ENTERING THE KINGDOM OF GOD REQUIRES A SENSE OF NEEDINESS AND DEPENDENCE VS ENTITLEMENT AND SOPHISTICATION
[ENTERING THE KINGDOM OF GOD CAN BE INCREDIBLY EASY OR INCREDIBLY DIFFICULT]
In our circles we are quick to criticize what we have termed “Easy Believism”. We reject the notion that one can accept Jesus as merely a Get-Out-of-Hell card while refusing to bow the knee to His authority as Lord and God. So we turn to passages like this one about the rich, young ruler and demonstrate how the evangelistic approach of Jesus is so unlike the approach of those today who would try to sweep all such Seekers into the kingdom indiscriminately.
Yet the value of today’s message is the balance that the teaching of Jesus provides as we set side by side the contrast between these two incidents that are recorded by Matthew, Mark and Luke. This is why I don’t want to preach on these two incidents in separate sermons. They must be seen together to bring out the contrast that Jesus is presenting.
In some sense entering the kingdom of God can be incredibly easy … while in another sense it can be incredibly difficult. It all depends on your attitude and orientation in coming to Jesus.
Remember the earlier teaching in Mark 4 ragarding the Parable of the Soils; we have those different types of soil reflected here in Mark 10
Parunak: 10:1-31, three encounters by the way.
These illustrate the soils once again:
a> Roadside: Pharisees seeking to trap him.
b> Good Soil: children with their simple faith.
c> Thorny Soil: rich man clinging to his wealth. [no rocky soil here — persecution]
Someone with divided allegiance. The clearest example yet of thorny soil, drawn away by “the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things.”
Often the sticking point in presenting the gospel to someone is getting them to honestly and sincerely come to that point of brokenness where they reject the notion of their inherent goodness and come to grips with their own bankruptcy and neediness. There can be no message of Good News until that sense of a need for a Savior has been established.
I. (:13-16) ENTERING THE KINGDOM OF GOD REQUIRES A SENSE OF NEEDINESS AND DEPENDENCE – SO SIMPLE AND EASY
EXAMPLE OF A CHILD
A. (:13) Pattern of Exclusivity Practiced by the Disciples
“And they were bringing children to Him so that He might touch them;
and the disciples rebuked them.”
We probably picture the Moms bringing their little infants to Jesus here … but the masculine plural pronoun is used here = “them” – probably the fathers bringing the children – or both parents together [good Father’s Day message]
Verb tense –– imperfect – action in process — this was happening over and over; not a one-time occurrence; iterative effect
How old were these children? A mix for sure
Copeland: Mark uses a word (paidia) that can mean children up to twelve, while Luke uses a word (brephos) that indicates infants – Lk 18:15
Mark later says Jesus “took them up in His arms”, suggestive of infants or young ones – Mk 10:15
This was not a surprising action on the part of parents who wanted the best for their children;
What would be the expected benefit of Jesus touching them? They had seen power go out from Jesus and what His touch had accomplished in other settings
– Peter’s mother-in-law healed of fever – Mark 131 – touched her and raised her up
– Touching and healing the leper in Mark 1
But here the children are not sick; more like the blessing that the Jewish patriarchs had the authority to communicate to their children
Simply seeking whatever blessing Jesus could dispense; in our day would be accompanied with a photo opp
Edwards: The word for “rebuke” is a severe description, used elsewhere in Mark of exorcisms (1:25; 3:12; 9:25), opponents of God’s will (4:39; 8:30-33), or of outright censure (10:13, 48). Like Peter, the disciples “do not have in mind the thing of God, but the things of men” (8:33).
B. (:14-15) Principle of Childlike Neediness and Dependence (vs. Sophistication)
“But when Jesus saw this, He was indignant and said to them, ‘Permit the children to come to Me; do not hinder them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it at all.’”
“indignant” — Aroused to anger; vent oneself in expressed displeasure
“hinder them” – 9:39 still had not learned their lesson; disciples should have been facilitating access to Jesus and the blessings He could freely provide; not hindering access
Sophistication – as a result of education, worldly experience . . . Vs. helplessness, needy
Edwards: In this story children are not blessed for their virtues but for what they lack: they come only as they are – small, powerless, without sophistication, as the overlooked and dispossessed of society. . . Whatever a child receives, he or she receives by grace on the basis of sheer neediness rather than by any merit inherent in him or herself.
“such as these”
Parunak: This passage is sometimes cited to prove infant baptism (Westminster Confession, ch. 28, art. 4) or the salvation of infants, but note the emphasis that the Lord here places on the fact that these youngsters “come to” and “receive” him. They are not infants, but young people capable of repentance and faith. (But there were infants among them, Lk 18:15 brefos)
Mark Copeland: Some use this passage to support infant baptism:
a. Though the earliest mention of infant baptism is around 200 A.D.
b. It began only after the doctrine of original sin developed, that infants are born in sin
c. The practice increased as baptism became viewed as a sign or seal of the covenant God has with His people, akin to circumcision – cf. Gen 17:10-12
d. This connection is further assumed from Paul’s mention of baptism as a spiritual circumcision – cf. Col 2:11-12
e. Yet both here and in Colossians, it is reading into the text (eisegesis) what is not there
Contrary to Biblical evidence regarding baptism and the new covenant:
a. There is no real evidence of infant baptism in the scriptures
b. The guilt of sin is not inherited – Eze 18:20
c. Baptism requires faith and repentance, of which infants are incapable – Mk 16:16; Ac
d. In the new covenant, no one has to be taught to know the Lord; unlike the old covenant where infants had to be taught to know the Lord (infant baptism would make that distinction of the new covenant meaningless) – cf. He 8:6-13
e. Paul’s comparison of baptism to circumcision pertains to the act of cutting away, not of being a seal or sign of the covenant – Col 2:11-12
MacArthur wants to take this passage as the key text on what happens to all infants before age of accountability – answering the question of whether or not they all go to heaven????
