The Rich Young Ruler
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The Rich Young Ruler

Mark 10:23–31  (ID: 2826)

When Jesus told His disciples that it’s difficult for the wealthy to enter the kingdom of God, He pointed to a truth that applies to everyone. Alistair Begg teaches us that unless God changes our hearts, we will never be willing to turn from our selfish interests and follow Christ. From beginning to end, salvation is the work of God alone and is not based on human achievement.

Series Containing This Sermon

A Study in Mark, Volume 5

A Different Kind of Kingdom Mark 10:1–11:11 Series ID: 14105

Sermon Transcript: Print

Well, I invite you to turn with me to the Gospel of Mark, and to chapter 10. Page 716 in the church Bibles, if you would like to make use of one. Page 716. Mark chapter 10.

Let’s read from Mark 10:17:

“As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. ‘Good teacher,’ he asked, ‘what must I do to inherit eternal life?’

“‘Why do you call me good?’ Jesus answered. ‘No one is good—except God alone. You know the commandments: “Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, do not defraud, honor your father and mother.”’

“‘Teacher,’ he declared, ‘all these I have kept since I was a boy.’

“Jesus looked at him and loved him. ‘One thing you lack,’ he said. ‘Go, sell everything you have and give it to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.’

“At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.

“Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, ‘How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!’

“The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again, ‘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 man to enter the kingdom of God.’

“The disciples were even more amazed, and said to each other, ‘Who then can be saved?’

“Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.’

“Peter said to him, ‘[We’ve] left everything to follow you!’

“‘I tell you the truth,’ Jesus replied, ‘no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age ([namely,] homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and fields—and with them, persecutions) and in the age to come, eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first.’”

Thanks be to God for his Word. Now just a brief prayer:

Make the Book live to me, O Lord,
Show me Yourself within Your Word,
Show me myself and show me my Saviour,
And make the Book live to me.[1]

For Jesus’ sake. Amen.

It is generally true that things are easier for the wealthy. Money opens doors. A congregation like this ought not to have to be convinced of this, nor should we be in any need of illustrations. Education, health care, travel, leisure—almost any area of life—finds that the mechanisms are oiled by access to a superior amount of cash. And that is why money is often regarded as being the universal passport to everywhere. But here in this story this morning, we discover that here is one door that is not opened to the wealthy. Because what we are continuing to ponder is this story of a rich young ruler, and we learn that in his case, when it came to seeking eternal life—because that was his question in verse 17—when it came to his interest in entry into the kingdom, when it came to the question of salvation—for all of those phrases are used interchangeably—his wealth proved not to be a benefit but actually a barrier.

And so Mark, along with Matthew and Luke, record for us the story of this man who approached the right person, Jesus; who approached with what we might say is really the right question, regarding eternal life; but who left the conversation sad. His way to life—to eternal life, that he was asking about—was blocked by his unwillingness to surrender his possessions and to follow Jesus.

That’s what Jesus had asked him to do. As we said last time, in the instance of this man, the specific issue is wealth. It might have been something else. It may be something else in the life of another individual. And that is not to mitigate in any way the challenging instruction in these verses concerning wealth as such. But those of us who are tempted to say, “Well, this is an interesting story, but I, of course, couldn’t be included among the wealthy; therefore, it has nothing to do with me at all,” are immediately missing the point. This man had in money—in riches—if you like, a substitute god. He wanted to make sure that he had eternal life; Jesus said, “Eternal life will only come by way of setting aside—smashing—your substitute god, and then coming and following me.”

Now, Jesus hadn’t changed his tune in speaking to the man in this way. This, as we’ve seen in studying Mark’s Gospel, has been his tune from the very beginning. Mark 1:15: “The time [is fulfilled]. … The kingdom of God is near,” says Jesus. “Repent and believe the good news!” He does that with this man. “I want you to repent,” he says. In his case, repentance involves turning from that which is representative of his covetous heart. And faith and believing the good news is represented in his following the Lord Jesus Christ.

Mark is teaching his readers about entry into the kingdom of God. And you will see that that phrase, “to enter the kingdom of God,” comes in verse 23—it’s the final phrase of 23—it’s the final phrase of 24, and it is the final phrase of 25. So just a rudimentary understanding of how we should approach the Bible helps us to say, “Well, surely this is the theme that is part and parcel of this story.”

What is Mark dealing with here? He’s dealing with this matter of how does a person get saved? How does a person enter the kingdom of God? How does a person find eternal life? Eternal life which is not simply quantitative but is also qualitative. Eternal life which is not simply “pie in the sky when you die,” as the communists often used to say in the ’50s and ’60s, but it is the reality now, and then all of its fullness unfolding in the then.

