By Eric Taylor
Pastor, Cedar Hill Baptist Church, Cedar Hill
Focal Passage: Mark 10:13-22
In the passage this week, there are two main thoughts that teach what commitment to Christ looks like. First, when Jesus received the children in Mark 10:13-16, He was teaching His disciples that salvation and entrance into the Kingdom of God is a work of God alone in that we “receive” it by grace through faith alone (Ephesians 2:8-9).
You see, Jesus is not just telling us to have childlike faith. While that can be said, the spiritual truth runs deeper. For example, notice that apart from coming to Him, these children did nothing to merit Jesus’ treatment. In a sense, Jesus destroys the concept of legalistic, works-based salvation, which taught, and still does, that we must do something to earn the right to be children in the Kingdom of God.
These children came to Jesus empty handed, with nothing to offer, yet Jesus “took them in His arms and blessed them.” It is a picture of the wonderful grace of God. In other words, everyone who is saved comes to Christ the same way. They come to Him in faith, empty handed, realizing they cannot earn entrance into the Kingdom of God. As the old hymn says, “Nothing in my hands I bring, simply to Thy cross I cling; naked, come to Thee for dress, helpless, look to Thee for grace: foul, I to the fountain fly, wash me, Savior, or I die.”
Second, in the story of the rich young ruler, Jesus teaches us that while we are saved by grace, we are saved as we completely surrender our lives to Him. Some mistakenly interpret the rich man’s words as less than genuine; some even calling it mockery.
However, there is no evidence that these words were anything but a genuine inquiry into how one “may inherit eternal life.”
Interestingly, Jesus goes straight to the heart of the matter, and the heart of the matter was a matter of the heart for this man.
You see, Jesus calls us all to put aside those things that keep us from genuinely following Him. For this man, it was obviously his wealth. While some make this story a rich versus poor thing, Jesus makes it about a God versus “god” thing. In other words, this man’s god was his money and possessions, and Jesus does not take second place to anyone or anything.
In the story of the little children, Jesus seems to imply that entrance into the Kingdom of God was simple — involving childlike faith. Yet, with the rich man it seems difficult. “How hard will it be …” (Mark 10:23). You see, the problem with wealth and possessions is that it can become addictive, and create within us a kind of selfish self-confidence that breeds an attitude that one does not need God, or in the least one can have God without a willingness to give up the things that keep us from knowing God.
The common theme in each of the stories is the need to inherit eternal life. And we do that when we come to Jesus in complete childlike trust, willing to lose what we think is important to gain what we never thought we needed. We need to give up so that we can find. B&R