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Moments With The Master Series
A TRAGIC MOMENT
Intro: We are continuing to look at the personal encounters the Lord Jesus had while He walked here on the earth. Most of the personal encounters Jesus had while He was on this earth ended gloriously. Most often, the people who met Jesus were healed, saved and eternally changed. However, not every meeting ended so gloriously! In our text today, we are presented with a man who had a personal encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ that ended tragically.
I would like for us to look into this encounter today, because I fear that there are many people attending our Baptist churches who are in the same condition as this young man. They want to be saved and they may even feel that they are saved, but they have no understanding of what genuine, biblical salvation is all about.
Well, in this passage, the Lord Jesus tells us in no uncertain terms just what it takes to be saved. I do not know where you stand with the Lord today, but I do know that if you are not saved, you need to be and you will hear how you can be today. If, for some reason, you have been mislead about your salvation, then you will hear how you can come to know Jesus today. All I ask is that you let the Lord speak to your heart, and if He calls you to come to Him, then I want you to come. Let’s look together at another moment with the Master and consider A Tragic Moment.
I. V. 17 THE MAN AND HIS DESIRE
(Ill. This particular encounter is mentioned by Matthew (Matt. 19:16-22), Luke (Luke 18:18-23) and of course here, in our text, by Mark. All three of the Gospel writers add additional detail concerning this man who has come to be known as The Rich Young Ruler. For the sake of our study, it would be time well spent to get to know him just a little bit better.)
A. The Person Who Came - All three evangelists tell us that he was a rich man. Matthew tells us that he was young (19:22) and Luke tells us that he was a ruler (18:18). This probably means that he was a ruler in the synagogue. When all the facts concerning this man are considered, it becomes clear that this young man had many things going for him in his life.
1. He has Youth - Youth is a wonderful thing! There is no better time to give one’s life to the Lord, Ecc. 12:1. If you are young and unsaved, let me challenge you to come to Jesus today! Don’t waste your life! Don’t burn the candle for the devil and then blow the smoke of a wasted life in the face of God someday. Come to Jesus now, while He can use you for His glory and make something special out of your life!
2. He has Wealth - This young man has plenty of this world’s goods, v. 22. Now, there is nothing wrong with having money! Money itself isn’t evil, it is when money has you that problems begin to creep in, 1 Tim. 6:10.
3. He has Morality and Religion - This man is living a clean, moral life. Notice that Jesus did not rebuke him when he claimed to have kept the commandments. Outwardly, this man’s life was clean and pure. That is a wonderful thing! It ought to be true about every person in this room.
4. He has Position - Luke says that he is a ruler, (18:18). As I said a moment ago, this probably means that he is a leader in the synagogue. He is a man of some influence in local religious circles. That too is a good thing!
5. From every outward appearance, this man was the ideal young person. He was everything a mother might want her son to be. He was clean cut, religious, industrious and morally clean. He was the envy of everyone!
B. The Problem He Carried - In spite of all he has going for him, this man had one mighty big skeleton in his closet! In spite of all that he had, he still had an itch he could not scratch! He had found that his youth left him unsatisfied. His money had left him feeling unfulfilled. His morality, his clean living and his religious activity had not been able to satisfy the deepest longing of his soul. His swift climb up the rungs of the social ladder had failed to give him what he wanted most: peace with God. So, he comes with haste to Jesus. He falls down before the Lord and he cries out to Christ.
(Note: Maybe there are people in this room in the same shape as this young men. From every outward appearance, you have it made. Life has been good to you. You have a little money. Maybe you have climbed up the social ladder a little ways. Maybe your name is well known and you are well thought of in the community. Maybe you are a good person, who has lived a clean, moral life. Maybe you are a church member, a leader, a teacher, and everyone thinks your life is complete.
But, in spite of all you have, there is still something missing in your life. You know you have what it takes to live, but you also know that you are unprepared to die. You have everything you want and need materially, but you do not have spiritual peace with God. Everything looks good on the outside, but the insides are all messed up. If that describes you, then keep listening, because Jesus has a word of hope for you!)
