Summary: God loves to turn your impossibility into His possibility.
Why It’s Hard to Get Into Heaven
Rev. Brian Bill
March 11-12, 2017
I’ve always been intrigued by impossibilities. Here are some…
• It’s impossible to sneeze with your eyes open.
• It is absolutely impossible to eat just one potato chip.
• It’s impossible for the Chicago Bears to win even with a new quarterback.
• It certainly seems impossible to eat a banana without making a horrible smacking sound. One of my sisters hates this noise so I made sure to master it. Sometimes I would chase her around the house threatening to chew in her ear. To this day Cathy won’t eat them…unbelievably she blames me for her banana aversion.
I almost added another impossibility to this list on Monday when Beth and I tried to put together a new Weber grill I received for my birthday. I knew I was in trouble when the outside of the box contained the phrase, “charcoal grill” in 22 different languages! Probably because it would be impossible to print the assembly guide in this many languages, the booklet inside contained no words – only pictures!
We got stumped at several points. I scrolled through some YouTube videos and found one from a guy who said it took him almost two hours to assemble his grill! While Beth maintained her composure I almost lost my sanctification. We eventually (and by that, I mean Beth) figured it out and I can’t wait to start grilling Johnsonville brats this spring.
In our passage for today Jesus describes how difficult it is for the wealthy to enter the kingdom of God. He goes on to say that it’s impossible for anyone to be saved but then He quickly adds that nothing is impossible with God. Here’s a summary sentence of the sermon: God loves to turn your impossibility into His possibility.
Our text must be understood in context. BTW, we’ll begin a new series after Easter called, “Context” because a text taken out of context is a pretext for a proof text. We’ll look at some of the most misquoted and misunderstood verses in the Bible so that we can apply them accurately in our relational and cultural contexts. We’ll jump back into our study of Mark’s gospel in June.
The context for our text today deals with a first-century celebrity who had many things but because he lacked the one thing he missed everything! He was known as healthy and wealthy. Actually, he did not have great possessions; great possessions had him!
Mark 10:22 vividly describes an individual who was more in love with himself than with God and others: “Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.” The man, who had run up eagerly to Jesus, now shuffles away while an internal storm ravages his soul.
We’ll discover today that Jesus is not against us having money; but when money has us it’s a whole different issue.
As the disciples watched and listened to this interaction, they were in a dilemma because they had bought into prosperity theology. Most people then (and some now) saw possessions as a sign of God’s blessings. It blew their minds that this celebrity who was extremely wealthy was allowed to just walk away from Jesus. Maybe they thought Jesus was making a mistake. This wasn’t in the owner’s manual, was it? But Jesus wasn’t impressed with his portfolio, with his position, with his prominence or by his possessions.
We’re going to unpack three main truths from Mark 10:23-31.
• Salvation is improbable for the wealthy (23)
• Salvation is impossible on our own (24-27)
• Salvation brings incomprehensible benefits (28-31)
1. Salvation is improbable for the wealthy (23). Jesus debriefs with the disciples after this encounter with the sad celebrity who walked away. Look at the beginning of verse 23: “And Jesus looked around…” The idea is that his eyes swept the circle. Have you ever wondered what it must have felt like to have Jesus look at you?
Once Jesus has everyone’s attention, He makes a very bold and counter-cultural statement: “How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” What is it about wealth that makes it so difficult to follow Christ?
• The pursuit of possessions can strangle spiritual life. Matthew 13:22: “…The cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful.”
• The desire to be rich can lead to destruction. 1 Timothy 6:9: “But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.”
Pastor Alan Carr suggests some other problems people run into with their possessions. Riches can become an idol, they often bring false trust, they can bind us too tightly to earth, the pursuit of money can lead to other sins and we can be tempted to hoard what we have.