What Mark is making perfectly clear is that salvation, from start to finish, is not a human achievement.

And what Mark is making perfectly clear is that salvation, from start to finish, is not a human achievement. And if you get that clearly in your mind, that Mark is addressing the question of entry into the kingdom—or being saved, or finding eternal life—and you understand clearly that salvation is not a human achievement, then you’re on track to being able to deal with the rest of the record.

Clearly, Jesus is not about to lower the requirements of entry just because this young man appears to be, from a human perspective, what we saw last time—namely, an ideal candidate. After all, he’s rich, he’s young, he’s enthusiastic, he comes, he kneels, and he’s dealing in the realm of the right kind of question. If following Jesus simply involved being concerned about eternal life and being an all-round good soul, then this story would have ended with joy rather than sadness. If Jesus’ preoccupation was—as some want us to believe is the case—if Jesus’ preoccupation was with making sure that this young man felt good about himself, then this encounter, by any standards, must be regarded as a complete disaster. If all that he had to do was give assent—intellectual assent—to certain things about Jesus, and then keep all of his baggage and simply add himself to the group, then that would have been straightforward.

But the fact is, the man “went away sad.” It doesn’t say that he went away defiant. He doesn’t go away angry; it doesn’t say that he went away in the huff. It says that “he went away sad.” In other words, he went away with his shoulders slouched. Why? Presumably, because Jesus had uncovered him. Jesus had put his finger on the spot. If you like, if we go in surgical terms—since we used medical terminology last time, those of us who were present and the few who remember—when the surgeon identifies the thing and then says, “Now, this can be dealt with, but let me tell you what’s involved,” and then he or she explains what you need to go through in order to have it dealt with, now you know the problem, now you know the solution, now you say, “I am unprepared to put myself through that in order to have that eventuality.” You walk away from the consult in sadness, because you know you got a problem, you know it can be fixed, and you decided you’re not going to have it done.

That is exactly what has happened to this young man. This young man has now been uncovered for his covetousness. His life is all wrapped up in his portfolio. Jesus says, “What we’re gonna do is, we’re gonna ditch your portfolio. Then you’re gonna come, follow me.” He might just as well have said to somebody who was in some kind of relationship with somebody, says, “Now, what you’ve gotta do is ditch this business relationship, and then come, follow me.” Person says, “I’m not gonna do that to follow Jesus. I mean, do you know how much I’ve got invested in this business? I’m not doing that!”

A Hard Saying

Well, with all that by way of introduction, let’s notice, first of all, that what we have here is a hard saying from Jesus—actually, a hard saying that is repeated. Verse 23: “Jesus looked around and said to his disciples…” Now, we know that this incident is recorded in Matthew 19 and also in Luke 18. In the Lukan version, the King James Version translates this sentence, “And when Jesus saw that he was … sorrowful…”[2] Here it says—Mark says—“Jesus looked around and said…” Luke—remember, who committed himself to the particular details of things—Luke, with his own insight, doesn’t simply record that Jesus looked around, but he records the fact that Jesus actually saw that the man was sad. He saw the man was sad. Because remember, Mark has already told us that when Jesus looked on this young man, he “loved him.” He liked him! He loved him. This man, all wrapped up in his stuff, Jesus had affection towards him. He didn’t have a spirit of judgment in relationship to him. And now, seeing that the man was sad… In fact, we might venture as much as to say that the man’s sadness was more than matched by the sadness of Jesus—the sadness of Jesus in recognizing how easy it was for the man to feel a sense of security in his stuff, how easy it was for this fellow to rely on his possessions, and in relying on his possessions, to lose sight of what really matters: “After all, here’s my security!”

Now, this is not a hard concept to grasp, is it? It’s riddled in our culture: either the acquisition of stuff, or the philanthropic giving of stuff. But it’s still stuff.

“Why are you so sure that you’re going to get eternal life?”

“Well, look at how much stuff I have.”

“Why are you so sure that you’re getting eternal life?”

“Well, look at how much stuff I’ve given away. It’s all about my stuff!”

