These are my teaching notes of the Seeking Jesus teaching I gave at the Cornerstone Church on Sunday, February 24, 2019.
Part 3 of ENTOURAGE. Mark 10:13-23.
INTRODUCTION: WHATEVER YOU DO, GET INTO THE KINGDOM!
The main thing in Mark's Gospel is Jesus and the Kingdom of God. Mark collects stories about the Kingdom and presents them to us to make two points: 1). Jesus is the King and, 2). whatever you do, make sure to get into his Kingdom.
Earlier (9:2-8), Mark told how Jesus went up a mountain and revealed his divine nature. Jesus shone with the glory of God because he is so much more than the carpenter's son, he is the Son of God shining brighter than the sun.
Then (9:14-29), Mark told the story of King Jesus going to war against the kingdom of Satan and driving out a demon from a little boy.
Then (10:1-12), Jesus taught about the Kingdom lifestyle and its impact on marriage.
And that brings us to the stories of the children and the rich man who came to Jesus. Both stories are about King Jesus and how to get into his Kingdom.
This spiritual insights in this story are very important and very urgent. How we respond will have massive impact now and into eternity.
SEEKING - AND FINDING - JESUS
When I was a kid, my grandparents lived in Spain, and we'd visit them in the summers. Every evening, we'd walk around the city plaza with everyone else. We'd sip on limon granizados (fresh squeezed lemon slushies) and window shop. As we walked, total strangers tussled my hair and pinched my cheeks. This never happened at home in Scotland. What was going on? Spanish people love kids and they make a fuss over them.
That was not the case in first-century Israel. In Jesus' day, kids were not fussed over. They were an extra mouth to feed until they were old enough to work. Kids definitely didn't get access to important people - such as the famous, miracle-working, rabbi who had come to town.
In Mark 10:13-16, when a gaggle of kids were brought to Jesus for a blessing, the disciples acted on instinct, the way they'd been raised, and they shooed the children away from the important teacher. The Bible says the disciples 'rebuked' them. That's what Jesus did to demons. In Mark 9:25, Jesus 'rebuked' the demon out of a little boy.
Jesus saw his disciples rebuking kids and he got mad. Mark says he was 'indignant,' which means he vented strong anger at his disciples. Why? After all, these were just kids. Why should they get access to the Master? Because Jesus is the only way into the Kingdom life. That's why Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them. The kingdom of God belongs to such as these" (verse 14).
This is where we usually misunderstand Jesus: He does not mean that we enter the Kingdom if we're innocent, naive, or simple like a child. No one is innocent, so that won't work.
What Jesus means is clear from the context: "Let the little children come to me." That's how we enter the Kingdom - by seeking and finding Jesus. He's the way into the Kingdom life. There's no other way in: (1 John 5:12) Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life."
Mark wants us to know that everyone is invited to enter the Kingdom of God, but we can only get in through Jesus, so we need to bring everyone to Jesus, even little kids who seem unimportant, powerless, or annoying.
SEEKING - AND NOT FINDING - JESUS
Mark now shifts the scene from a bunch of kids to an important man. In Luke's account (Luke 18:18), he's called a ruler, so he might have been a leader in a synagogue, or a political leader. He ran to Jesus and fell on his knees in deference, both of which were unusual and undignified. But he had an urgent question for Jesus - the same question we should all ask him: (Mark 10:17) “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” In this passage, three phrases all mean the same thing: eternal life, entering the Kingdom of God (verse 24), and being saved (verse 26).
There are a bunch of details here, but I want us to stay focused on the main thing. Jesus wanted the man (and us) to know three crucial facts about entering the Kingdom:
Verse 18: When we meet Jesus, we meet God. The man called him "good teacher," which was an expression Jews avoided because in their minds only God was good. So, Jesus helps the man reflect on what he was really saying: Meeting Jesus is meeting God: (John 14:9) "Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father."
Verse 19: Self-worship keeps us from God. The man felt good about keeping God's commandments, just as Paul did before Jesus wrecked his self-confidence: (Philippians 3:6) "As for righteousness based on the law, faultless." Jesus 'looked' (verse 21 - to look intently) deep inside the man, and saw what he worshipped: himself, his wealth, his goodness.
Verse 21: Jesus is our greatest treasure. Jesus told the man that he could have 'treasure in heaven,' but only if he made Jesus his treasure on earth.
Jesus didn't say these things to push the man away from the Kingdom. He 'loved' the man (verse 21), but the man loved himself and his wealth. He decided not to do what Jesus asked and, therefore, not to enter the Kingdom of God. Mark writes that the man 'went away sad.' He knew what he was turning down.
Do you see how important and urgent it is to seek and find Jesus and not let anything get in the way? Only disciples enter the Kingdom and receive eternal life; only those who apprentice themselves to Jesus and follow him and do what he says. It comes down to treasure: who or what do we treasure, value most, trust in, worship, obey?
CONCLUSION: SEEK JESUS, FIND JESUS, FOLLOW JESUS
Wealth is not the issue in this story or in our lives. Wealth is a symptom. The issue is the condition of our hearts. What do our hearts treasure? Self or Jesus? Wealth or Jesus? Reputation or Jesus? Security or Jesus? We can't make ourselves the center and follow Jesus at the same time. Something's got to give.
Becoming a disciple of Jesus is the most urgent priority in life. Peter and Andrew, James and John "immediately" left their fishing nets to follow Jesus (Mark 1:16-20). Levi left his tax table to follow Jesus (Mark 2:24). Paul wrote about the "surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things" (Philippians 3:8).
Jesus is worth it. He is precious, the greatest treasure. Knowing him as God, King, Savior, friend, and brother is THE best life now and forever. The Spirit of Jesus lives in us. He constantly pours out love into our hearts (Romans 5:5) by revealing Jesus to us. He speaks to us; he reassures us; he guides us and teaches us; he renews and transforms us; and he empowers and anoints us. Jesus is worth any price, any loss, any suffering, any rejection, any pressure.
Jesus knew his true value to us. That's why he told the crowds who came to see him that it is worth giving up everything, including your life, to follow him:
(Luke 14:25-27) Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: 26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. 27 And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.
This wasn't meant to slam the door on us by making impossible demands. He wasn't raising the bar so high that no one can be a disciple. No! Jesus wants us to know that he's worth it. Whatever we lose to follow him, he makes up to us a million times over by giving himself to us (see Mark 10:29-31).
Last week, I watched a very well-known worship leader give an interview. She talked about what it means for her to know and follow Jesus. I could tell that Jesus is the most precious thing in her life, a true treasure. She was weeping because she wants to know him more and to follow him more closely. How about you? What's your treasure?