Jesus.
Why does he do that?
Well, when was the last time you ran?
If you’re like me, you ran because you were in a hurry.
You needed to do something/get somewhere and you needed to run.
This man RAN to Jesus because he needed to get somewhere… to Jesus
And he needed to get something – something he was sure Jesus had.
But what was it that Jesus had that this man needed so badly?
Well, look at his first question:
“What must I do to inherit eternal life?" verse 17
Now, that’s kind of a bizarre question for him to ask
I mean - think about it.
This man would seem to be a shoe-in for salvation.
· He’s young, rich and professional
He’s not a near-do-well. He doesn’t live off others. He may very well, be handsome, and likable and an accomplished businessman.
· But he’s HUMBLE (he kneels before Jesus).
· And he’s EAGER to know what he needs to do to please God.
· On top of that he’s a highly MORAL man.
He strives to keep the 10 commandments. In fact he believes he’s kept those commandments ever since he was a boy.
Even Jesus likes him.
Mark 10:21 says that “Jesus looked at him and loved him.”
This rich young ruler is so impressive that when Jesus says: “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." Mark 10:25 - and seems to use him as an example of the difficulty of entering heaven - His disciples can’t understand it!
They ask: "Who then can be saved?" Mark 10:26
I mean – if this guy can’t do it, who can????
But this rich young ruler BELIEVED all the right things
1. He believed that he was lost (He doubted he had eternal life).
2. He believed that he needed to DO something to please God (“what must I DO?).
3. And he believed that Jesus could give him the answers he so desperately sought.
But his problem was – he was a FOOL.
He walked away from the only one who could answer his question.
And he walked away because he believed something about Heaven that was not true.
What he believed was that he could get into heaven while putting his money before God. But he was seriously and foolishly wrong about that.
ILLUS: One man once observed:
“I always point out that the man’s sin was not that he had money, but rather that money had him. In a sense his god was wealth. He was self sufficient.” (Paul Humphrey, Sermoncentral.com)
How do we know money was his god?
Because Jesus pointed it out to him (and to us) in a very clever way.