And Jesus looks at this man, in the way that he’s had to look at others. You remember one occasion, as he tells the story of the individual who tore down his barns to build bigger barns,[3] which was an entirely legitimate thing for a farmer to do, especially on the basis of his success. Jesus actually says, “What profit is there for a man to gain the whole world and lose his own soul?”[4] Because the man had said, “Now I can rest, and rest content, in all my stuff.”[5]

You don’t need to go to the Bible for this. You can go to hymns and songs for this. You know, the hymn I quote all the time, the song of the ’60s from Ray Stevens, which I can now quote with freshness, because the generations are passing, and they never even lived in the ’60s. But when he wrote the song “Mr. Businessman,” it’s either the second or the third stanza that begins,

Spending counterfeit incentive,
Wasting precious time and health,
Placing value on the worthless,
Disregarding priceless wealth.[6]

“Placing value on the worthless, disregarding priceless wealth.”

And Jesus looked at the man when he went away sad, and I’m suggesting to you that the sadness of the man was matched by the sadness of Jesus, because he said, “That’s exactly what this fellow is doing. He is placing value on that which is absolutely destined to perish, and he is giving up that which is the very eternal life that he longs to inherit.” And loved ones, that story is reproduced every day. Every day.

Entry into the kingdom of God is entirely different from a human perspective. The valuations are done on the basis of the bank of heaven, not on the bank of earth. The adjustments are made not on the strength of earthly values but on the basis of eternal values.

What Jesus is doing is, he is reversing human values once again. He’s showing that entry into the kingdom of God is entirely different from a human perspective. That the valuations are done on the basis of the bank of heaven, not on the bank of earth. That the adjustments are made not on the strength of earthly values but on the basis of eternal values.

And this must have arrested these fellows as they listened. Because in Jewish society, it was generally believed—and if you read the Old Testament, you can see this to be the case—it was generally believed that wealth was an indication of blessing. Wealth’s an indication of blessing. So here comes a fellow—an ideal candidate, presumably, from the disciples’ perspective. He’s wealthy, he’s religious, and he’s concerned about eternal life. And he goes away sad. And not surprisingly, Mark tells us that “the disciples were amazed.” They were amazed. Verse 24: “The disciples were amazed at his words.”

“In fact,” says Jesus, “why don’t I tell you just how hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of heaven? It’s impossible.” Oh, this is getting even harder to comprehend! And he uses a vaguely humorous illustration—an illustration that even the children here can understand. If I had one this morning, and I had a large stuffed camel with me and a small needle that could be used for stitching a button on your shirt, I could ask one of the children to come up. I’ll give them the stuffed camel, I’ll give them the needle, and I’ll ask them to stick the camel through the eye of the needle. And they will very quickly hand it back, just to say, “Pastor Begg, you’re not a very clever man. There is no way in the world. It is entirely impossible for me to get that stuffed animal through the eye of that needle.” And they would be absolutely right. That’s the point that Jesus is making. It is entirely impossible. “‘How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!’ [And] the disciples were amazed.” Jesus says, “Let me tell you how hard it is. It’s easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of heaven.” So the disciples said, “Well, that clears that up. Let’s go.” No! No. Verse 26: “The disciples were even more amazed.” “Even more amazed.”

An Obvious Question

Jesus is a masterful teacher, isn’t he? What a teacher! A simple illustration that arrests the brightest mind. The hard saying of Jesus is followed by the obvious question on the lips of the disciples—verse 26—at a question that is not addressed to Jesus but actually is addressed to one another. You can imagine them just looking round on one another and saying, “Well, this is quite a pass, isn’t it? Who, then, can be saved?” Who can be saved? Who can inherit eternal life? Who can enter the kingdom? Who can be saved? That’s the great question, isn’t it?

That’s the question that runs through the entire Bible. The prophet Jeremiah says, “Can a leopard change its spots?”[7] Can a leopard just become a zebra? Can a leopard just decide, “I’m not going to be a spotty leopard anymore; I’m going to be a zebra when I wake up tomorrow morning”? Is that possible? Ask your grandchildren. They’ll tell you. No, no! It is impossible. Leopards are leopards; zebras are zebras. Oh, then, can a person, entirely stuck on ourselves, with little interest in God, all of a sudden one morning just wake up and say, “Oh, I think I’ll become a follower of Jesus today”? Can they?

Well, they can if salvation is a human achievement. That’s the way it’s presented by many people today. That’s why there are so many unconverted people in church. Because they bought the idea that to be a Christian is simply to give assent to certain truths about Jesus and then try and do your best. Change your lifestyle as best as you can. Fix a few things. Quit blowing the horn at people in the traffic jams. Do nice things. And that’s what you’ve bought. And you don’t understand why it is that you are the way you are. The possibility is, that you’re not converted. That you’re not converted. That you’re trying to turn your spots into stripes, and it can’t be done.

