Summary: If you want to be rich in the things that really count, don’t rely on yourself; rely on the Lord and don’t boast about your sacrifices. Then you will not only inherit eternal life, you will be first in God's Kingdom.
Many years ago, a very wealthy man invited Pastor George A. Truett to a dinner on his Texas ranch. After the meal, he took his pastor to a place where they had a good view of the surrounding area.
The rich man pointed north to the oil wells punctuating the landscape and boasted, “25 years ago, I had nothing. Now, as far as you can see, it’s all mine.”
Then he turned around to the south and viewing the sprawling fields of grain, he said, “That’s all mine.”
Turning east towards huge herds of cattle, the rich man bragged, “They’re all mine.”
Then pointing to the west and a beautiful forest, he exclaimed, “That too is all mine!”
The rich man paused expecting his pastor to compliment him on his great success.
But Pastor Truett just placed one hand on the man’s shoulder, and pointing heavenward with the other, said, “How much do you have in that direction?”
The rich man just bowed his head and confessed, “I never thought of that.” (Bible Illustrator #2812-2815, 2/1993.14)
Well, my friends, let’s think about that this morning? How much do we really have in that direction? And how do we get rich in those heavenly things? How do we get rich in the things that really matter not just now but for all eternity? How do we gain an inheritance that lasts forever?
Mark 10:17 As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” (NIV)
Now, this is in stark contrast to the children who came to Jesus in the previous verses (Mark 10:13-16). They in simple faith simply received our Lord’s blessing, and Jesus said, “The kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” On the other hand, this man wants to know what he can DO to inherit eternal life.
He is a self-made man, relying on himself. He worked hard to become rich in this world’s goods. Now He wants to know what work he must do to become rich in the next world. So what does Jesus tell him?
Mark 10:18 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. (NIV)
This man had addressed Jesus in a way that no other Jewish teacher was addressed in that day. Most people simply addressed their teachers as “teacher.” This man called Jesus, “GOOD Teacher.”
So Jesus picks up on that and asks the man, “Why did you call me GOOD? No one is GOOD except God alone.” In a backhanded way, Jesus affirms his deity here, but more than that, Jesus begins to put this man in his place. You see, it will become very evident that this man believes he is good too. But Jesus makes it very clear, “No one is good except God alone. There is none righteous, no not one. All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” In other words, none of us are good enough for heaven. Jesus continues:
Mark 10:19 You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, do not defraud, honor your father and mother.’” (NIV)
These are right out of the 10 commandments, the Law the Lord gave to Moses on Mount Sinai. And that same Law stated, “Keep my decrees and laws, for the man who obeys them will live by them” (Leviticus 18:5). In other words, if you want to live forever, then keep ALL the commandments ALL the time and never ever break a single one of them.
Now, who of us in this room would dare say, “I have kept ALL the commandments ALL the time and have not broken a single one?” None of us would, but look at what this man says.
Mark 10:20 “Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.”
I.e., from the day of his Bar Mitzvah at age 12. From the day he became a son of the law – legally responsible for his own actions – from that day, he claims, he has kept every single commandment perfectly. Now, this is no boast on this man’s part. In his mind, it’s a statement of fact. He really thinks he is good. He really thinks he is blameless, but Jesus knows he is not.
Mark 10:21 says, “Jesus looked at him” – I.e., Jesus looked right through to the core of his being. It’s the same word used in Luke 22, where Peter denies the Lord three times. There it says, “The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter… And he (i.e., Peter) went outside and wept bitterly” (Luke 22:61-62). It was a penetrating look. It was a look that saw way beyond the surface.