GOSPEL OF MARK – ROBBY GALLATY – Program 34
By: Dr. Robby Gallaty
|By: Pastor Robby Gallaty; ©2011|
|How can you make “in God we trust” the motto for your life?|
In God We Trust
The title of the message this morning is this: In God We Trust. How many people know the origin of that motto? Anyone? One possible origin—we don’t know exactly where it came from—is that it was the final stanza of the Star Spangled Banner. One early rendition has the variation of the phrase, “And this be our motto: in God we trust.” It was first used as a motto on the two-cent coin in 1864 followed by the five cent nickel. In 1866, it moved to the quarter, the half-dollar, the silver dollar, and eventually the gold dollar. It made its way into paper currency in 1957.
It’s one thing to have In God We Trust on money. It’s another thing to have it as the motto for our life. This morning, we’re going to meet a man who desired money and riches and possessions and we will see what happens when he comes in contact with Jesus and he has a choice to make. Do I follow my savings or do I put my trust in the Savior? If you have your Bibles, go to Mark 10:17. In God we trust. “And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him [here’s the question], ‘Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’”
We see two connections here. We see two separations. The first one is this: Entrance into the kingdom of heaven denied. Pretty sad. Entrance into the kingdom of heaven denied. Look what it says. He ran up to Jesus. He was a young man. Matthew says he’s a young man. Luke actually says he’s a ruler. That word ruler is the same word Luke uses in Luke 8:41 to describe Jarius, who was the ruler of the synagogue. So we can deduce that this man was a prominent figure in town.
He was a man who went to church probably every week. He showed up for Sunday morning Bible study religiously. He had a successful career. He had a prosperous lifestyle in that town. He kept all the commandments. He had no heinous sin, no outward sin. If you would’ve seen this guy on the street, you would have said this man has it all together. He gave to the church. He was an important member of that community. And as Jesus enters the town, we see he takes advantage of the opportunity. And so what does he do? Notice what he does. He runs up to Jesus and he does what? He kneels.
Now that’s an “aha” moment for you. You should be saying men don’t do two things. First of all, men never run. What’s the wow factor in the prodigal story is the fact that when the son repented, what did the father do? He ran. Men don’t run or didn’t run in the first century. A lot of men don’t run now, right? But in the first century they really didn’t run. It was a sign of disgrace. They didn’t do it. And the second thing they’d never do in the first century is what? Kneel before another man. Can you sense the humility in this man? Can you sense the sincerity? I mean, he really wants to know the answer to this question.
He goes to Jesus and he says, “Good Teacher, what must I do to have eternal life?” You have to admit it’s a pretty interesting question. Up to this point, no one had ever asked Jesus this particular question. But the man had two problems as we’ll see. The first problem he had was this: he had a problem with personal righteousness. The man thought he was good. He thought he could enter his way into heaven by doing a bunch of good things. Look at verse 18: “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 I have [commandments] from my youth.’”
See, Jewish people only called one person good. Who was that? It was God. And so rabbis would assume titles. You could call rabbis just about anything you wanted but they would never allow you to call them good, because if you called them good, it was blaspheming the Lord, who alone was good. By Jesus questioning this guy and saying, “Why do you call me good,” he’s actually stating something to the man. He’s saying, “By you calling me good, you’re actually calling me [what?] God.” That’s what he says. “Do you know that’s what you’re doing?”
The man says, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus gives him a pop quiz. I don’t know about you. I don’t like pop quizzes. And he quizzes him on the Old Testament, right? “Let me ask you a few commandments. Have you kept these: have you committed adultery?” “No.” “Have you murdered?” “No.” “Have you borne false witness against your neighbor?” “No.” “Have you lied?” “No.” “Do you steal?” “No.” “Do you defraud?” The man said, “No.” “Do you honor your mother and father?” He says, “Yes. I’ve honored all. I’ve kept all the commandments from A to Z or, in Hebrew, from Alef to Tau. I’ve kept them all.” Right?
