Some people believe in God but are unwilling to commit their hearts to Christ. Riches and other worldly advantages—success, fame, self-confidence—can hinder a person from accepting the Father’s free gift of salvation. The Gospels record the story of a young Jewish man who fell into this category.
The Cost of Choosing the World
Read Mark 10:17-31.
- To which of the Ten Commandments did Jesus not refer (v. 19)? (See Exodus 20:1-7.)
- Describe the type of person the young man was, given how he answered Christ’s question (v. 20).
- Why do you think Jesus, instead of addressing the other four commands, told the young man to sell his possessions (v. 21)?
In verse 19, the Lord’s answer seems to imply that we must keep the law to inherit eternal life. Does this mean salvation is something we earn through good works? No. Other verses clearly state that eternal life is a free gift (Eph. 2:8-9; Rom. 4:14; Gal. 3:18).
Adam Clarke’s commentary notes this about verse 19: “From this we may learn that God’s great design, in giving his law to the Jews, was to lead them to the expectation and enjoyment of eternal life. But as all the law referred to Christ, and he became the end of the law for righteousness (justification) to all that believe, so he is to be received, in order to have the end accomplished which the law proposed.” In other words, the law was designed to awaken a desire for eternal life. But only through accepting Jesus’ gift of forgiveness can we attain it.
The disciples were astonished that the wealthy would have difficulty entering the kingdom of God
(Mark 10:23-25). John Gill’s commentary says: “Earthly riches are a great obstacle to salvation because it is almost impossible to possess them, and not to set the heart upon them.”
- What does 1 John 2:15 say about those who love this present world?
In verse 25, Jesus says, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” Here, Christ is using hyperbole––exaggeration to make a point. A camel can never fit through the eye of a sewing needle— nor can a rich man enter heaven through his own merit.
Our Lord also used hyperbole in Matthew 7:3: “Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?” The Amplified Bible calls the log a “beam of timber.” Of course, no tree would ever fit into someone’s eye. But the point is, such an obstacle would severely limit one’s ability to see clearly to remove a splinter from someone else’s eye.
- Since a rich man can’t enter the kingdom of God on his own, how can he enter (Mark 10:26-27)?
- What do you think this means?
The Reward for Following Christ
Peter points out that he and his fellow disciples have left everything to walk with Jesus.
- What did the Lord promise them as a reward (v. 29-31)?
- How do we know our Savior was not suggesting His followers seek to become affluent in a worldly sense through sacrificing earthly treasures for His sake (1 Tim. 6:9-10)?
Although Jesus was not recommending a “get rich quick” scheme, this passage does have a literal (not merely spiritual) meaning. Adam Clarke comments, “Those who have left all for the sake of Christ do find, among genuine Christians, spiritual relatives, which are as dear to them as fathers, mothers, yet they have the promise of receiving a hundredfold often literally fulfilled: for, wherever a Christian travels among Christians, the shelter of their houses, and the product of their lands, are at his service as far as they are requisite.”
- Given Clarke’s interpretation of verses 29-30, share a few ways this promise has been fulfilled in your life.
- How does Jesus’ warning that persecution will accompany this promise (v. 30) help believers maintain an eternal, rather than temporal, perspective?
Closing: People pay a high price for walking away from God’s best for their lives. They choose to hang on to their pride, riches, independence, or reputation instead of following Christ wholeheartedly. Don’t let the distractions of this world keep you from experiencing God’s best. Surrender fully to Jesus, and watch Him bless your life in spiritual as well as tangible ways.
Prayer: Father, thank You for the amazing promise we have in Christ—that anything we give up for His sake, You will repay a hundredfold—in this life or in the next. Give us the grace to surrender to Your will daily, and teach us how to recognize Your hand of blessing in our lives. In Your Son’s name we pray. Amen.