What Must I Do To Inherit Eternal Life?

This month we are going to look at a series of questions that are asked in the texts as we make our way to the cross. In each of these questions is an element of faith – and a reality-check about our individual faith that should cause us to question, think, and decide. Today’s question relates to a young man who comes running up to Jesus with an eager question: What Must I Do to Inherit Eternal Life?

As he was setting out on a journey, a man ran up, knelt down before him, and asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “Why do you call me good?” Jesus asked him. “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.” He said to him, “Teacher, I have kept all these from my youth.” Looking at him, Jesus loved him and said to him, “You lack one thing: Go, sell all you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” But he was dismayed by this demand, and he went away grieving, because he had many possessions.

Mark 10:17-22, CSB

There were admirable things about this man. He was eager – ran up to Jesus. He was young (Matthew tells us) – had his whole life before him. He was rich (Luke tells us) and would have many opportunities. He was a religious man – having kept commandments. We would admire this man, and truly Jesus loved him.

Jesus called his attention to God. Jesus loved him. Jesus knew what was between him and God, and he encouraged him to remove that and follow him. Jesus gave him a rich promise: “and you will have treasure in heaven”. This was a reality check – he had many possessions. This passage reveals to us…

Five Realities of A Faith Relationship With Jesus

Jesus Sees and Knows Us.

John 2:25 …he himself knew what was in man.

You’ve never been known better than the way Jesus knows you today.

Hebrews 4:13  No creature is hidden from him, but all things are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give an account.

Jesus loves us

It seems like that wouldn’t be true- if he knows us so well. But he does love us.

Ephesians 3:17b-19  I pray that you, being rooted and firmly established in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the length and width, height and depth of God’s love, and to know Christ’s love that surpasses knowledge…

Jesus was clear with him

There was something preventing him from following Christ – and it wasn’t his knowledge or religious practice – it was his riches. If we were in the young man’s shoes today, what would Jesus tell us to give away? Whatever it is that stands in our way of a relationship with Jesus is not worth losing that connection with Him.

Jesus wanted him to come with him.

Whatever his failings, he was still invited. So are we – no matter our past or present.

Jesus was Saddened.

The young man went away grieving because he was unwilling to follow Jesus on his terms. Since Jesus loved him, we can conclude he was saddened by this young man’s choice. But the young man was sad as well – did he ever reconsider and come back to Him? When we encounter the teachings of Jesus, do we walk away grieving or are we willing to submit to Him?

Some Decisions Are Hard

We should be honest and admit that choosing to follow Jesus is the greatest blessing – but it isn’t the easiest choice.

Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!”

The disciples were astonished at his words. Again Jesus 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 person to enter the kingdom of God.”

Mark 10:23-25, CSB

“When Jesus called this young man to give up his money, the man started to grieve, because money was for him what the Father was for Jesus. It was the center of his identity. To lose his money would have been to lose himself…” (Tim Keller)

What hard decisions for Christ have given you a struggle?

For some, it is wrestling with being baptized. A simple process, a beautiful event, a joyous occasion – but yet a struggle. 3000 were baptized upon first preaching of gospel. Why would we walk away from that?

For some it is commitment to Christ on a daily basis.

For some it is commitment to the church, which falls far down on the priority list.

For some it is a sin they cannot release.

The disciples asked – “Then who can be saved?” Jesus affirmed that “with man it is impossible, but not with God, because all things are possible with God.”(Mark 10:26-27) Even with our greatest efforts, our salvation is still an act of God’s grace and to His glory. One reason why God’s Grace is so Amazing – He keeps wanting us to follow Him when we have chosen other things over Him over and over.

Conclusion

Jesus was willing, but the young man walked away grieving.

If Jesus Gave Me a Reality Check – What Would it Be? Jesus sees and knows us, Jesus loves us. Jesus is clear with us, Jesus wants us to follow Him. Jesus is sad when we walk away. What is the “one thing you lack” when it comes to your commitment to God? What hard decision do you need to make?

What can I do to inherit eternal life? That is a good question. We should ask the same question and accept the invitation of Jesus to follow Him. Near the end of his gospel Mark has a resurrected Jesus giving the disciples the message to share with the world:

He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.

Mark 16:15-16, CSB

LifeGroup Questions

  1. In television, movies, or literature… name a person of great wealth who mistreated those under him. Also in television, movies, or literature, name a person of great wealth who blessed those under him.
  2. Shelly Matthews, in her commentary on this passage, says “This text is an anxious one. It is hard to imagine anyone hearing it who would not feel that anxiety.” What about this text causes you some anxious feelings?
  3. What do you think Jesus meant when he said “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.” (Mark 10:18)
  4. Jesus told the young man “You lack one thing.” If Jesus said that to you, would it be hard to imagine what the one thing might be? How would one go about identifying the “one thing” that stood in the way between them and Jesus?
  5. What does Jesus’ request of the young man teach us about discipleship today?
  6. Twice in this text Jesus said, “how hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” (Mark 10:23,24), how many of us thought of someone else? In what way does this declaration affect every one of us?
  7. What else in this text did you want to talk about?

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