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Sep 27 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

September 23, 2018 – Mark 10:13-27, 46-52

Open Eyes and An Open Heart

And they were bringing children to Him so that He might touch them; but the disciples rebuked them. 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 will not enter it at all.
And He took them in His arms and began blessing them, laying His hands on them Mark 10:13-16

Intro: I had a few extra hours with my grandson, Calum, this week

He could not go to school, because he was running a temperature
– I get nervous about fevers – two of our sons, when very small, had febrile seizures
• so it makes sense to me that parents wanted Jesus to touch their children
• what doesn’t make sense is that the disciples would block them
– Jesus’ message, from his first spoken words in chapter 1,
• has been the kingdom of God (Mk. 1:15)
• now he places children in the center of God’s kingdom
◦ it belongs to them,
◦ and the only way to enter the kingdom is to receive it as a child

How did these children receive the kingdom of God?
– Jesus took them in his arms, blessed them and placed his hands on them
• taking them in arms implies all that a child gets from being held
◦ assistance, protection, nurture, affection, and much more
• Jesus’ blessing and placing his hands on them were a form of ritual
◦ it is reminiscent of the blessings fathers imparted to their children in the Old Testament
– this is the warmest picture I can imagine of God’s kingdom
• being a child, held in the arms of Jesus

This story highlights the touch of Jesus
– the next story highlights the look of Jesus
• and how it opens the door to the kingdom
– one last story highlights the word of Jesus

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?”
And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone. 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.'”
And he said to Him, “Teacher, I have kept all these things from my youth up.”
Looking at him, Jesus loved 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.”
But at these words he was saddened, and he went away griveving, for he was one who owned much property. 
Mark 10:17-22

Mark jumps from a story about children to “a man”

What this man got right: he put his question to Jesus
– but he makes two statements that reveal he came with a wrong idea
• his first problem was revealed in he addressed Jesus, “Good Teacher”
• his second problem was revealed in his question, “what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”

“Good Teacher” was simply a polite greeting
– his obvious intention was to show Jesus respect
• Jesus, however, made it an issue
◦ notice that Jesus did not wait for an answer, but went on talking
◦ Jesus didn’t expect an answer– he just wanted him to think about the question
• Jesus wasn’t denying that he was good
◦ he asked why he referred to Jesus as good
– his point was that goodness is a criterion only God can meet
• if he assumed Jesus teaching people how to be good enough to please God,
◦ he was very much mistaken
• this cuts to the heart of the man’s wrong thinking
◦ he thought he could do something good enough to earn eternal life

This thought is also revealed in his question, “what shall I do?”
– Jesus’ response: “If you want to make this about doing, you know the commandments”
• what might the man infer from this reply?
◦ “Does this mean I’m already doing enough?
– or perhaps–
◦ “I’ve always kept those commandments, but I still feel that isn’t enough”
– did you notice the commandments Jesus listed were from big Ten?
• all except one: Do not defraud – Jesus slipped that one in
◦ perhaps this is a clue
◦ was the man trying to defraud God? others?
◦ was he defrauding himself with his mistaken ideas regarding winning eternal life?
• when Jesus explained what was missing and what he could do,
◦ the man became saddened, and he went away grieving
◦ he had his answer, but it grieved him

Now do you see why Jesus made the point that only God is good?

It is because all of our human goodness is insufficient

. . . if a law had been given which was able to impart life, then righteousness would indeed have been based on law. But the Scripture has shut up everyone under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe (Gal. 3:21-22)

• God made the way into eternal life personal
◦ it is not a reward handed out for completing certain tasks
◦ eternal life is being held in the arms of Jesus
– I don’t think Jesus wants anyone to be grieved by his words
• especially not his invitation to follow him
◦ or if his words are disappointing at first,
◦ he knows disappointment will be replaced by joy once they decide to follow him
• anyway, Jesus will not compromise to avoid hurt feelings
◦ if someone follows Jesus, the Lord will be with that person forever
◦ it will be a relationship forged in truth as well as love

And Jesus, looking around, said to His disciples, “How hard it will be for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God!”
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! 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.”
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 10:23-27

Until now, Jesus has been looking at the man

After he walked away, Jesus “looked around”
– “How hard it will be for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God”
• notice, the man had asked about eternal life and Jesus switched to God’s kingdom
◦ eternal life is not only forever, but it is an abundance of life
◦ the kingdom of God is eternity filling the moments of our lives
◦ that is to say, those moments in which we are aware of God’s presence
• the point here is that wealth gets in our way
◦ whether we have wealth or do not have wealth, yet obsess over it
– what gets in our way is not possessions, money or other people
(all the stuff listed in verses 29-30)
• what gets in our way is our attachment of things money and people
• what having this stuff means to us
◦ or, maybe even more so, what possibly losing all of it means to us

To the disciples, these words made the way in seem impossible
“If hard for the wealthy, what about us poor folk?”

Then who can be saved?

(remember, saved means to be made whole, complete, sound)
– who can qualify if even those with all the advantages cannot?
• we are about to find out
– but we might remember the previous story
• it may be hard for the rich to enter God’s kingdom,
◦ but it is not hard for children
• children enter easily and naturally

Then they came to Jericho. And as He was leaving Jericho with His disciples and a large crowd, a blind beggar named Barimaeus, the son of Timaeus, was sitting by the road. When he heard that it was Jesus the Nazarene, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”
Many were sternly telling him to be quiet, but he kept crying out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”
And Jesus stopped and said, “Call him here.” So they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take courage, stand up! He is calling for you.”
Throwing aside his cloak, he jumped up and came to Jesus. And answering him, Jesus said, “What do you want Me to do for you?”
And the blind man said to him, “Master, I want to regain my sight!”
And Jesus said to him, “Go; your faith has made you well.” Immediately he regained his sight and began following Him on the road. 
Mark 10:46-52

It was much easier for Bartimaeus to leave everything than the rich man

The rich man lost courage and walked away from Jesus
Bartimaeus took courage and waked away with Jesus
– The disciples had asked, Then who can be saved?
• in verse 52, Jesus’ words “made you well” translate the same Greek word, “saved”

Go; your faith has saved you

◦ all Bartimaeus had was the word of Jesus, and that word saved him
◦ a child can enter the kingdom, a blind beggar can be saved
• it was easy for Bartimaeus to follow Jesus
◦ in fact, he went without being invited
– what would have happened if the rich man said, “Jesus, I can’t let go of my wealth”?
• I think the Lord would have said something like,
“I know you can’t. I can. Walk with Me and let Me help you”

Only Mark tells us Jesus looked at the rich man and loved him
– if Jesus’ message grieved the wealthy man, it wasn’t for lack of love that Jesus leveled with him
• I want to think that what the man said about keeping the commandments
◦ is what got Jesus to take a closer look at him
◦ and that look evoked his love for the man
• he saw a man who wanted God and tried to fulfill the requirements
◦ who wanted to have it all–his wealth and God
◦ perhaps he earned his wealth, and hoped to earn eternal life
– next, Jesus “looked around” at the crowd and spoke to his disciples
• I think he was reading them
◦ what he told them caused them distress, which he then intensified
◦ looking directly at the disciples, Jesus distressed them even more,
until they hit the rock bottom of their impossibility
• that’s when he revealed the unlimited possibilities with God
◦ and soon, as if to prove that all things are possible with God,
◦ one who was even poorer than the disciples was saved

Conclusion: When Jesus looks, he sees more than we see

His eyes penetrate the surface, the obvious, the pose
– he sees into the soul
• its moods, darkness, dysfunction, motivation, confusion
• he sees truth of it all – and his heart is moved with compassion
– Jesus looks and he loves

We need to learn from Jesus how to look – listen – and love
– then not make mistake of disciples, shooing away parents
– or telling a blind man to be quiet
• we also need to be willing to have Jesus look at us

There was a young woman in the rehab facility where I volunteered, and she made an immediate positive impression on me. She is lovely, bright, and thoughtful–she has depth. I see my daughters in her.
This past week she lacked her usual sparkle. Toward the end of our group time, I asked how she was doing. She answered, “Not so good.” She then told the others and myself that her previous group meeting that afternoon had been really hard on her. Besides her addiction, she has an underlying eating disorder. She explained that the therapist had each client stand in front of a mirror and tell the others what she saw. The young woman then told us that she had the worst things to say about herself. It was a sad moment for all of us. She then asked if I would pray for her, and after the meeting several of us did pray for her.

Some of us are hard on ourselves like that
We need to see ourselves through the eyes of Jesus
We need to feel in ourselves his compassion for us
If we do this, and take it seriously,
we will begin to feel some compassion and grace for ourselves
And that, my dear friends, will change how we see and treat everyone else

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