Stay on point with the principle Jesus is trying to teach here
1) the kingdom of God is for the weak, the helpless and the unimportant
2) unless we receive the kingdom of God on that basis we will never enter it
C. (:16) Picture of Divine Blessing
“And He took them in His arms and began blessing them, laying His hands upon them.”
Jesus did more than just touch the children – took them in His arms and blessed them
Constable: Mark also wrote that Jesus “took” the children “in His arms” and blessed them fervently (Gr. kateulogei). This was the act of a father in Jewish life (cf. Gen. 27:38). This Greek word appears only here in the New Testament. The disciples viewed the children as individuals unworthy of Jesus’ attention, but Jesus saw them as important in their own right and possessing important qualities that adults need to cultivate. Mark recorded eight times that Jesus touched someone, and in each case the effect was beneficial (cf. 1:41; 3:10; 5:28, 41; 6:56; 7:32; 8:22; 10:13).
Song “Just as I Am” – that is how we must come
II. (:17-27) ENTERING THE KINGDOM OF GOD CAN BE INCREDIBLY DIFFICULT – THE OBSTACLE OF ENTITLEMENT AND SOPHISTICATION –
EXAMPLE OF RICH YOUNG RULER
A. (:17-20) Enthusiasm Regarding Eternal Life
1. (:17) Seeker Mentality
“And as He was setting out on a journey, a man ran up to Him and knelt before Him, and began asking Him, ‘Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?’”
Constable: The young man thought he could obtain the kingdom with works and self-assertion, not as a little child. . . Mark and Luke wrote for Gentiles for whom “inheriting” clarified what was in the rich young ruler’s mind. He was talking about getting something that he as a Jew thought that he had a right to obtain because of his ethnic relationship to Abraham.
Mark Copeland: In our text, we read of a rich man who was so right, yet wrong…
a. He came to the right person – Mk 10:17
b. He asked the right questions – Mk 10:17
c. He certainly received the right answers – Mk 10:19-21
d. But in the end, he made the wrong decision – Mk 10:22
2. (:18-19) Slap in the Face
a. (:18) Understand the Person of God
“And Jesus said to him, ‘Why do you call Me good?
No one is good except God alone.’”
Don’t make reference to the person of God in some careless or undiscerning fashion — make sure you understand who you are dealing with …
b. (:19) Understand the Requirements of God
“You know the commandments, Do not murder, Do not commit adultery,
Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.”
3. (:20) Superficial Commitment
“And he said to Him, ‘Teacher, I have kept all these things from my youth up.’”.
Constable: At age 12, a Jewish boy became a “son of the covenant” (Heb. bar miswah, from which comes Bar Mitzvah). The Jews regarded themselves as responsible for their obedience to the Law from that age on. It is probably that the man meant he had observed the Law from the age of 12.
B. (:21-22) Exposure of Sinful Priorities that are Obstacles to Eternal Life
1. (:21) Acid Test
“And looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him, and said to him, ‘One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess, and give to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.’”
Compassion of the Lord for the lost
Constable: He was trusting in his wealth, wealth he probably viewed as evidence that his good works made him acceptable to God. The Old Testament taught that God normally blessed the righteous with physical prosperity (e.g., Job 1:10; 42:10; Ps. 128:1-2; Isa. 3:10). He needed to abandon that essentially self-confident faith, and he needed to trust in and follow Jesus. He had also made wealth his god rather than God. His reluctance to part with it revealed his idolatry. By selling all he had, giving it to the poor, and following Jesus—he would confess his repudiation of confidence in self and affirm his trust in Jesus. Then he would “have treasure in heaven,” something that would last forever.
2. (:22) Abject Failure
“But at these words his face fell, and he went away grieved,
for he was one who owned much property.”
C. (:23-27) Explanation of the Degree of Difficulty in Obtaining Eternal Life
1. (:23-24a) Degree of Difficulty Stated
“And Jesus, looking around, said to His disciples,
‘How hard it will be for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God!’ And the disciples were amazed at His words.”
2. (:24b-25) Degree of Difficulty Emphasized by Way of Illustration
“But Jesus answered again and said to them, ‘Children, how hard it is to enter 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 the kingdom of God.’”
Speaking of Impossibility here
3. (:26-27) Degree of Difficulty Does Not Apply to God’s Saving Power
1. (:26) Bar Seems Set Too High Humanly Speaking
“And they were even more astonished and said to Him,
‘Then who can be saved?’”
2. (:27) Barrier Only Broken by the Sovereign Power of God
“Looking upon them, Jesus said, ‘With men it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God.’”
Parunak: the Lord confirms that salvation is impossible, unless God intervenes. God is the only one who can deliver sinful people from the bondage in which their own lusts hold them.
Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector – Luke 18:8-14
What a contrast!