ENTERING THE KINGDOM OF GOD

Mark 10:13-31

 

There can be no greater question posed than the one asked within this chapter. "What must one do to enter into the Kingdom of God?"

 

A. CHILDREN AND THE KINGDOM.

13 And they were bringing children to Him so that He might touch them; but the disciples rebuked them.

14 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.

15 "Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all."

16 And He took them in His arms and began blessing them, laying His hands on them. (Mark 10:13-16).

There is a contrast to be seen in this paragraph with the preceding one. In both cases, there is a FAMILY emphasis.

Mark 10:1-12

Mark 10:13-16

Divorce and Remarriage

Children and the Kingdom

The Pharisees bring a question

The Disciple attempt to stop children

Sanctity of marriage

Sanctity of children

Children have a habit of crashing adult parties. That is what happened here.

The story begins when some parents came to Jesus with their children, seeking simply that He might touch them. Their action is described in the imperfect tense, indicating that they were continually bringing children.

The word for "children" in this passage is generic and could be used to refer to children of all ages.

The disciples intervened. After all, there was work to be done and miracles to be performed and sermons to be preached and demons to be cast out.

They thought that only "important people" should see Jesus. Certainly there was no time for something as mundane and as useless as a bunch of soiled diapers and running noses.

By the way, that is one of the lies of the feminist movement. It says to women, "You donít want to limit your life to something as mundane and as insignificant as taking care of a child, do you? Not when you can have a career and independence and a life that really counts!" What it is saying is that the raising of children isnít very important. Iíll bet you never thought of the disciples as being feminists. But in this regard, they were. And Jesus rebukes them for it.

Jesus was indignant. He became emotionally involved. Whereas the disciples had been rebuking the parents, now Jesus rebuked the disciples. Why? It is because the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.

This passage has been called the Magna Charta of children. It reflects their "bill of rights." In this age where abortion is a common phenomenon, it teaches us the high value of children. But that is not all that it teaches. It also teaches us about the KINGDOM. And I believe that this is the primary reason that it occurs here in the book of Mark.

You see, a child has a certain quality which is necessary for anyone who would desire to enter into the Kingdom of God. That is what Jesus said. "Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all."

In what way must we receive the kingdom like a child? What is it that draws the Lord to a child? I want to suggest several things:

1. A Quality of Trust.

Have you ever seen a child leap into his fatherís arms? That child doesnít say, "Are you certain that you have the right timing and motor control to catch me in a safe manner in accordance with OSHA Standards?" There is complete trust and abandonment.

2. A Quality of Powerlessness.

There is nothing so powerless as a baby. The smaller the child, the more helpless that child is. The more that parent takes an active role in feeding and changing and nursing and burping that child.

3. A Quality of Teachableness.

The mind and soul of a child is a sponge, ready to soak up knowledge. You know the familiar saying, "You canít teach an old dog new tricks." We grow up and we become set in our ways and we become unteachable. And if we ever become unteachable, then we cease our spiritual growth.

Jesus looked at the disciples with their growing sophistication and their doctrinal knowledge and He pointed to these children and said, "You need to be like that."

He had already tried to teach them this lesson. Back in Mark 9:36-37, He had taken a child and had told them how important it was to receive such a child. But they had missed it. Instead of receiving these children, they had been on the verge of turning them away.

 

B. A SINCERE QUESTION.

As He was setting out on a journey, a man ran up to Him and knelt before Him, and asked Him, "Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?" (Mark 11:17).

It is no accident that this event is given to us on the heels of the preceding paragraph. They are meant to be a study in contrasts.

Mark 10:13-16

Mark 10:17-23

Children are brought to Jesus

Rich man comes running to Jesus

Helpless and trusting

Depending upon his own good works

They are blessed by Jesus

He turns away from Jesus

"The Kingdom of God belongs to such as these!"

"How hard it is for those who are wealthy to enter the Kingdom of God!"

