Monday, February 13, 2017

God Or Mammon?

Mark 10:13-27

“And they brought young children to him, that he should touch them: and his disciples rebuked those that brought them.  But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.  Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.  And he took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them.” (Mark 10:13-16)

Many years ago, the pastor of one of the mega churches demanded that his people not bring infants or small children into the main auditorium because they would disrupt the service and prevent the Holy Spirit from working.   He held pastor training seminars and hundreds of pastors adopted the practice.   Jesus’ disciples were doing the same thing, telling people not to bring their children so they didn’t disturb the other people.    Jesus was quite upset with them, ordering them to allow the children to come and forbidding them stop them.   He even picked up some of the children and held them while he was teaching while patting others on the head or hugging them. 

He said they were not to forbid them because God’s kingdom is made up of people like those little children.  Anyone who does not accept Christ like a little child will never be part of his kingdom.  Little children tend to be unsophisticated, more free and honest in expressing their feelings and opinions than most adults, with the result that they are more likely to focus on the main issues.   A similar kind of openness and honesty is required for a person to be saved, even though it makes the people more apt to question what is going on.    
“And when he was gone forth into the way, there came one running, and kneeled to him, and asked him, Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?

And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God.  Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Defraud not, Honour thy father and mother.” (Mark 10:17-19)

When the man asked what the needed to do to be saved, Jesus made and important point, in essence asking if he was recognizing his as God or if he was just trying to flatter him.  He then reminded him what the law demanded if they were to receive the promises of God’s covenant with Israel for this life. 

“And he answered and said unto him, Master, all these have I observed from my youth.

Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.  And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions.” (Mark 10:20-22)

The man had done all those things throughout his life, and clearly understood that was not enough for salvation, as Romans 3:20 tells us.  “Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.”  He understood he needed something more. 

Jesus told him that he needed to make a complete commitment to Christ, placing him above everything else, because as Luke 14:26-27 tells us, “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.  And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.”   The man wanted to be saved, but he was not willing to put Christ ahead of everything else.  He still wanted to hang on to the things he had. 

“And Jesus looked round about, and saith unto his disciples, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!  And the disciples were astonished at his words. But Jesus answereth again, and saith unto them, Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into 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 into the kingdom of God.” (Mark 10:23-25)

In Matthew 6:24, Jesus stated, “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.”  One must make a choice whether God is more important or whether other things are.  Few wealthy people are willing to give up their position to obey God. 

“And they were astonished out of measure, saying among themselves, Who then can be saved?

And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible.” (Mark 10:26-27)

The disciples had made the same mistake many missionaries have made, thinking that if you win the rich, the poor will copy them.  If that doesn’t work, how is it possible to win anyone?  Rich people tend to depend on something new to satisfy them and not realize they have a spiritual lack.  Poor people know they have needs, and since they cannot buy anything to temporarily relieve their longings, they are more apt to take God’s promises seriously.  Thankfully, God is able to reach even those who have wealth.    

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