Everything or Nothing?


This morning, we are continuing our new sermon series, Encountering God. I’d like to begin by asking you some questions.

Have you truly met the resurrected Jesus in your life? What does encountering the living God mean to you? As Christians, we always long to meet Him, but what might be hindering or preventing us from encountering Him?

What would be the most significant change in your life if you met the resurrected Jesus? And how does Christ teach us to follow Him as true disciples? These are important questions that we will explore today as we seek to understand the way of the followers of the living God.

Mark 10:17-31

17 As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

18 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. 19 You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud, honor your father and mother.’”

20 “Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.”

21 Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

22 At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.

23 Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!”

24 The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again, “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 someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

26 The disciples were even more amazed, and said to each other, “Who then can be saved?”

27 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.”

28 Then Peter spoke up, “We have left everything to follow you!”

29 “Truly I tell you,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel 30 will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life. 31 But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”

Jesus Met the Rich Young Ruler

The story of Jesus meeting the rich young man is recorded in three of the four Gospels: Matthew 19, Mark 10, and Luke 18. Matthew mentions him as young; Luke says that he was a ruler; but all three Synoptic Gospels state that he was wealthy. So, he is typically referred to as the rich young ruler.

In ancient Jewish society, wealth was often a sign of high social status and prestige. It was also common for wealthy individuals to hold positions of influence and power. He was a young man with great potential. He was also devoted to following God’s commandments and must have been respected by others in his community. It seems that he had almost everything.

In every way, he would be seen as an ideal young man from a Jewish perspective due to his wealth, adherence to the commandments, and potential for influence in his community. He also had a strong desire for spiritual things in his heart.  

          His Question: What Must I Do to Inherit Eternal Life?

Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem, where He knew that He would be arrested and crucified. The rich young man ran up to Jesus and knelt before him. He asked Jesus, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

If the rich young man were living with us today, he would be seen as a faithful Christian outwardly. He would continue to follow what the word of God teaches us and try to live a life that can positively influence others. He would be dedicated to regular prayer and Bible study.

He would be actively involved in his church community, attending worship services every Sunday, and participating in church leadership and ministries. He may donate generously to charitable causes. He would help those in need in his community and would be respected by many people.

If the rich young man were to ask us the same question today, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?”, We might want to tell him, “You are already on the right path, for you have been living a faithful life.” We might encourage him to continue his journey and stay committed as he has done.

When he asked the question to Jesus, Jewish people might have expected that kind of response from Jesus: Jesus would affirm the rich young man’s life and encourage him to continue on his path.

          Jesus’ Answer

But Jesus’ response was quite different than their expectation. He replied by listing some of the commandments, which the young man claimed to have kept since he was a boy. Yet, Jesus knew that he was still lacking something essential. Jesus looked at him and said, “One thing you lack,” “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

Jesus was inviting him to a true way to eternal life, but he didn’t get out of his own spiritual world. The young man’s response is in verse 22, “At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.” He hoped that he could find something more to do to ensure his eternal life. His reaction revealed his sin of covetousness and the depth of his greed, which was concealed by his morality and good deeds.

When he had to choose between his possessions and Jesus Christ, he chose his great wealth. His possessions were more important to him than following Jesus.

The Young Man’s Idol

In other words, the young man’s wealth was his god: he trusted it, worshiped it, and got his fulfillment from it. An idol could be anything that takes the place of God in our hearts, and becomes the center of our attention, devotion, and trust in our lives. It is something that we prioritize over our relationship with God. It is something that, we believe, will give us ultimate fulfillment and satisfaction.  

Jesus is not necessarily saying that wealth and possessions are inherently evil or sinful. They are great resources but could be your terrible master. If you possess money, be grateful and use it for God’s glory, but if money possesses you and becomes your mater, you will lose the Lord. In other words, you will lose everything.

In this story, Jesus is challenging the young man to examine his heart and priorities, and to seek first the kingdom of God rather than the accumulation of wealth and possessions.

He was willing to follow Jesus up to a point, but when it came to giving up his possessions, he chose his idol. He violated the first and greatest commandment, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind.”