And Jesus says, “You think you’ve kept them all.” You see, in the Old Testament, men actually believed that they could keep the commandments. They actually believed that if they did all the things right that they could earn favor with God. And I’ll prove it to you. Remember the Apostle Paul in Philippians 3. He said as for the law, I was what? A Pharisee. As for zeal, I was a persecutor of the church. As for righteousness to the law, as for keeping the law, he said I was what? Blameless. I was perfect. But Paul said whatever what to my gain I now count as loss for the sake of Christ. He realized that everything he had kept in the past, in view of the surpassing value of Christ was nothing. You see, what Jesus says is this: to list all these commandments in the eyes of this man, Jesus was getting at the heart of the issue.
Notice he leaves out one of the commandments. See the commandments are broken up into two sections. The first four of the Ten Commandments have to do with our relationship to God. The second half have to do with our relationship to other people. Jesus only calls out the last six, but he leaves out one. In essence, he exchanges one. He leaves out the word coveting and exchanges it for defrauding the man. See, if Jesus had said, “Do you covet?” The man couldn’t have said yes, because that was his problem. See, the man had a problem with searching out money and possessions. He had a love for money. He had a love for things.
But see, it goes even deeper than that. Jesus could have said coveting and he would have said I didn’t keep that one. But the things is, Jesus left out the first four, and it shows that this man broke the first commandment, which is the greatest of all commandments, which is to love the Lord your God above all things. And he couldn’t say that. Why? Because this man loved what? Money.
See, when you come to Jesus to have a relationship with him, he asks us to put away all false gods. He asks you to put away your possessions. He asks you to put away people. He asks you to put away passions. He asks you to put away your position to follow him sincerely. You know, the tense of the term here of the man asking the question gives us the idea that he was ready to do something. “Jesus, tell me what to do. I’ll do it. Tell me where to go. I’ll go. Tell what to buy and I will buy it.” And Jesus gives him the great subtraction. “I don’t want you to do anything. In fact, I want you to get rid of something.”
The man had a problem, first of all, with personal righteousness. Secondly, he had a problem with personal possessions. Look at verse 21: “And Jesus, looking at him, loved him….” Underline that. Loved him. It’s the only time in the book of Mark it actually says Jesus loved someone. Now Jesus loved all people, but this particular man shows us the motivation of the heart for Jesus. “And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, ‘You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and [then] come, follow me.’” The saddest verse in the Bible: “Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.”
See, when Jesus looked at him, it wasn’t a casual glance. That word look means to intently gaze at. It means to scrutinize. It means to examine. Jesus looks at this man’s heart and he loves him. He sincerely desires for him to follow him and he says, “Here’s the deal. There’s an issue in your life and you have to do something.” What is it? He says, “You have to sell it all and give to the poor.”
That is ironic if you think about it. Look what Jesus says just moments before this text in verse 13 of chapter 10: “And they were bringing children to him that he might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them. But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, ‘Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God.’” What’s odd is this: Jesus says that the children who have nothing are great in the kingdom of heaven. But this man who has everything is little in the kingdom of heaven. It’s the upside down kingdom for the Lord Jesus Christ. Only when this man sells it all and gives to the poor will he possess treasure in heaven.
Stephen Olford says this, “The man’s longing was a lack and without Christ, his lack was a loss.” The young ruler said, “I’m willing to do anything you want me to do, Jesus, but I won’t do that. Jesus, I’ll go anywhere you want me to go, but I won’t go there.” I love what Jesus says. He doesn’t do what most American pastors would do, I have to confess. Because an American pastor, after you tell a man, “Go sell it all and give to the poor,” and the man walks away, most American pastors would say, “I didn’t mean sell it all. How about 50 cents on the dollar? How about sell half of it? I didn’t mean all. Or just sell a quarter of it and give it.”
Notice Jesus doesn’t do what the health, wealth, and prosperity preachers do, right? “Sell it all and give it to me.” That’s what they say, right? Jesus said, “No, I don’t want your money because the issue is not with your money. The issue is with your heart. You have a heart condition. I want you to sell it all and give it to the poor and then come to me.” “But, Jesus, did you really mean to sell it all? Did you mean that?” Don’t you remember what Jesus said just a few moments earlier? If your hand causes you to sin, what? Cut it off. If your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off. If your eye causes you to sin, what? Gauge it out.
