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Mark 10:17-31 How To Follow Jesus 2012/13 Sermon Series on Mark

Dr. Greg Anderson June 16, 2013

Riverdale Baptist Church Whitehorse, Yukon

1 Introduction Throughout this conversation between a rich man, Jesus and his disciples there is constant reference to the world as we know it and to a world we do not yet know. Eternal life, treasure in heaven, the kingdom of God, the age to come These are all references to something taken for granted as obviously real by the rich man, Jesus and his disciples But in our modern experience of what Jesus calls this present age There is almost nothing in official culture (government, media) recognizing any kind of age to come. Statistically we know great majorities of people in the West believe in some kind of God and some kind of afterlife And in popular fantasy culture there are myriad depictions of the age to come most of them pretty scary! But I am not sure if in the practical business of everyday life beliefs about the age to come have much expression in our culture. However to follow Jesus, to be a Christian, is to maintain practical convictions that history as we know it is scheduled by God to reach a conclusion. And given both our official culture and popular culture a most pressing need for us to maintain Christian witness is to cultivate a robust, rational, detailed and attractive view of Jesus present age and the age to come. At the end of the famous love chapter, 1 Corinthians 13, Paul says: And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. Paul is right to say: But the greatest of these is love. However, we have, due to the circumstance of our surrounding culture, a great need for hope. At both the personal level and the international level as we struggle with things not being the way they are supposed to be. May hope for the age to come and for all the goodness of God to be established, fill us up, motivate us and direct us. I do not think that such a robust, rational, detailed and attractive hope is something this rich man who came to Jesus possessed. Text Lets consider a few things about this story and hear how Jesus explains what it means to follow him. That is the main point, just as in the previous account about marriage,

2 The main point is how we follow Jesus, follow him right into the age to come. Again we see this in the pattern of the story that has the same pattern as the marriage story. There is an encounter with an outsider In the first story it is the Pharisees, in our story, the rich man Then there is a radical call by Jesus divorce is adultery; impossible for the rich to enter the kingdom of heaven; Then a response of amazement on the part of the disciples Finally, specific teaching by Jesus on what it means to follow him. In our story a rich man comes to Jesus asking about inheriting eternal life and then at the end of the story Jesus links eternal life to the age to come in contrast to this age. When we hear eternal life, heaven, and so on we usually think of some kind of spiritual experience in the afterlife. But for the first century Jew, these other-worldly experiences were understood for the most part within the context of life as they knew it but Wherein God would finally be fully present among his people and having established his just and powerful rule would do away with the sin and oppression that was so much a part of their everyday present experience. In a very concrete way it meant the Roman Empire would be vanquished and the Messiah would rule from the Temple in Jerusalem. In any case, what is important for us, as I have already pointed out, Followers of Jesus understand history and time in a specific manner we live in this present age it will come to a conclusion and then the age to come will begin that age will be inaugurated with the return of Jesus to be physically present with his people Our challenge is to not embrace official culture which has no place for this, acts as it is simply fantastical and irrelevant And on the other hand not to embrace popular culture which makes the age to come into fantasy movies Alright, what about this rich man. The other Gospels tell us he was young and also a ruler, a political authority. I believe his running to Jesus, kneeling before him and recognizing him as the most revered religious authority in the community is genuine

3 I believe this because Jesus loved him. I think we are told of Jesus specific love for another person in only one other case. This is in the Gospel of John and the person is the author, John. The endearing portrait we are given is at the Last Supper John is leaning on the bosom of Jesus and this is a redemptive reflection of who Jesus is as John tells us in the first chapter of his Gospel: It is God the only Son, who is close to the Fathers bosom, who has made him known. It is remarkable that Jesus loves this rich young ruler. We can perhaps speculate, because of his youth he probably inherited his position and hence his interest in inheriting eternal life. He was very wealthy. We are told he possessed many estates (literally). I think Jesus love and the word here expresses not just an emotive feeling but an action, perhaps an embrace as he speak to him to ensure him of the truth this love was such that in calling him to follow, he was perhaps offering the young man a place among the 12. Jesus knew Judas would betray him. As one of the 12 this young man would possess a place of unimaginable glory in the age to come. But he could not see it. Why? Because he was possessed by his possessions. It was not so much that he owned many estates but that they owned him. Do you feel that way sometimes about the things you own, that they in fact own you. This is why Jesus says: It is better to give than to receive. Application In the rest of the story the interaction between Jesus and his disciples - we hear from Jesus what it means to follow him. There are three points. It is basically impossible for the rich person to enter the kingdom of heaven.

4 I think Jesus definition of rich must be understood in reference to this story of the rich man. Critical, is the attachment to wealth. The inability to put anything else before ones possessions, to be possessed by ones possessions, to not be able to give it all away. To think it is more blessed to receive than to give. This demonstrates a fundamental attachment to this age and a lack of trust that Jesus is the key to entering the next age. It is basically impossible for anyone attached to this world and refusing to heed the summons of Jesus to come follow him to enter the kingdom of God. Nothing is impossible with God. In the history of the church we have countless numbers of rich people who have detached themselves from this age and have lived in this age as a beacon of hope shining on the coming age. Nothing is impossible with God As Jesus concludes the story we meet with the surprising declaration that any detachment from the things of this age will result in a hundred-fold multiplication of these things and in the age to come eternal life. Jesus can only mean that to join with him places us in joint-ownership and jointrelationship with his people the church. This is how we model the age to come and how we follow Jesus into that coming age. How is that for a challenge! When Jesus calls me to follow him, he calls me to follow along with fellow-followers who are now like a family to me and within such family to treat our wealth as family wealth. We see this played out in Luke 8 where Jesus, the twelve and a group of women were traveling about the cities and villages, and the entire group was being supported from the wealth of the women. However, the entire New Testaments Scriptures witness to us about the church family striving to model the way life should be in the kingdom of God, (not communism or forced redistributions, but) where love and justice, privilege and responsibility are perfectly realized and practiced. We are working on this, we have a long way to go, and it is possible with God. Three points: unqualified attachment to this age resulting in a final no to follow Jesus, disqualifies for attachment to the age to come and eternal life All things are possible with God he can attach us to Jesus This age is the opportunity to live out in radical ways a kind of attachment to this age the kind demonstrated by Jesus - that there is a bright witness to the age to come. Amen.