Remember when we studied Romans 8—about the mind of man, as man? In other words, man in his intrinsic being, man by nature—men and women by nature. Do you remember what Paul says is true of our minds? That the mind, “the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so.”[8] Now, that’s quite a mouthful, isn’t it? The sinful mind—man in his rebellion—having turned our backs on God, having decided we’re going to do this in our own way, our minds are in enmity towards God. They’re hostile to God. That’s why we resent the intrusion of God. That’s why we want to make—if we’re interested in Christianity—we want to make a Christianity of our own. We don’t want anything that calls for us to give up our little god, to deal with our little idolatry. No, we simply want to be able to have Jesus come and make us feel good about ourselves.

And some of our testimony is just that: “I used to feel pretty bad about myself, but I’ve begun to go to such-and-such a place, and I’m now in a small Bible study, and I feel so much better about myself.” Well, I’m glad you feel much better about yourself, but what I’m asking you is, Are you converted? Are you a Christian? Are you saved? Are you a member of the kingdom of God—entry which comes by way of a divine work not by way of a human invention? That’s the question.

And the problem is internal; it is not external. The Pharisees, who were tied up in their religious drawers, were always concerned not only with God’s law but with all the additions that they’d added to the law. We saw that in Mark chapter 7. The Pharisees come to Jesus and his disciples, say, “You’re not washing your hands properly, you’re not washing the kettles properly, the utensils are all dirty,” and so on. And Jesus says, “Guys, forget that stuff right now, would you? You’ve got such a preoccupation with this. You’re using that kind of notion to prevent yourself from actually looking after your parents. So I don’t want to hear your nonsense.”[9]

Eventually, the disciples get him alone in the house, and they say, “Can you really unpack this for us?” Jesus says, “Are you so dull? Do you think that it’s what goes into a person that makes them unclean?” He says, “What goes into a person can’t make them unclean. Eventually, the body deals with that. It goes away again. No,” he says, “it’s what comes out of a man that makes him unclean: adultery, evil thoughts, jealousy, selfishness, all of that is endemic,” he says. “All of that comes out; it’s not as a result of going in.”[10]

We have our granddaughter with us at the moment. I guess one of the problems of being a new grandpa is that you use it as illustrations all the time; it will eventually pass. But I have been reassured again about the nature of original sin. This beautiful little bundle has within herself an immense capacity to convince me that she needs the potty. Okay? She does this when she doesn’t need the potty, but in order to stop doing what it is that I would like her to be doing at the moment. She did it to me yesterday in the mall; she’s done it frequently during breakfast experience. And it’s masterful. It’s masterful! It’s a flat-out lie! It’s a flat-out lie. “Potty, potty, potty, potty, potty!” She goes, “Oh, wait a minute, hang on. Now I’m going…” Where did that come from? Did my daughter teach her that before she left her at our house? “Now, honey, let me teach you how to lie before we go, because it’s going to be necessary, to deal with him,” you know? I’ll check, but I don’t think so; I think she’s doing what comes naturally.

Why? Because the Bible says these beautiful bundles are born in sin and they’re fashioned in iniquity, and that the outfolding of things is the unfolding drama of the laying hold of that which is endemic in our nature. And so, what possibility is there for that to be changed? The answer is, in a heart transplant—and only in a heart transplant. For he says, “It is out of the heart that these things come. Therefore, you’re gonna have to get a new heart. A new heart.” How you gonna get a new heart? Where can you get a new heart?

The Key to the Dilemma

Well, here’s the key to understanding the dilemma, in verse [26]: the disciples look around and say, “Well, then, who could get saved?”

“Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.’”

And, we don’t have time to work all the way through it, but if you go to Ezekiel 36, you find there the promise of God, saying that one day he’s going to come, and he will sprinkle them with clean water, and they will be cleansed. And he will put a new heart within them, and he will remove the heart of stone, and he will give them a heart that is fashioned just as he desires for it to be, in order that it might be the context in which all the unfolding drama of his purposes begin to move towards fruition.[11] So the prospect of the Old Testament is that there is coming a day when there will be this that is finally embodied, somehow, in the one who is to come.