II. V. 17-21 THE MAN AND HIS DECEPTION
A. V. 17 The Confusion - As this young man comes to Jesus, he gets several things right. Notice:
1. He comes to the right Person - He had evidently heard of Jesus and knows that if anyone can help him, Jesus can. We will say more about that in a moment.
2. He comes in the right way - He comes running, because he knows the urgency of the situation. (Note: Nothing in life is as urgent as your salvation! Life could end at any moment and you need to be sure that you are saved! Ill. James 4:14; Psa. 90:5-6; Psa. 144:4) He also came kneeling. This shows that he recognized that fact that Jesus is worthy and he is not. (Note: When you do come to Him, you will come as a broken person. It won’t be fun and games, but there will be an understanding that you are a sinner and He is holy. There will be a desire to become low before Him, 1 Pet. 5:6!)
3. He comes for the right purpose - This young man came to Jesus pondering the issues of eternity. He had the most important things on his heart. Here is a man who has it all, yet with all his power, his possessions and his privileges, he still does not know that answer to the greatest of all questions. He knows a lot of things, but he is forced to admit that he does not know the way to Heaven! (Note: We live in the midst of one of the most sophisticated and intellectually advanced cultures the world has ever known, yet people still do not know the answer to the most basic and important question of all. People do not know how to be saved. Man can split atoms, put men on the moon, harness the power of the sun, wind and rain, but he does not know how to get to Heaven! Thankfully, Jesus had the answer for this young man and He still has the answer you need today. We will come to that in just a moment. So, if thoughts of eternity and Heaven and how to get there are bothering you, then hang on, because Jesus tells us exactly what we need to know in this passage!)
4. He comes at the right time - He came when Jesus was nearby! That is a mistake many make. They think they can come to Jesus at anytime. They think they can come whenever it fits into their schedule. The truth of the matter is somewhat different. Man doesn’t come to the Lord whenever he wants, he comes to Jesus when Jesus is passing close to him. That is why the Bible says what it does in Isa. 55:6 and John 6:44. You never come to Him when you want. You comes when He is calling you. You come when He is passing by!
While this man gets several things right, he gets the main thing terribly wrong. Notice his question in verse 17. “Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?” Matthew’s account puts it this way, “Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?”, Matt. 19:16. This man knows he has a lot of good things stacked up in his corner. He seems to think that if he can just add some other good thing, then he can have salvation as a reward. There are two basic problems with his question:
1. He thinks salvation can be earned - In other words, he is looking for a “Do” oriented salvation. He wants to have a hand in it. He wants to be involved. He wants to get his salvation like he has gotten everything else in his life: he wants to earn it for himself. (Note: Many people still believe that salvation is based on “do”. They’ve got to do something to get it. Be it join a church, get baptized, teach Sunday School, preach, give, become a moral person and stop sinning and the list could go on forever! The Bible tells us in no uncertain terms that salvation is never about “Do”, Eph. 2:8-9; Titus 3:5. Salvation, through Jesus Christ, is always about “Done!” When Jesus died on the cross, He said “It is finished!” He did it all and there is nothing you and I can do you to add to it or to get it on our own. Salvation is was achieved by Jesus when died on the cross and rose again. It is received by us when we accepted what He did by faith! Salvation has never been about what we can do, but it has always been about what He did! (Ill. The Philippian Jailer had the same questions for Paul and Silas in Acts 16:30, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” Paul’s answer to him was that there was nothing more to do but to believe, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ”, Acts 16:31!) Nothing has changed! If you want to be saved, you must rest in “Done!” and forget about “Do!”)
2. He thinks salvation is a reward - He seems to think that if he can just do enough good things, then God will give him eternal life as a reward. Friend, salvation is not a reward for faithful service, it is the free gift of God’s grace! We could never do enough to reach a place where God would reward us with salvation. Heaven does not have a “Green Stamps” plan! Salvation is not a reward for service, but it is the gift of grace, John 10:28! More will be said about that in a moment!
B. V. 18-20 The Confrontation - When Jesus hears what this man wants, He responds in an unusual manner. He confronts this young man in two specific areas.
1. He confronts him regarding the Person of the Savior - When this young man called Jesus Good. Jesus reminded this young man that no one was good but God. This was designed to make this young man consider how he viewed Jesus Christ. Was Jesus just an elevated “teacher” as the words “good Master” imply, or did this young man say that he believed Jesus to be God in the flesh? Obviously, this man only believed that Jesus was a great teacher.
That is one of this man’s problems! Before he, or anyone, for that matter, can be saved, they must come to the place where they have a correct understanding of Who Jesus Christ is. He is not just a good moral man, a teacher sent to show us the way. No! He is far more than that! He is God in the flesh! He is not a way-shower, He is the Way. He is not a true dispenser, He is the Truth. He does not point out the path to life, but He Himself is the Life! (John 14:6) Friend, do you know Who Jesus is? He isn’t just another stop on the scenic road to Heaven. He is the only hope you have of salvation, 1 John 5:11-15; John 8:24. Finding out Who Jesus is, is one of the primary, elementary steps in coming to know Him!
2. He confronts him regarding the Problem of Sin - When Jesus reminds this young man that only God is good, he is trying to get this moral young man to see that he is a sinner. When Jesus rattles off this list of commands, it isn’t to imply that salvation comes by keeping them. Jesus is trying to get this man to see that he is a sinner. He wants to extract a response from this young man that shows he understands what salvation is all about.
Apparently, this young man believed that salvation was just something else he could add to his resume. But, Jesus wants him to see that he is a sinner and as a sinner he has no ground upon which to stand before the face of God. Jesus wants him to see that regardless of what he may possess materially, he is morally and spiritually bankrupt.
When this man responds to Jesus, he declares that he has kept the Law and has not broken it. It is interesting that Jesus doesn’t disagree with him. It may be that he is clean outwardly, but Jesus is trying to get him to see the condition of his heart! And, this young man never does! As far as he is concerned, he has arrived spiritually.
(Note: This is where most people are isn’t it? They take an external, superficial, inventory of their lives and think they are alright. They say, “I don’t beat my wife. I don’t abuse my children. I don’t run around. I don’t drink. I provide for my family. I am a pretty good person. And, after all, compared to some people, why, I am almost a saint!” Do you know what’s wrong with that? The problem with people and their relationship with God is not what they are outwardly, it’s what they are inwardly! The heart of the problem is a problem with the heart! Man is a sinner, Rom. 3:10-12, 18, 23. He can clean up the outside all he wants to, but he is still a sinner! You can wash a pig, perfume him and put a ribbon around his neck and he looks clean. But, you turn him loose and he’ll head straight to the wallow. Why? He is a pig and that is what pigs do! You can take a corpse and comb its hair, put makeup on it, perfume it and it looks pretty good, but it will still rot and decay. Why? It is a dead corpse and that what corpses do! A sinner may turn over a new leaf and look good outwardly. He may be a moral, clean, hard working person, but he is still a sinner at heart and he needs a Savior. That is what Jesus wanted this young man to know and that is what He wants you to know as well.)
C. V. 21 The Clarification - Notice the love and compassion in the heart of Jesus for this young man. Jesus still loved this young man regardless of his sins and regardless of his improper understanding of the things of God. And, friend, no matter where you are today, He loves you too. As proof of His love, Jesus tells this young man how to be saved. It is this message that we all need to hear today.
Jesus tells him to do three things.
1. Sell his possessions and give the money to the poor - Jesus isn’t implying that salvation is earned by giving away our material possessions. He is merely placing His finger on the root of this man’s problem. He loved his money more that he wanted God in his life. Jesus is saying, “If you want Me, you can place nothing else ahead of Me!” By the way, that is still the message of the Gospel today! While many are preaching “easy believism” and telling lost sinners, “You can come to Jesus and hang onto everything you love in the world too.” Jesus says, “If you aren’t willing to turn your back on everything for me, then you can’t come to me to be saved!”, Matt. 6:24; Matt. 16:24. That sounds harsh, and it is, but it is still message of the Gospel. Nothing else will save!
2. Take up the cross - The cross was symbolic of death. To take up one’s cross was to go to one’s death. Jesus is saying, “If you want me, then you have to die to yourself!” In other words, your loves, your goals, your desires, your plans, everything you have, must be given up if you want to come to Jesus! That is a message you don’t hear much today. Preachers tell people to come to Jesus just as they are. They say, “You don’t have to change a thing! Dress like you want to, live like you want to, do whatever you want to do, just pray a little prayer and everything will be alright!” What a damnable lie! What treachery of Satan! What foolishness! The modern church says, “Come to Jesus on your terms and live as you please.” Jesus says, “If you want to come to me you have to die to yourself, and if you will do that, then I will live through you!” Which describes the salvation you have today?
3. Follow Jesus - Here is the crux of the matter! This young man has been following power, prestige, position and possessions. Jesus says, “You turn your back on all that and you follow me. That is how you get eternal life!” This I still the call of the Gospel. God says, “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God and there is none else”, Isa. 45:22.
The demands of the Gospel are clear. You must forsake your sins through genuine repentance and embrace the Savior by faith. This, and this alone, will save your soul, Ill. Rom. 10:9! Some will say, “But preacher, if we make it sound so hard, people won’t come! We have to make it easy for people to get saved.” My answer is this: “We cannot make it any easier than God has already made it, Rom. 10:13; John 6:37. But, we must also tell the truth about the matter. If you think you can have Jesus on the one hand and hold to the world with the other, then you are dead wrong. If that is what you have. Then you don’t have salvation, you have nothing more than religion, and you need to be saved! Our duty to this generation is not to make the Gospel easier to swallow, but it is to tell the world the truth. I still believe that when God speaks to hearts, shows them their condition and draws them to Himself, they will come to Him by faith!
III. V. 22 THE MAN AND HIS DECISION
(Ill. Here is the saddest part of this entire encounter. This young man makes his decision, but it is a tragic decision. Let’s notice what he did.)
A. He Made An Earthly Decision - He chose his possessions over Jesus! He loved his money more than he wanted to be saved. (Note: Jesus will allow you to make the same choice. It may not be money. It may be pleasure, some sin, your family, your independence, etc. If you want it, He will let you keep it! But, ask yourself this question: “Is it really worth more than my soul?” Friend, nothing is worth your soul, Mark 8:36-37!
B. He Made An Eternal Decision - One day, this man’s youth faded and was gone. He retired from his prestigious position down at the synagogue. Finally, age and disease overtook him and even his vast wealth couldn’t prolong the inevitable, and he died. When he did, he found out that his religion and his moral lifestyle were not enough. When he died, he found himself in Hell, lost forever, because he had walked away from the only hope he had ever had: Jesus Christ.
Friends, what you do with Jesus in this life, will determine what He will do with you in the afterlife! Has He called you to follow Him? What was your response? Did you forsake all to go after Jesus, regardless of the cost? Is He calling you now? What will you say? Will you come to Him and be saved, or will you go away from Him to continue to live without Him and maybe one day to die without Him? It is decision time, what will you do?
Conc: In verse 21, Jesus summed up this young man’s dilemma with these words, “One thing thou lackest.” This man had everything, but the most important thing. He had everything but he lacked Jesus! Does that describe you? Do you have money? Position? Youth? Beauty? Health? Education? Or anything else you can name, but still lack Jesus? Friend, you don’t have to go another minute without Him. Today is a time of personal encounters. Jesus is speaking to hearts right now. Don’t let you encounter with Him become a tragic one day. Don’t walk away from Jesus, come to Him now!