Notice how this man addressed Jesus. "Good teacher!" That sounds good, but it reveals some erroneous thinking. This man thought that he was a good man talking to another good man. He was wrong on both accounts.

He was wrong in thinking that he was a good person. He may have been good in the eyes of his community. But God doesnít grade on the curve. He had not recognized the depth of his need.

He was also wrong in thinking that Jesus was merely a good teacher. He had not yet seen Jesus as Savior or Lord.

Jesus will move to correct both of these misconceptions. First He will deal with the manís conception of Jesus, showing the man that Jesus cannot merely be a good man - He is either the perfect God-man or else He is a liar.. Then He will deal with the manís conception of his own worthiness.

 

C. A THEOLOGICAL CLARIFICATION.

And Jesus said to him, "Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone. (Mark 11:18).

Some have taken the words of Jesus to be a denial of His divinity. But I would suggest just the opposite. He is taking the manís opening presupposition and moving him to its obvious conclusion.

If Jesus is good

and...

No one is good except God alone

then...

Jesus is God

Do you see what He is doing? He is probing this young man to see whether he is teachable. He is pushing his faith and his teachableness and his sense of his own powerlessness. He is checking to see if this man will come the way a child comes.

D. A LAWFUL ANSWER.

"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.í"

And he said to Him, "Teacher, I have kept all these things from my youth up." (Mark 11:19-20).

Jesus quotes the Law to this man. But He doesnít quote all of the Law. There are some of the Laws which He does not mention. He says nothing of coveting. Or of worshiping God above all other things.

As a result, the young man claims to have kept all these things. Do you see what he is doing? Jesus said that there is none who is good but God alone and the man is claiming to be good in the eyes of the Law.

Jesus

Young Man

"There is none who is good but God alone"

"I have been good according to Godís Law"

In spite of this, Jesus does not call the man out or question his sincerity. To the contrary, Jesus feels love for him.

 

E. A SACRIFICIAL CALL.

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 will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me." (Mark 11:21).

We do not often read in the Scriptures of Jesus feeling love for a particular individual. But he did here. Why?

He had shown a humility and a proper respect by coming and kneeling (10:17). He had shown a sincere desire by the fact that he ran to Jesus (10:17). He seems to have been desperate with an inner nervousness over his eternal state.

Do you know people like that? Can you empathize with his lost and lonely condition?

What Jesus says next, He says out of a heart of love for this man. Speaking the truth in love. That is what Jesus is all about.

But this brings us to a key question. Why didnít Jesus simply say, "Give up your quest for personal goodness and believe only in Me"?

He did. Following Jesus is what faith is all about. Rest and receive. An essential element of this kind of faith is surrender. If something is standing in the way of following Jesus, then I must choose.

I am told that hunters used to trap monkeys with a simple, yet effective trap. They would take a hollowed-out gourd and drill into it a hole. Inside the gourd they would place and orange. The monkey would come along and reach inside to get the orange. But once he had the orange in his hand, he was unable to withdraw it from the hole. The monkey had a choice to make. He could let the orange go and withdraw his hand and be free. Or he could hold onto the orange and remain a captive.

Many people today are holding on to that which has trapped them. And it is not until they let go that they can experience the freedom that is in Christ Jesus.

Here is the principle. What you own owns you. And you cannot own Christ unless you have renounced your ownership of all else that owns you.

 

F. A SORROWFUL DEPARTURE.

But at these words he was saddened, and he went away grieving, for he was one who owned much property. (Mark 11:22).

This man made his choice. He was saddened. He even grieved. But his choice was still to hold onto his possessions rather than to hold onto Christ.

Jesus did not chase after the man. And the solution to Christian problems is not for the church to preach a cheap grace. When the church begins to preach cheap grace, then people stop surrendering to Christ. They become merely unconverted professors.

 

G. A DIFFICULT LESSON.

23 And Jesus, looking around, said to His disciples, "How hard it will be for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God!"

24 The disciples were amazed at His words. But Jesus answered again and said to them, "Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God!

25 "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 11:23-25).

Jesus uses the retreat of the rich man to teach a lesson to his disciples.

He has already used a child to show them what kind of man DOES enter into the kingdom. Now he uses the rich man as an example of the kind of man that does NOT enter into the kingdom.

Notice how Jesus addresses His disciples. He calls them "children." This is significant in light of what He has recently said about the necessity of coming as a child.

The disciples were amazed at this teaching. It went completely contrary to the popular theology of the day. The theology of the day was prosperity theology. They reasoned that rich people are rich because God has blessed them.

Therefore someone who was rich was a demonstration of the blessings of God. There was a saying, "God loves the poor, but He helps the rich."

But Jesus said that it is hard for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. Paul says the same thing in 1 Corinthians - that there are not many wise or mighty or noble who enter the kingdom (1:26).

Jesus compares it with a camel trying to go through the eye of a needle. I have a hard enough time trying to get a piece of thread through the eye of a needle. But a camel! It is not only difficult. It is impossible. And that is okay, because God delights in doing the impossible.

 

H. THE GOD OF IMPOSSIBILITIES.

They were even more astonished and said to Him, "Then who can be saved?"

Looking at them, Jesus said, "With people it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God." Mark 10:26-27).

Salvation is impossible in human terms. There is nothing that a man can do to save himself, be he rich, poor or middle class. That is the bad news. But the good news is that God is the God of the impossible.

 

I. A REWARDING PROMISE.

28 Peter began to say to Him, "Behold, we have left everything and followed You."

29 Jesus said, "Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or farms, for My sake and for the gospelís sake, 30 but that he will receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions; and in the age to come, eternal life.

31 "But many who are first will be last, and the last, first." (Mark 10:28-31).

Donít you just love Peter? He picks this opportunity to open mouth and insert foot. Watching this sincere man turn away from Jesus made Peter uncomfortable. And he grew even more uncomfortable as he listens to the teaching of Jesus on how impossible it is for a rich man to be saved. Finally, he can be silent no longer. He declares that he and the other disciples are not like the rich man who refused to give up his riches.

Peter and Andrew gave up their boat and their nets. James and John did the same. Matthew gave up his tax collecting business. Simon the zealot gave up his rebellion. Every one of the disciples gave up something to follow Jesus.

Jesus replies that they shall not go unrewarded. Not only in this life, but in the life to come. The promised rewards are BOTH in the now and the not yet. Notice the things that are promised.

"...houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms..."

In what manner are these things promised? Let me suggest that they are fulfilled in the CHURCH. It is there that we enter into the house of God. It is there that we find a spiritual family made up of brothers and sisters and mothers and children. It is there that we are able to bear fruit for the kingdom. But notice what is also promised.

"...houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with PERSECUTIONS"

Jesus never promised that the Christian life would be easy. He promised a cross before the crown. He called men to count the cost of becoming a Christian. It costs everything that you have and everything that you are.

"But many who are first will be last, and the last, first." (Mark 10:31).

Jesus is describing SERVANTHOOD. To become a member of the Kingdom, one must become a servant, for to become a servant is to take on the character of the King.

Did you notice who was included in this group? Judas Iscariot! The same promise was given to him. If he would follow Jesus to the exclusion of all else, he would be blessed along with the other disciples.

There is a lesson here. It is the lesson of the long haul. The reward is not given to the one who starts the race, but to the one who finishes it.

We are called to offer ourselves as a living sacrifice. The problem with a living sacrifice is that it has a tendency to crawl off the altar. Judas made an initial commitment to follow Jesus. But something got in the way.

Somewhere along the line, he began to treasure THINGS more than he treasured the Lord.

How about you? Perhaps you made a good start, but where is your heart NOW? What is first place in your heart?

 


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