You fast-forward to the darkness of the night. Another religious leader comes for a meeting with Jesus. “Good teacher,” he says, “we know that you’re a teacher come from God, because nobody could do the miracles that you are doing unless God were with him,”[12] John chapter 3. Jesus says, “Let’s cut through it.” Here’s another hard saying from Jesus: “Unless a man is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”[13]

“I know you’re here with questions about the kingdom of God.” You remember the interchange. And Jesus says, “Unless a man is born of water and the Spirit, he will never enter the kingdom of God.”[14] Water and the Spirit—what does that sound like? Sounds like Ezekiel 36: “I will sprinkle you with clean water, and I will put my Spirit within you, and I will give you a new heart.”[15] Jesus says, “That’s what the prophet was on about, and it is now found in me. You must be born again.”

In other words, he says in verse 27, “What man could never do, God alone can do.”[16] He takes those who are dead in their trespasses and sins, and he makes us alive.[17] It is not that we’re half dead or that we’re dangerously sick. It is that we’re dead. So what hope is there? Well, it’s not in externalism. It’s not in adding a little religion. It’s not in assenting to certain truths about Jesus and trying to clean up our act. Our only hope is for us to call on God to do for us what we are totally unable to do for ourselves. [Phone rings.] Just take your phone, and call on God to do for you what you are…

Let me give it to you in the words of Sinclair Ferguson. Listen carefully: “Only when he”—that is, God—“gives us new hearts…” “Only when he gives us new hearts, to abandon everything for Christ, will we be free from our personal forms of idolatry and yield to the principles of the divine kingdom.”[18] Only when he gives us a new heart will we then be willing to respond to the demands of Jesus to take up our cross and to follow him.[19] Until then, we may be intrigued, we may be interested, we may be sad, we may be convinced, we may be moved, we may be stimulated; we remain unchanged.

Finally, Peter, who likes to blurt out on occasions like this—whether he does this presumptuously or not, we’ve no way of telling—but he says, “You know, thank you for telling us all about this man who wasn’t prepared to leave his treasure on earth in order that he might find treasure in heaven,” he said, “but we’ve left everything to follow you.” He’s presumably just trying to make sure that Jesus gave him a little assuring words, you know: “Yeah, you’re okay, Peter. I wasn’t talking about you at all.” Because after all, you know, he still had a boat, it would seem—otherwise, I don’t know where he was going fishing. He still had a house—his mother-in-law’s house. He still had a lot of stuff. So don’t let’s overstate this.

This is not Marxism, incidentally. The people who’ve turned this into Marxism, they just don’t understand the Bible at all. Poor people are just as dead in their trespasses and sins. Do you understand that? Just as dead! The only advantage they might have, if there is an advantage, is that they can take the rich thing off the list as a barrier. But they have all the other barriers. They just don’t have to worry about being rich. But they gotta worry about being just as dead as the rich guy next to them.

A Promise and a Warning

So Jesus finishes up; he says, “Well, mentioning that, Peter, let me give you just a word of encouragement and a word of warning.” The word of encouragement is essentially threefold. He says, “I tell you that anyone who has left home, and brothers, and so on, for me and for the gospel will receive, in the present age, a hundredfold.” In other words, “We will look after you as you’re going through. But you need to know that you will also be on the receiving end of persecution. And thirdly, you should know that in the age to come, you will rejoice in eternal life. But”—verse 31, here’s the sting in the tail, here’s the close—“but,” he says, “many who are first will be last, and the last first.”

You can imagine Peter saying, “Yes, we understand that perfectly. That’s the story of the boy that just went up the road there—the sad boy. He came here, you know, with all his cash and everything. He presumed he could go to the front of the line. He’s premier elite. You know, he’s the platinum card. You know, he’s on the executive floor. He’s always at the front of the line. So he showed up, and he figured, ‘Well, I’ll go straight to the front of the line.’ So we understand: the first will be last, the last will be first. We look kinda last. We’re going to be first. Beautiful! Let’s go.”

Some of the commentaries actually affirm that. I don’t think that’s true. I only found one fellow who agreed with me, so that’s the one I’m going to quote. Because I don’t think this is just a truism here: “Many who are first will be last, and the last first.” Jesus has already dealt with that. He’s saying this to these guys: “Be careful that complacency doesn’t get you.”

Listen to Cranfield: “The apostles [mustn’t] become self-complacent because, unlike the rich man, they have left all to follow Jesus. Such self-complacence would be highly dangerous. Moreover, one who is at present a refuser may in the future by God’s mercy accept the call and even in the age to come be preferred to them, while their having left all is not in itself a guarantee that they will remain faithful. ([After all,] Judas was one of the Twelve, Paul was not!)”[20]

That’s the story. A young man, perhaps smug, but definitely insecure. If he was settled and happy in his law keeping, there was no reason for him to come and run up to Jesus and kneel before him and ask how he could inherit eternal life. So he clearly wasn’t secure in that, any more than some of you are secure in your newfound religious activities. “Is there just one more thing that I can add to my portfolio,” he says to Jesus, “just to make sure that I’m on track?” Jesus says, “Well, apparently you’ve been doing very well in some of the second table of the law. Why don’t you just sell everything you have and give it to the poor?” And Jesus puts his hand on his covetous heart. He calls him to repent, to turn away from that, to believe the good news. And the man goes away sad.

Is that your testimony? Is that your testimony? That when finally push comes to shove and Jesus puts his finger on the place in your life that is the issue in your life, he’s not asking whether you’re interested in eternal life. That’s clear. He’s not asking whether you’ve been doing a good job of keeping the commandments. That’s fairly obvious. No, when he puts his finger on that area and he says, “This is the area; relinquish this, and then come and follow me,” have you done that? Because if you have, I’ll tell you how you have: because of God’s amazing grace and mercy. Because the inclination of your heart is to do what this man does, and that’s to just go away and say, “No. That’s too big a demand. That’s too big a cost. If that’s what it means to be one of these Christians, I am not gonna be one of those Christians.”

And it’s not that you’re unaware. Your sadness is on account of your awareness. Is that your testimony? Or is your testimony the testimony of the little man up the tree who wanted to see Jesus as well? And at the end of that story—recorded in Luke 19, I think it is—Jesus comes out of Zacchaeus’s house, and he says, “Today salvation has come to this house.”[21]

Has salvation come to your house? You cannot save yourself. But it is no secret what God can do, and whoever comes to him, he will never turn them away.

Here’s my final question to you: Has salvation come to your house? Has salvation come to your house? You cannot save yourself. But it is no secret what God can do, and whoever comes to him, he will never turn them away.[22]

“It’s impossible.”

“Do it.”

“I thought you said it’s impossible.”

“It is impossible. Do it.”

Do you remember the man with the withered hand? Jesus asked him to do the one thing he couldn’t do, and he did it. “Stretch forth your hand,”[23] he said. “What? Are you messin’ with me? You’re asking me to do the impossible?” And he did it. Why? Because the same voice that gave the command gave the grace and gave the power and enabled the response for which he called—thereby affirming the fact that salvation, from first to last, is never a human achievement, and therefore, the believer should always be the most humble of all in relationship to these things.

Let us pray:

O God our Father, look upon us in your mercy, we pray. Put your finger upon our lives and our hidden places. Show us ourselves. Show us Christ. And grant us grace. Do for us what we cannot do for ourselves. We cast ourselves upon your mercy today.

May the grace of the Lord Jesus, the love of God the Father, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit rest upon and remain with all who believe, now and forevermore. Amen.

[1] R. Hudson Pope, “Make the Book Live to Me” (1943). Language modernized.

[2] Luke 18:24 (KJV).

[3] See Luke 12:13–21.

[4] Matthew 16:26; Mark 8:36; Luke 9:25 (paraphrased).

[5] Luke 12:18–19 (paraphrased).

[6] Ray Stevens, “Mr. Businessman” (1968).

[7] Jeremiah 13:23 (paraphrased).

[8] Romans 8:7 (NIV 1984).

[9] See Mark 7:1–13.

[10] See Mark 7:14–23.

[11] See Ezekiel 36:25–27.

[12] John 3:2 (paraphrased).

[13] John 3:3 (paraphrased).

[14] John 3:5 (paraphrased).

[15] Ezekiel 36:25–27 (paraphrased).

[16] Mark 10:27 (paraphrased).

[17] See Ephesians 2:1, 4–5.

[18] Sinclair Ferguson, Let’s Study Mark (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1999), 168.

[19] See Matthew 10:38; 16:24; Mark 8:34; Luke 9:23; 14:27.

[20] C. E. B. Cranfield, The Gospel According to Mark, Cambridge Greek Testament Commentary, ed. C. F. D. Moule (1959; repr., Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2000), 334.

[21] Luke 19:9 (NIV 1984).

[22] See John 6:37.

[23] Mark 3:5 (paraphrased).

Copyright © 2024, Alistair Begg. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations for sermons preached on or after November 6, 2011 are taken from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

For sermons preached before November 6, 2011, unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version® (NIV®), copyright © 1973 1978 1984 by Biblica, Inc.TM Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Alistair Begg
Alistair Begg is Senior Pastor at Parkside Church in Cleveland, Ohio, and the Bible teacher on Truth For Life, which is heard on the radio and online around the world.