You know what that tells me? That some of us this morning need to take an honest look at our own life and ask the question, “Am I trusting Christ in all things? Am I concerned about the stock market more than my relationship with God? Am I concerned about the state of the economy more than my relationship with Christ? Am I concerned about making money for myself more than taking care of others?” Or a better question is this: Do I find my joy in my house, in my car, in my belongings, in my television, in my possessions, et cetera? William Cowper said it this way, “The dearest idol I have known, whatever the idol be, help me to tear it from thy throne and worship only Thee.” That could be the cry of your heart this morning.
Now, Jesus is not talking about selling everything just to be poor. He’s not talking about going into poverty for the sake of being poor; because poverty can be just as harmful to one’s life. As George McDonald said, “It’s not the rich man only who is under the dominion of things. The poor are slaves, too. Having no money, they are unhappy for the lack of the not having it. The money one has or the money one would have is in each case the cause of eternal stupidity.” Jesus knows the trap that money can keep you in and this is what he’s saying. If you’re making money for the sake of money and possessions, God is not pleased with that. But if you’re making money so that God could use you for the furtherance of his kingdom and for the expansion of the gospel and to help the fatherless and the widows and the disenfranchised and the homeless and the helpless, that is pleasing to the Lord or, as we’ll see now, that is entrance into the kingdom of God.
The first aspect is this: entrance into the kingdom of God for this man—denied. But we make a shift. Entrance into the kingdom of God for the disciples, what? Granted. Look what it says in verse 23: “And Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, ‘How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!’”
That term kingdom of God could be the presence of God. It could be salvation. It could be eternal glory. It could be heaven. It’s interchangeable with a number of different words. The kingdom of God is a person, it’s a place, and it’s a power. Write that down. Person, place or power.
Verse 24: “And the disciples were amazed at his words. [They were blown away.] But Jesus said to them again, ‘Children, how difficult 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 person to enter the kingdom of God.’ And they were exceedingly astonished. [Their minds were blown. Well Jesus, who can be saved?] And Jesus said to them, ‘With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.’” Keep in mind this verse has been misused and abused for many years. “I can do all things through Christ.” That’s not what this verse is saying. This verse is saying in the context of salvation, in the context of entrance into the kingdom of heaven, all things are possible for God.
We see, first of all, the provision. Jesus is saying, “Guys, God is in control. He’s the one who provides.” Now, Jesus cites this interesting illustration that’s been misused and abused for years by pastors. It’s the eye of the needle and the camel going through, right? You’ve heard the preachers say it like this, “There was this eye of a needle in Jerusalem that was a small gate that you had to enter into and as they would travel by camel, they would get to this area and the camel was filled with backpacks. And so the camel had to get down and you had to strip the camel of everything on and he had to scoot through this eye of the needle. And you, just like the camel, need to humble yourself and get rid of all of the things that get in the way of coming to Christ.” It’s a great preaching illustration.
Unfortunately, it’s not true. The eye of the needle and the camel didn’t come about until the 9th century A.D., believe or not. There is no eye of the needle in Jerusalem. In fact, if you go to Jerusalem you’d be hard pressed to find anything that looks like it. What Jesus is using here is a rhetorical devise called hyperbole. Take something small and something big and he shows the enormity of the situation. Jesus says for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of heaven is just about impossible to do. He said it’s equivalent to a camel going through the eye of a needle.
And the disciples were astonished. Do you see that word astonished? It’s the word that means they were struck outside of themselves. They were amazed more so. Why? Because ancient tradition taught—come in real close—that if you were rich, you were blessed; that if you had money, God’s hand of favor was on you. They couldn’t fathom how someone with money could be outside of the will of God. They couldn’t understand that. And Jesus corrects their faulty thinking. See, for Jesus, what he’s saying here is this: money and possessions can be a hindrance into the kingdom of heaven. For Jesus, money could be a disadvantage to you rather than an advantage for you.
He said it in the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 6:19. Go there. Let’s look at that. “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures [where?] in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
I love this poem. It’s called There’s No Pocket in a Shroud or a blanket.
Use your money while you’re living
Do not hoard it to be proud
You can never take it with you
There’s no pocket in a shroud
Gold can help you on no farther
Than the graveyard where you lie
And though you’re rich while living
You’re a pauper when you die
Use it then some lives to brighten
As though life the weary plod
Place your bank account in heaven
And grow richer towards your God
Use it wisely, use it freely
Do not hoard it to be proud
You can never take it with you
There’s no pocket in a shroud
See, what Jesus is getting at is this. The disciples are deficient in and of themselves to save themselves. That’s what he’s saying. They said, “Jesus, who can be saved then?” And Jesus says, “That’s exactly where you need to be. With man, you can’t. With God, all things are possible.” Jesus is showing the disciples that money—get this—gets in the way of dependence upon God. We live in a world where we’re secure, where we’re comforted, right? If you’re thirsty, you go to the fridge. If you’re hungry, you go to the snack cabinet, right? If you need gas, you go to the gas station. Jesus said we live in a world that money can cloud our trust and our dependence upon him.
You almost get the sense that Jesus is introducing this idea of grace here. Charles Spurgeon said, “On the ground of the law, if a man would deserve eternal life as a reward, he must be as good can be and keep all the commandments to perfection. Thus the rugged way of works was set before the rich young ruler, not that he might attempt to earn eternal life because of it, but that he might perceive his own shortcomings and feel weakness as to look for salvation by some other method.” Money and possessions distract us from the true source of security and sustenance. Why is this important? Because your soul is at stake. See what Jesus is saying is this: money and possessions can get in the way of your own soul. Money perverts your values and we get to a place in the world where we know the price of everything and the value of nothing. Think about that. We know the price of everything but we know the value of nothing. God is the one who provides for us and that’s what Jesus says. He gives provisions.
Secondly, Jesus restructures priorities in the text. Look at it. Verse 28: “Peter began to say to him, ‘See [Jesus], we have left everything and followed you.’ Jesus said, ‘Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions [circle that] and in the age to come eternal life.’”
Unlike the rich young ruler who put is trust in money and possessions, the disciples trusted the Lord Jesus Christ. I want you to notice the difference. The rich young ruler comes to Jesus and says what must what? What must who? I do. He’s only worried about him. He’s only worried about his own welfare. What must I do to inherit eternal life? Notice what Peter says. What must we what? We have given it all, Jesus. We have left it all to follow you. I love what Jesus says. There is a reward for those who leave it all to follow him. And he says the reward is a hundred-fold. He doesn’t say a hundred times. He says a hundred-fold.
This morning some of you need to leave your nets behind and drop them. There are some God’s calling you to leave your business behind, leave success in the world behind. There are some in here who need to give up riches to follow the Lord Jesus Christ because you put your trust and your possessions. There are others who need to give up the comfort of your home and serve him on the mission field. Why? Because there’s a reward that’s waiting for you. Matthew 6:33: “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added unto you.”
R. Kent Hughes puts it best. He said, “I like Jesus’ math. He doesn’t say 100% more. He says 100 fold more. One house gone, but a hundred door are open. One brother in the flesh lost, but 1,000 brothers gained in the Spirit, who’s love is deeper and kinship is more profound.”
It is interesting that Jesus adds the word persecution. You would think that’s kind of odd there. But notice Mark is writing to a Roman audience who, at this time of the writing of the text, are being persecuted by Nero in Rome. And boy, Jesus says, those who have a misunderstanding of what it means to follow Christ, let me correct that. If God, it feels like, has abandoned you, if you’re persecuted right now for the gospel, it doesn’t mean that God is against you. It actually could mean or it does mean that God is for you if you’re being persecuted for the gospel.
A young student went to his spiritual teacher or his mentor and he asked him a question. He said, “How can I truly find God?” It’s what he wanted to know. How do I enter into a relationship with the Lord? The teacher brought him out to the river. He told the young man to bring his swim trunks and they went out into the river. The young man trying to find out to find God was excited about the opportunity and so the teacher said, “Go under the water. I’m going to teach you a lesson.” As the boy went into the water, the teacher put both hands on his head and held him down. The boy stayed down for a couple of minutes but then he tried to get up because he was out of breath but the teacher would not let him up, kept his hands on his head. The more he tried to get up, the more he pushed down. The boy’s arms were flailing. He was gasping for air and he tried to get up.