His wealth became a stumbling block that prevented him from following Jesus. It led him away from God’s will and plan for his life and robbed him of God’s greatest blessing, eternal life, which was what he really wanted.

Idols in Our Lives

God is also inviting you to examine your hearts and priorities to check if there is anything that you prioritize over your relationship with the Lord.

Remember that idols can take many different forms.  

This world values wealth and possessions, and it can be easy for us to become attached to our material belongings like the rich young ruler.

Our culture often places a high value on success and achievement. While there is nothing wrong with setting goals and working hard to achieve them, it could become an idol when we prioritize our own success over God’s plan for our lives or the needs of others.

We all have a desire for comfort and security, but when we become obsessed with our own safety and well-being, it could become an idol. We may choose our own comfort over serving our neighbors and embracing various groups of people or taking risks for the sake of the gospel.

Our jobs and careers can be a source of fulfillment, but they can also become idols when we allow them to consume too much of our time, attention, and energy. We may value our own success over our relationships with God and others, leading to burnout, stress, and a lack of balance in our lives.

These are just a few examples of things that could become idols for us today.

Hidden Idols in Our Lives

There are also hidden idols. Hidden idols may be more serious to us because we are not even aware of them.

Hidden idols have been rationalized and justified in our minds. These can be deeply ingrained in our convictions, values, attitudes, and behaviors, and can manifest in subtle ways. Some of the most common hidden idols include control, self-righteousness, superiority over others, pride, power, fear, etc.

Empty Promises of the Idols

Idols might seem to promise us something we might like, depending on what it is and how it manifests in our lives. However, the promises of an idol are always deceptive and temporary. They can never fully satisfy your deepest longings and needs, and they always leave you wanting more. Eventually, they will lead you far away from the Lord and destroy you after all. There will be nothing left.

All Things Are Possible with God

In verse 25, Jesus said to His disciples, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

The disciples were shocked at Jesus’ words because in Jewish society at that time, wealth was often seen as a sign of God’s favor and blessing, so it was unexpected for Jesus to tell the rich man to give away everything he had. Additionally, it was common to believe that being wealthy was a sign of being righteous, so Jesus’ words challenged this belief.

So, the disciples said to each other, “Who then can be saved?”

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.”

What the Lord said is that it is impossible for anyone who puts trust in riches or any idols to enter the kingdom. It is possible only through the way of salvation that the Lord offers.

The Way of True Disciples and God’s Blessing

In verse 28, Peter asked Jesus a question: “We have left everything to follow you!” We can see a problem in his heart. What he was saying is, “We have given up everything for the Lord; now, what will we get in return?” He had a worldly viewpoint.

Jesus still gently assured His disciples that no one who follows Him will ever lose what He promised, either in this life or in the life to come. However, we must be sure our motives are right. If we sacrifice only to get a reward, that reward will never come.

Jesus said to the young man, “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.

This word is also for all of us as His disciples.

The values of the kingdom of God are different from the values of the world. In this world, the rich ruler stood first and the poor disciples stood last. But God saw things from the eternal perspective, and the first became last while the last became first! Those who are first in their own eyes will be last in God’s eyes, but those who are last in their own eyes will be rewarded as first!

Encountering the Resurrected Jesus

After Jesus’ death, the disciples were fearful and uncertain, having seen their leader crucified and buried. But after encountering the resurrected Jesus, their fear turned to joy, and their uncertainty was replaced with a newfound faith and confidence. The personal relationship with the resurrected Jesus strengthened their faith and gave them a deeper understanding of the kingdom of God.

This experience transformed their lives. The disciples also received the Holy Spirit after Jesus’ ascension, which empowered them to carry out His mission and spread the gospel message throughout the world.

They performed miracles, spoke boldly about the Gospel, and even faced persecution and martyrdom with courage and conviction. The disciples’ encounter with the resurrected Jesus transformed them from fearful and uncertain followers into bold and confident witnesses to the power of the Gospel.

Have you truly encountered the resurrected Jesus? What is your response to Jesus’ invitation: “Go, leave all your idols, and put trust only in me. Then come, follow me.”

I trust that you want to say yes to the Lord. It will be possible only with God.

So, let me read Ephesians 3:14-21 as our prayer. Let’s pray.

14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: