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Mark 10:17-22


Intro: Sadly, we live in a world that is filled with tragedy. In recent months, we have become accustomed to hearing of tragedies in the news. The World Trade Center disaster, the fighting in Israel and Afghanistan, the threat of nuclear war between Pakistan and India, all remind us that we live in a world where tragedy can be seen on every have. Yet, there is another realm in which tragedies take place everyday that cannot be seen with the naked eye. Tragedies that result not in the loss of property, but in the loss of the soul. The story I have read today tells of one such tragedy.

Now, there is a lot which is right about this tale. Here is a young man who came to the right Person and the right time. He came asking the right question and received the right answer. The tragedy lies in the fact that he made the wrong decision. Here is a man who suffered the greatest tragedy of all. He came close to salvation, but walked away into Hell.

Our text tells us that this man was young, v. 20 and that he was rich, v. 22. Luke 18:18 reminds us that he was a ruler as well. That is why he has come to be known as The Rich Young Ruler. However, the details concerning his encounter with Jesus reveal him to be just a poor old slave.

I want to share his story with you this morning so that you do not end up like he did. Let's look into this text together today. There are some truths here that we need to look at and understand. Join me as I share The Story Of The Poor Old Slave. I just want you to remember: your story doesn't have to end like his did!


(Note: He comes running to Jesus and he bows before Him. These actions exhibit a sincere desire in this young man's heart. He runs, signifying that he senses the urgency of his need. He bows, signifying that he views Jesus as one to be held in honor. Also, he probably heard the Lord's words in verse 15. However, sincerity alone is not enough to save the soul. If it were, then many members of some cults would be saved! He wants to be saved, but he has some misconceptions that must be dealt with before that can happen.)

A. A Faulty Understanding Of Salvation - He wanted to "Do". Salvation is not about "Do", it is about "Done"! (Eph. 2:8-9; John 19:30) (Thank God, it was finished 2,000 years ago!)

B. A Faulty Understanding Of Self - He wanted to get "self" involved. He failed to realize that all self could ever produce is corruption, Isa. 64:6; Isa. 53:6; Rom. 3:10-13. (All your religion, your self-effort, your trying to be good will do nothing for you but take you to Hell!)

C. A Faulty Understanding Of The Savior - He called Jesus "Master". This means "teacher." He saw Jesus as one who could teach him the way to God. This is the same error many people have made today concerning Jesus. You will never be saved by following His teachings. He did not come to show the way, He is the Way, John 14:6. (Note: For salvation to ever be a reality in your life, you will have to come to the place where you recognize that Jesus Christ, alone, is who men need to be saved!) (Note: He called Jesus "good", Jesus reminded him that if he was good, then He must be God. He wants to know if this is what this man meant!)


(Note: As this young man speaks with Jesus, the Lord reveals the truth to this young man in two important areas.)

A. He Learned Of His Spiritual Condition - During his interview with Jesus, he was confronted with the reality of who he is. By the way, you will never be all you can be, until you come to terms with who you are! You will never come to Jesus for salvation until you see yourself for just what you are. Many don't want to do that, but it is a necessary step in coming to the Lord. Why? Jesus came to save sinners, but righteous people - Luke 19:10; Mark 2:17.

1. He Discovered That He Was Really Poor - Verse 22 tells us that this man was wealthy. His money could buy him a lot, but it could not buy him what his soul needed. (Note: Money can buy a bed, but not sleep; food, but not an appetite; medicine, but not health; a house, but not a home; a diamond, but not love; a church pew, but not eternal life!) It doesn't matter what you may possess this morning! Even if it is religion, human goodness and kindness, it cannot buy you everlasting life! Regardless of what you have, until you have Jesus, you are bankrupt spiritually. What lost men need cannot be bought with money anyway, Isa. 55:1.

2. He Discovered That He Was Really Pitiful - He arrived thinking that he was a moral man, v. 18b-20. He found out that he was "lacking" spiritually, v. 21. You see, Jesus is not teaching works salvation here. He is merely getting to the root of this man's spiritual problem. He is showing him that regardless of what he may think about himself, in the eyes of the Lord, he is still a lost sinner in need of a Savior! (Note: There is no sadder figure in all the world than a person who has been deceived into thinking they are right with God, when they are still lost in sin! Verse 20 reveals the depths of his delusion!) (Note: Many people are like the Laodiceans, Rev. 3:17: Blind to their own needs! Imagine a life lived in deception, to awake in Hell! Many will, Matt. 7:21-22; 2 Pet. 1:10; 2 Cor. 13:5.)

3. He Discovered That He Was Really A Prisoner - this man thought that he owned a lot of things. What he discovered is that his things owned him! (Note: Regardless of what you have, or what stands between you and the Lord this morning, no one or no thing is worth going to Hell over, Mark 8:36-37.)

B. He Learned Of The Savior's Spiritual Credentials - When he arrived, he thought Jesus was just another teacher. When he left, he knew that Jesus was God He was confronted with the truth about the Savior.

1. He Discovered That Jesus Was Patient - Jesus took the time to meet this young man just where he was and to lead him gently to the place of decision. When Jesus looked at him, He did so with kind eyes and a compassionate heart. The Bible tells us that He "loved" him! Regardless of his condition and the baggage he was carrying from his past, Jesus loved this young man and wanted to save him. (Note: Friend, Jesus will lovingly and patiently work in your heart to bring you to a place of decision. He loves you, Jer. 31:3, and He wants you to be saved, 1 Tim. 2:4.)

2. He Discovered That Jesus Was Plain - Jesus pulled no punches with this young man, but He plainly told him all the truth. His words "one thing thou lackest" is a commentary on this man's spiritual condition. Jesus did not dispute the fact that he had kept the letter of the Law, v. 18-20. He merely tells this man that with all his possessions; his position "ruler"; his power and his prestige, there was still one thing missing! The thing that was missing was the most important thing of all. This man had no relationship with or faith in God! (Note: You can have it all in this world and still lack the one thing that will let you into heaven in the next world. That one "thing" is a personal, saving relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. 1 John 5:12 puts it in as simple of terms as is possible! If you have everything and miss Jesus, then you have nothing at all!) (Note: If the Lord were to speak to you directly this morning, would He say "You have a lot, but you lack one thing"?)

3. He Discovered That Jesus Was Precise - Jesus gave this young man a three fold command. Doing these three things will put him in a position to experience eternal life.

a. Liquidate Your Possessions - This would release him from the bondage of his present God; display genuine love for his neighbor, and give him everlasting possessions in Heaven. (Note: What has you trapped?)

b. Take Up Thy Cross - Willingly identify yourself with the Lord Jesus Christ and His death. Be willing to absolutely die to self and all your interests and desires. (Note: Before a person meets Jesus they are dead, Eph. 2:1. Dead to spiritual things, but alive to the world. After salvation, they are to be dead to the world, but alive to God, Rom. 6:11; Gal. 2:20.)

c. Follow Me - This is the crux of the matter! He was called to a place of decision, where he was to leave his old life behind and go with Jesus from that moment on. He was to place his faith and his life in the hands of the Lord. (Note: This is what salvation is all about! When God brings you to that moment of decision, you are to trust Him, follow Him, and leave everything behind for Him. This is where a lot of Baptists have missed it! We are to commit our all to the Lord and trust Jesus and Him alone for our salvation!) (Note: How do you follow Jesus? It is by faith - Acts 16:31; John 6:47; Rom. 10:13.)


(Note: Verse 22 tells the sad story of this man's reaction to the words of the Savior. I hope no one here today will do as this man did that day.)

A. He Chose Darkness Over Light - The word "sad" means "to be covered over with a cloud." He left still enveloped in the cloud of spiritual darkness that surrounded him when he arrived. He was a sad figure as he walked away from the only hope of salvation he had. (Note: People still make the same foolish decision today! The Bible tells us that men won't come to Jesus because they love darkness, John 3:19-20. That is the recipe for a very sad life!) (Note: When the Spirit gets a hold of you just right, you will be willing to trade your darkness for the light of God! When you see what you are and what He can do for you, it will change everything!)

B. He Chose Defeat Over Liberty - This young man loved his stuff more than he wanted to go to Heaven. He did not realize that he was trapped in the prison of materialism and that all the things he loved so dearly were his cell keepers. Jesus, on the other hand, was offering him life and liberty from his prison. (Note: Again, people still choose the bondage of sin over the liberty of His salvation!) (Ill. Gourds, sweets and monkey traps.)

C. He Chose Death Over Life - When this young man "went away", he was turning his back on the only one who could have saved his soul! In that moment of time, he said, "I'd rather keep what I have and go to Hell that give up one cent and go to Heaven. I will not make a commitment to follow Jesus Christ." (Note: I hope you won't do that today! I hope you will not choose death over life. Jesus wants to give you a life that more abundant than anything you could ever imagine, John 10:10. He wants to liberate you from the things that bind you, Luke 4:18. He wants to save you soul, Heb. 7:25!

Conc: We don't know how this man's story turned out. For all we know, he walked off into the continued darkness of his life and eventually into the darkness of Hell forever. Is that how your story will end? It doesn't have to! If you have recognized the fact that you are not right with God. You are not saved and you know it, and you want to meet Jesus, I am inviting you to come to Him today so that He can save you and forever change your life! If you are saved, but your commitment to Jesus isn't what it should be I am inviting you to get that settled today as well. Whatever the need may be, there is help and hope in Jesus.

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