Finally, at the last moment when it seemed like he wouldn’t let him up, the boy shot out of the water, gasping for air, asking the man, “What in the world did you just do?” The teacher looked at him and said, “When you desire God as truly as you’ve desired the breath of air to breathe, then you shall find him.” That’s what Jesus said. “You’ve got to put me first in your life.” The disciples said, “We’ve left everything to follow you, Jesus, and you have nothing by the world’s standard.” Why would these men leave it all to follow Jesus if he had nothing by the world standards? Come in real close. Because they know that Jesus had everything. Is that you? Do you know that Jesus has all things? Is Jesus an addition to your life or is he your treasure?
The disciples understood the idea of provision; they understand, secondly, the idea of priorities; finally, they understood the idea of promotion. Jesus said, “Here’s the catch. Those who would be last will ultimately be first but those who are first will be last.” This is the upside down kingdom. Jesus said by the world standards it looks bad that you have nothing, that you’ve lost it all but, by the kingdom of God, you have everything. Go to Matthew 19:28. I want to show you the reward that Jesus has for the disciples. “Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, I say to you, in the new world, when the Son of Man will sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.’” Although the world may look at you as being last, in my eyes, you are first. It gives a different meaning to being a believer in this world today, right?
Now you may be saying, Robby, that’s an interesting passage, the rich young ruler, but why is in this setting at this time in the life of Jesus. Let me just share with you Jesus’ life. Nothing happens in the life of Jesus by happenstance. Everything happens for a reason. Before the foundation of the world people, places and things were mapped out. It’s no accident that Jesus runs into this man at this time. Jesus is always teaching on an idea and then He illustrates it for His disciples. If you remember, Jesus just got finished preaching and teaching on the demands of discipleship. Go back to Mark 8:34. Notice this. Jesus lays out the demands to follow him.
“If anyone would come after me, let him [what?] deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? [Boy it sounds familiar, right?] For what can a man give in return for his soul?”
What Jesus desires from the disciples and this rich young man is complete trust. And, friends, don’t miss this, since the man did not trust him in all things, the man did not trust him at all. Did you catch that? Since the man did not trust him in all things, the man did not trust him at all.
But Robby, this has nothing to do with me. I’m a believer. This man is an unbeliever, right? I mean, this man is lost. I’ve come to know the Lord. This man thought he was saved but he wasn’t. Don’t miss this. That’s what you thought. If you have asked him or anybody in the church that day, they would have said this man has it all figured out. He’s outwardly a believer. He’s spiritual. He’s religious. He comes to church. He’s a prominent figure. He gives to the poor. He helps the helpless. But there was one thing he still lacked; and because he was this close to Jesus and unwilling to give it up, he lost it all.
See, this man had it all if you think about it. He had the riches—it said he had a lot of money in 10:17. He had the respect—a lot of people respected him, verse 17. It said that he was a ruler—a lot of people looked up to him. He had the right request—he ran up and fell at Jesus’ feet. He had the right recognition—he knelt before the Lord and knew who he was. He had the right words—he said, “Good Teacher, what must I do?” He had the right remembrance—Jesus said, “You know the commandments?” He said, “I know them all.” He had the right religion—he said, “I’ve kept everyone of them.” Don’t miss this—but he did not have a relationship with Christ. He was so close but yet he missed it.
You know what that tells me? That there are some people here with us today who think they’re right with the Lord and they’re not, because God is not the God of your life. Money is, possessions are. Jesus said you can’t serve two masters; you either love one and hate the other. You can’t serve both God and money so choose. Friend, this is not a both and choice. I serve God and money. This is an either/or church. I serve God or money. And so let me ask you this morning, who are you serving, my friend? Who’s your trust in today? Is it in the God who gives all things and provides all things? Or is in yourself and your finances?